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Mountain Home Magazine

Scary Ways in Williamsport

by Linda Roller

Once the lonely sentinel over farmlands, the scarecrow is one of the beloved signs that fall has arrived. More than a dozen of these autumn ambassadors will be carefully crafted by the Pennsylvania College of Technology’s horticulture/technology students for Way’s Garden, tucked in at the corner of 4th Street and Maynard Street. Beginning on the October 4 First Friday and running through Halloween they will be out and about—sitting on the park benches to keep every visitor company or leaning on trees throughout the garden.

Tied to the October First Friday, a scarecrow downtown invites you to the garden in the historic district of the city. There, visitors will see the Horticulture Club’s creations, some based on characters from movies and television—think Spongebob, or a minion—some based on the instructors in horticulture, and some just figures, like last year’s nurse scarecrow. A few more from last year may make a return appearance, but there will certainly be new and different straw sculptures to delight everyone.

This happy scarecrow happening is the brainchild of Carl J. Bower, Jr., assistant professor at Penn College. “Hershey Garden had a scarecrow event I saw in 2011,” he recalls. Carl could see that event as a great project for his horticulture students and as an event for Williamsport. One idea led to the next, and the scarecrows ultimately became a joint project of the Way’s Garden Commission and the Horticulture Club of PCT. As both the advisor of the Horticulture Club and a commissioner for Way’s Garden, Carl was instrumental in orchestrating this perfect combination of people and location.

“One of my neighbors had a yard sale, and there were a lot of clothes left over,” Carl says. “I asked if I could have them, and then asked if they would mind seeing some of their clothes on scarecrows in Way’s Garden.” The neighbor was happy to donate to the project, and with that, and some bales of straw, Carl had the makings of a great event.

The inaugural scarecrow project was just last year, but, from the first, Carl looked for this to be an annual opportunity for club members. And that’s most of the students in horticulture. “If you’re in the horticulture major at PCT, you’re in the club,” he notes. It’s a two year program, so many of the students from last year are involved. This year, they are the senior students organizing and creating.

The scarecrows at Way’s Garden is only part of what the horticulture students do there. The club is responsible for litter pickup at the Maynard Street interchange, extending to the front entrance of Penn College, close to the garden. They do the clean-up of the garden itself, as the beautiful iron boxes on the garden railing change with the seasons. Any garden needs tending, and this one is lovingly looked after by the students.

And by some not-so-scary scarecrows.

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