The Celtic Festival

I am a college student. I attend Lehigh University, which is a regionally prestigious private school in the small city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. For a communications class I am currently taking, I was required to have an experience and create a blog post about it, the blog post I am currently writing. Attending the local Celtic Festival, a festival celebrating Celtic culture, was suggested in class as a potential experience, and I took this option. The Celtic Festival, officially titled the Celtic Classic Highland Games and Festival, is one of many festivals the city of Bethlehem puts on, the most famous of which is probably Musik Fest, a music festival that has recently featured acts as prominent as Jerry Seinfeld, a stand-up comedian best known for the television sitcom Seinfeld. I have attended many of these festivals before, including the Celtic Festival, as a child because I grew up a little under an hour away from Bethlehem in a small town where there was very little to do and many townspeople traveled far for events of smaller magnitude than the Celtic Festival. The Celtic Festival runs three days a year, in the fall, Friday through Sunday, and this year those dates happened to be September 25th through the 27th. I determined this by searching the internet for Bethlehem Celtic Festival, and looking at the website set up for the event and the schedule on that website. I chose Sunday to attend as it was the day I had the most time available. I attended the event with a person close to me who was visiting me for the weekend, a college student attending Kutztown University, a public school that is part of the Pennsylvania state system of schools. The event ended earlier on Sunday than the other days, at 8 p.m. instead of 11 p.m. It’s about a twenty minute walk from my dorm room to the festival, which is located officially at 532 Main street Bethlehem. Pa., 18018, and we left sometime around 5 p.m., so we had about two hours at the festival.

The event is denoted by its white tent stands. At the south end of the event, where we entered, these stands primarily sell food. Some of this food is classic Celtic food such as shepherd’s pie, which is ground beef topped with vegetables and mashed potatoes, and bridies, which are pockets of ground beef baked in a pie crust; some of the food is American festival fare, either mass-produced like mozzarella sticks or locally produced like a stand selling free-range fried chicken; and some of the food is a strange mishmash like the Celtic “walkaway sundae” featuring different Celtic foods stacked atop each other in a plastic cup. The last option seemed gross to me and I didn’t try it at any point in the evening. At this point we were not hungry anyway, and we did not feel like exchanging our cash for the event tickets required to purchase food, so we did not try anything at this end. On our left was an empty field, where teams at some earlier point threw long pieces of wood that look like telephone poles as far as they could, because this is a traditional Celtic sport called the caber toss. I didn’t feel a desire to watch this year’s competition, as I have seen it before, and it only took one viewing for the novelty to wear off and then it was no more exciting than watching my high school shot put team put a shot.


The middle section of stands is primarily vendors selling Celtic-related wares, such as jewelry, old fashioned caps, swords, and kilts. These were often priced beyond my wallet, and were not for the most part goods that had a high degree of potential daily use, as items such as kilts could really only be socially-acceptably worn by me at an event such as the Celtic festival, and really I had no desire to wear one anyway. I like my shorts and jeans. I was a little tempted by the very neat and real looking swords for sale, but I was sure they were hundreds of dollars without even asking. The amount of kilts and old fashioned caps being worn at the festival showed that these vendors were not having trouble selling!


In this section two mounted policemen, meaning policemen riding horses, were stationed. The Bethlehem police force has a group of policemen who ride horses in areas of the city, perhaps out of tradition, perhaps because horses are threatening as they could rear up and kick you. These policemen, though, acted like a real buddy comedy team with lots of horse-based jokes as people petted their horses. When a woman’s plastic cup, which was filled with beer, was held by the woman close to one horse’s face purely by accident, one policeman said that she should move it away before the horse took a drink. The other policeman then said that that sort of thing has happened before, though he was likely kidding. The first policeman then asked the woman what kind of beer she had. She responded with a particular type of beer, such as a lager, though I don’t remember exactly what type. The first policeman responded that the horse was more of an IPA guy. I found this sincerely funny, and felt like I was in the middle of a hit Kevin James comedy.

Finally, we arrived at the northern end of the festival, where a major event tent is located. This event tent currently featured Irish river dancers, who are dancers that for the most part only use their legs to dance, not the rest of their bodies, in a kind of rhythmic hopping with some fancy footwork in typically one spot that can produce a loud stomping noise. It’s a real treat to watch for many people, given that the near-capacity crowd in the tent was clapping along. I myself have always found this type of dancing a little boring, because it only involves the legs, and it seems like there’s only so much you can really do with it. It does seem fun for the dancers though, and they did a great job!


