Alyce Farrell knows there's more to her town than its star turn on The Office. It has a unique history in coal mining and a public tree house 150 feet above the ground. Plus it's where she loves living with her family.
By Caren Oppenheim
Locals love: Concerts and Broadway tours play to packed audiences in the neo-Gothic Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple, built in 1930.
Our Scranton family: Rob; Charles, 11; Eleanor, 6; Alyce; and Virginia, 13.
I grew up in Scranton with parents who were very involved in the community and always knew I wanted to raise my kids here. Rob's from Kentucky and after we met at law school he'd often come home with me over holiday breaks. We married after graduating and soon moved in across the street from my folks.
Since the mid-1800s, Scranton has been associated with the railroad, iron and steel businesses. Steamtown National Historic Site is a popular attraction that features authentic rail sections from the early 1900s where visitors can step aboard actual locomotives. The Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour is one of our top spots to bring out-of-towners. It takes you 300 feet down into a 150-year-old mine that's no longer in use. A guide leads you through the tunnels and gangways to see artifacts and exhibits about the people who worked there. It definitely reminds our kids to appreciate life on the surface!
Most people immediately ask about The Office when we say we're from Scranton. Rob and I watch it every week and love seeing the sites that are part of the opening credits (the rest is shot in Los Angeles). Once a year the Chamber of Commerce solicits items from local businesses and restaurants to send to the show. We get such a kick out of spotting refrigerator magnets and mugs from our favorite stores.
In between dance classes for both girls, lacrosse games for Charles and piano lessons for all three kids, we enjoy spending downtime at Nay Aug Park—there are walking trails, picnic areas, two swimming pools and the Everhart Museum of Natural History, Science & Art. Most impressive is the elaborate David Wenzel Tree House, which overlooks a gorge from 150 feet above. It was completed in May 2007 by Forever Young, an organization devoted to building tree houses that are accessible for people with special needs.
Every Halloween we invite neighbors and family over for dinner. I make tons of kid-friendly food—including themed mummy dogs (hot dogs wrapped in dough)—and we wait for trick-or-treaters. Anyone who wants candy must perform for us. It's a fun tradition my parents started when I was growing up. Whatever they do—sing, dance or tell a joke—we make sure they earn their treats!
Originally published in the October 1, 2011, issue of Family Circle magazine.
This piece was accurate at publication time, but all prices, offerings and availabilities are subject to change. Please contact each hotel and attraction for up-to-date rates and information before taking your trip.