Ã©lan \ Ä-ËˆlÃ¤â¿ \ noun
vigorous spirit, energy, or enthusiasm
Many months ago, we had an idea. Let’s talk! Talk about downtowns, the elements that make them attractive, the unique quirks that make them memorable.
Downtown Hollidaysburg is such a downtown worth talking about. There is a nice mix of food establishments and retail. The pizza is worth a return trip and the drinks and desserts ”¦ well, for me they were worth a return trip in the same night! The center of town ”“ what is called “the square” in many communities ”“ is called “the diamond” in Hollidaysburg. Turning back a brick paved pedestrian alley, you find an old livery converted into employee parking ”“ covered parking mind you, a true bonus during snowy Hollidaysburg winters. Strolling along Main Street, store displays catch your eye and even invade the sidewalks in inventive ways.
And all of this is attractive and quirky and memorable. But what is most attractive and quirky and memorable are the people of Hollidaysburg. On a Sunday evening, as part of the Pennsylvania Downtown Center Conference, it was the shop owners that were most worth talking about in Hollidaysburg. Don’t misunderstand, the subs, pizza, and wings were top-notch. I already expressed my affinity for the desserts and I saw many more in our group sneaking seconds or taking to-go bags along with them. And to-go bags were carefully balanced with shopping bags from various retailers.
But I’m not sure if the experience would have been the same without the folks from Dutch Chocolates who took time to talk lovingly about their offerings; without Kevin Charles who staged many impromptu fashion shows at his store; without the proprietor of The Black Dog CafÃ© who joined her patrons in lively conversation both in the cafÃ© and on the sidewalk; without the folks from Allegheny Coffee & Penn Street Pit Shop who quickly and graciously pulled together vegetarian versions of their delicious fare.
Bricks and mortar can do a lot for a downtown but the Ã©lan found in Hollidaysburg was the defining characteristic of this community. As we all continue our work to enhance Pennsylvania’s core communities, let’s always remember the people behind the facades. They can make all the difference.