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A way to scare up business

October 08, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

WAYNESBORO, PA. - Those who thought they knew the scarecrow can think again because Main Street has given straw-stuffed security a new image.

Scarecrows who protect fields are so last season. What's in are scarecrows who beep, light up and welcome shoppers.

For 58 of these reclaimed agricultural security guards, Saturday marked a new beginning when Waynesboro chose to see their inner good, giving them 20 days to welcome people downtown, not scare them away.

Members of 58 profit and nonprofit organizations crafted the scarecrows for Saturday's Market Day celebration, hosted by Main Street Waynesboro Inc.

"Isn't this exciting?" Kelly McGahen asked as she laced the scarecrows to lampposts downtown.

Co-chair of Market Day and owner of TranquiliTEA, McGahen walked Main Street on Saturday and watched people stepping into the road to look at the diverse population of scarecrows.

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"We were worried when we only had 10 entries, but 58! I am blown away," she said.

Mayor Richard Starliper, state Rep. Patrick E. Fleagle and Evie Cook judged the entries. While Starliper said he enjoyed judging, he also found it a bit of a challenge to hand out the $800 in prizes.

"This was hard to judge," he said. "There is a lot of art and competition out there."

Anna Root, co-chair of Market Day and vice president of Main Street Waynesboro Inc., said the scarecrows were the beacon of the day.

"They are the attraction," Root said. "People are coming into town just to see them."

Once in town, residents found that McGahen, Root and their team of more than 30 others filled Main Street with activities, food, entertainment and shopping.

"We have 95 percent of the businesses out here today," Root said.

Selling his wares from the sidewalk, Barry Sonne of Castle Fabrics & Home Decor smiled as people browsed and said, "I am the newest business in town, and today is fantastic."

Sonne said most people have "tunnel vision" as they drive down Main Street, but Saturday was a chance for them to remove their blinders.

"Market Day is like in the old days, when people would walk up and down the street," Sonne said. "It gives them a chance to see what we have."

Dr. Joel McGahen, an optometrist, said Market Day also demonstrated how Waynesboro has room for growth.

"Waynesboro will never be the downtown mecca it once was, but it can be better," he said. "It needs destination stores, specialty shops that offer something better than the chain stores."

For some, there is no place like Waynesboro.

"Waynesboro is my favorite town in the whole world," said Elisha Valdez, 8.

While McGahen and Root could not guess how many people visited downtown Waynesboro on Saturday, both said they have "never seen so many people on Main Street."

Winners of the scarecrow competition were Fairview Avenue Brethren in Christ Church, Eichholz Flowers, Mountain Valley Real Estate, No Place Like Hope Relay Team, Sheller's Uniform Shop and Hooverville Elementary 5th Grade Reach Program.

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