Opposite this tent were more food stands. We purchased twenty five dollars in tickets at the ticket stand using a Visa credit card, as my partner was now hungry, and purchased one lemonade and one bridie, otherwise known as a meat pie. This cost eleven dollars in tickets. She tried the bridie, and said that it was a little boring in flavor, as it was just ground beef and a crust. She added barbecue sauce to it, and this improved its flavor. Before we left, we purchased two slices of cake from a bakery vendor, one chocolate, and the other Bailey’s Irish crème liqueur flavored, both of which we shared, each eating half. This cost fourteen dollars, the last of our tickets: perfect! The chocolate cake was a solid chocolate cake, about what you’d expect. The Bailey’s Irish crème cake was stale, and did not have much flavor. I take responsibility for the lack of flavor, however, as that is more of a judgment call on my part. Bailey’s is most often used as a smoothing agent in shots consumed primarily by college-age drinkers, rather than a flavorful liqueur meant to stand on its own, and therefore a cake flavored solely with that liqueur should not be expected to be particularly flavorful.

I have to note that the dogs at this festival were many and great, and the people attending the festival were more than happy to allow you to pet their dogs for the most part if you asked. I petted a Saint Bernard that was one of the largest dogs I have ever come across. Its head felt as big as a basketball, and it reminded me that dogs evolved from wild animals, which were most likely wolves.


After all this excitement, it was good to take a walk on the Bethlehem canal trail, which is a path along the old, now-unused transportation canal that runs through Bethlehem. This is a packed gravel and dirt path that starts right at the edge of the festival. The path runs under several bridges, some still in use and some not, and one that is graffitied with mysterious messages that I could not understand. As we moved farther along the path, however, we were enclosed by trees on the far side of the canal on our right and the near side of the path on our left, and beyond the trees on our left a river flowed. We felt like we were no longer in the city, but truly deep in nature. My partner told me of a time she hiked up a mountain, that as she walked across the top of the mountain a hole opened up in front of her that had been hidden among the boulders she was walking on, like a cave but angled straight down with no bottom visible, and she could have fallen down it because there were no warning signs at all. Thankfully, she didn’t. As we talked, many birds chirped and the insects made that weird whirring sound they make that you’ve probably heard before.

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On our way back night had fallen, and a light across the river shined on the water. The night was so dark that it seemed that the light and its reflection existed on a single, separate plane from the rest of the world, and that the light and its reflection were equal, not a source and its expression but two independent entities working together even while apart, the reflection a beam leading up to the point of light and not quite reaching it. I felt that this was a good representation of my emotional state at the time, like I was moving through the form of a potential realization but not actually reaching it. I also thought that this wasn’t true, that I wanted to feel melancholic because my surroundings were melancholic, but really the situation was trivial, and nothing important was happening in my mind.


When we returned to my dorm room we agreed it had been a good day. We had moved through two environments fairly different from what we experience on a daily basis and highly different from each other, one commercial and one natural, one hectic and one peaceful, one cluttered and one composed of organic variations on a set of often highly linear forms: the canal, the river, the path, the trees lining the path. The two contrasted with each other in our memory, refreshing us for each experience as we re-experienced them in our heads. That’s probably not true, but the environment of the path did at the time give us mental space to reflect on and process the objects presented by the festival, allowing the experience to come to a more reflective, and therefore fulfilling, ending. In any case, these objective environments did break us out of the routine intersubjective streams that we had been occupying as students — textbooks, scheduled lectures, social media — and gave us a break from subordinating our minds to others’ often dispassionate and, in the case of social media, highly fractured thoughts, in an almost continuous state of being only partially ourselves. So even if it’s something as simple as a little festival, having an experience can make you feel more alive. The city of Bethlehem presents many festivals over the course of the year, including the aforementioned Musik Fest and the highly popular Christmas celebration featuring Christkindlmarkt, a gathering of Christmas-themed vendors. Check one out today at their event page!


The Celtic Classic!

