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Ice Cream Social brings in man, beast and child to annual event

July 17, 2005|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

BLUE RIDGE SUMMIT, Pa. - You have to love a library that allows a chicken to attend story hour.

On Saturday, in addition to the visiting chicken, the Blue Ridge Summit Free Library also had several doves and a white rabbit under the front desk and a medieval-style wedding dress in its children's section.

Lots of people must love this library, because about 1,000 adults and children attended its 29th annual Ice Cream Social.

The adults went for the used-book sale, the white elephant sale, the music and the ice cream. The children went for the magic show, the firetruck, the face painting and the ice cream.

While the magician ate lunch after entertaining nearly 100 children, his doves and rabbit, which is named Abra, waited for him in the air-conditioned library.

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When a strolling barbershop quartet came in and crooned "I Love You Truly" to library manager Nancy Bert while she checked out books for patrons, the doves cooed along with the music.

Outside, people listened to live music, ate ice cream and funnel cakes, and looked over a huge selection of romances, mysteries and other genres under a white canopy. Nonfiction books were available for purchase in the library's community room.

Franklin P. and Suanne K. Woodring signed copies of their book, "Images of America: Pen Mar," for customers.

A walk through the children's section of the building, which formerly was the small borough's train depot, shows why this is a popular spot.

Despite the fact that she has neither siblings nor offspring, children's librarian Deborah Heinecker runs a library that caters to children's needs and interests, including a story hour and craft time on Saturdays and a large inventory of toys, puzzles and puppets. Children are not shushed.

"This is their library," she said.

Normally, the room is decorated in a railroad theme, but for the summer reading series "Dragons, Dreams and Daring Deeds," Heinecker turned the caboose into a castle keep.

The dress and headpiece she wore in her medieval-style wedding are on a mannequin beside the keep. A large stuffed unicorn sits atop a shelf, and tapestries and a brass rubbing hang on the wall.

Children who achieve reading goals receive coupons for ice cream at local eateries.

"If you can get children to like books and libraries when they're young, they'll be readers the rest of their lives," Heinecker said.

The well-behaved chicken who attends story time belongs to a library patron who enjoys sharing her pet with the youngsters, she said.

Erina Hoos of Baltimore grew up in Blue Ridge Summit and brought her three children to the ice cream social. Amylia, 5, Noah, 2, and Julian, 8 months, enjoyed rainbow sherbet cones in the steamy heat. Julian gnawed at the cone, spreading sherbet over his face and nearly into his red hair.

"He has only one tooth to work with," Erina Hoos said.

Her mother, Gretchen Karl, and brother, Paul Karl, who live in Blue Ridge Summit, also attended.

Gloria Benchoff sat on a hay bale and took it easy in the heat while listening to the live music. She grew up in the borough and lives nearby, and attends the event every year.

"You see people you grew up with," she said.

"People come early with lists of books (they want) if they're reading a certain author," Benchoff said. She bought some books and got an article about the Civil War battle that took place in the area.

The Ice Cream Social raises $4,000 to $5,000 each year for the library, with the used books accounting for most of the profit, said Dianne Aughinbaugh, a former library board member who helps coordinate the book sale.

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