This past Saturday, September 24th, the Celtic Classic was happening just over the river, on the north side. As I have traditionally attended this event each year the past three years, I planned on this year being no different. Despite going in the past, this year was going to be different, and not only because I was of legal drinking age. After a packed morning of casual mocos at a friend’s house and going to the tailgates for a burger and beer, I was ready to start my trek across bethlehem to the north side.img_3615Two of my housemates and I started off on our trek from our residence on first terrace, eager to explore the town on our way down. Having just attended mocos and tailgates, I was dress more vicariously, wearing a retro basketball jersey, stylish bright blue pajama pantis I had picked up in Africa earlier in the year, and a red bandana strapped to my left bicep. James and Pants (short for Pantelis) started telling me about a spot they had traversed earlier in the week- a new brewery and bar on the south side called Bonn Place Brewing Company. Located on Taylor Street, right across from C-Town, it is a newly founded enterprise that brews a multitude of different beers. I had the pleasure of talking with the founder, Sam, who bought the building two years ago with his wife. Two actors who had worked in all 50 states, they fell in love with South Bethlehem while performing at the Steel Stacks, and decided to live in town. They are big patrons of the community, and locally source as many of their ingredients as possible, including using coffee from Monocacy Coffee Co., a local coffee shop in the process of opening, for a delicious coffee infused pale ale. I had one of their finest stouts, and could not be more pleased with the beer or the complementary peanuts they were kind enough to provide. Although I was somehow not in the right state of mind to snap a picture of the indoors during this impromptu stop, I cannot stress how tastefully the interior of the building was decorated. I can say that I will be happily coming back to this hidden gem many more times throughout the semester. I also highly recommend following them on twitter @bonnbrewing for on the fly deals they occasionally put up!img_3608

After feeling satisfied with our beer and nuts, we set out to complete the rest of our trek to the north side. A short trek to the new street bridge was easy enough, and not soon after we reached one side, we landed at the other. We could hear the music blaring ever louder as we approached, until we had the festival in full view. And what a view! Thousands of people surrounded us, almost exclusively wearing the traditional color of the Irish, while we heard wonderful Irish music resonating wherever we were positioned. We met up with a larger crowd on arrival, composed mostly of recent graduates, who with which we had attended the festival in previous years. As we made our way through the event, we began to understand the lay of the land. At the beginning, there was a many piece band playing in unison, with the most noteworthy sound being the wheezing bagpipes. Moving up, there were shops adorning the right  side of the walkway, stretching thousands of feet to the bridge above, then past that. On the left side, before the river approached, was the main attraction; the feats of strength. The first event happening while we were there was the hay bale toss. Burly Irish men would take a pitchfork, spear their bale, and toss it with a motion not unlike a shot put twirl above an elevated height marker. During our time present, we saw them tossed over thirty feet! That’s higher than three basketball hoops! Not soon after, we headed to a ticket window so we could get the event tickets to buy food and drink. I purchased ten tickets, with which I bought one cheap Miller Lite and one traditional Irish pretzel dog. The pretzel dog was certainly tastier than the Miller. Not soon after, I ran into my wonderful entrepreneurship professor, Professor White. We had a nice chat, took a selfie, then she appropriately insulted me on my beer choice. Oddly enough, shortly before we left, there was a wedding ceremony in the space where the hay bale toss had just occurred. A nice romantic event, though I am still not sure why they chose to have it during the Celtic Classic.img_3604

Not long after, Pants, James, and I decided our time to depart was upon us. After crossing the New St. bridge, we decided to stop by Sotto Santi’s for a short pit stop before making our trek up the mountain. A five dollar cheesesteak, two dollar pint, and spirited conversation with our lovely server were just what we needed to fuel the rest of our walk. We all proceeded to nap when we reached our destination, a very full afternoon behind us. I would heartily recommend it to any person within driving distance of Bethlehem, as there is much fun to be had for people of all ages. I look forward to coming back next year, so long as it is feasible. Celtic Classic has been great to me these past four years, and I would hate for another event to get in the way of it. Visit or ask any enthusiastic patrons of years past to find additional information on the Celtic Classic. For information on Bonn Place Brewing visit or visit their location at 310-14 Taylor Street, Bethlehem Pennsylvania.

7 Steps to Enjoying a Lehigh Football Game



1. Wear Your Lehigh Gear. It doesn’t have to be everything you own or a sweatshirt, but make sure you’ve got some brown or white on. I know it’s not cool to support Lehigh or be proud that you go here, but it gives you a connection to the game going on. Lehigh gives out so many free shirts, so not having one isn’t an excuse either.

2. Get to the Game. This is the biggest reason I’ve heard people say about not going to the game. And I get it, Goodman campus is far away. I don’t have a car so I can’t get there. Except Lehigh runs buses to the game all morning long. You know what isn’t far away? Taylor gym. I don’t know the exact departure schedule, but if you show up at Taylor gym around noon on a game day. You’ll get on a bus within 5 minutes. If you’re driving its even easier. Parking is right next to the stadium and is free.

3. Go to a Tailgate. I didn’t have time for this one, but it seems like a good step to add. Especially if they have food, stadium food is expensive. Chances are the student tailgates won’t have food though, so maybe just go to hang out with friends before the game.

4. Go Inside the Stadium. It is incredible that when I ask some friends if they’ve gone to games they respond by saying they’ve been to the tailgates but not the game. How? It is right there! The stadium is right next to anywhere people tailgate. And it’s free! You just have to walk in and flash your Lehigh ID card. What if you forgot your Lehigh ID card? You can just say you’re a student and write down your email and they’ll let you in. Trust me, I was about to pass my ID through the fence to my friend when he lost his.

5. Find a Spot on the Hill. If stadium seats are your thing, fine, you do you. But there is a perfectly sloped hill right next to the field that offers some great views of the game as well as a relaxing seating area.

6. Get on Field to Kick a Field Goal. I don’t know how to do this one, but around the end of the first quarter 2 students are pulled from the crowd to kick a field goal attempt. It is an easy enough shot, only 25 yards, and if you make it you win a large pizza from Dominoes. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me. Next time I go, my goal is to win that pizza.

7. Stay for the Band. A lot of people want to leave early. I guess if you didn’t pay for a game there is less motivation to stay for the whole thing, but at the very least, you should stay until halftime is over. The marching band puts on a show the students can enjoy in addition to embarrassing the PA announcer.

7. Join the Cheering Section. This is where the fun is. Right up in front of the stands there is a loud group of students intent on cheering on the team. If you are more of a high energy person and sitting on the grass all game isn’t for you then this is the place to be. You can get tossed in the air after a touchdown or yell at the refs after a bad call, in this group of people a camaraderie can be found instantly. Just remember to have fun.

7. Take a Walk Around the Stadium. There isn’t a whole lot of room at Goodman Stadium, mostly just stands with the grassy hill in between them but take a look around. There are people other than vendors and you might just find a club set up. This weekend I ran into Dance Marathon trying to fundraise and saw some pretty sweet deals on Lehigh gear. Plus the walk isn’t too bad if you need a stretch break.

Well there you have it, now more than ever it should be easy for you to go enjoy a football at Goodman stadium. Next time there is a home game is also family weekend, so expect more people than normal and expect a good show. October 8th, vs Colgate. See you there!

How Attending the Celtic Classic Renewed My Pride In My Heritage

Each fall, Bethlehem hosts an event called the Celtic Classic; a festival showcasing and celebrating the Celtic culture. It includes everything from live music and dancing to strength and haggis eating competitions. Although I’ve lived in Bethlehem for four years, I’ve never attended the festival- until this year.

I am someone with a fairly rich Irish family background. Despite having familial roots in multiple European countries, with a last name like Lynch I’ve always felt most connected with my Irish heritage. Last year, I was lucky enough to spend four months


The Lynch flag in Galway’s Eyre Square

studying abroad in Galway, Ireland; a city that was founded in part by the Lynch clan. When your last name is emblazoned on a flag in the town square and a castle in the city center, it’s hard not to feel at home. Studying abroad was a life changing experience that brought me closer to my heritage than ever before, but that was a year ago. Since then, I have once again become accustomed to all of my American habits, losing some of the Irish customs I had picked up during my time there. Attending the Celtic Classic helped revive the passion I had for the Celtic culture while I was experiencing it first hand.

When I first arrived at the festival, I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who had dressed up for the occasion. I have never seen that many kilts! My friend Kallie and I headed over to the tents to shop around. I refrained from buying a kilt although I was tempted! In one tent I found some items that bore the Lynch family name and once again I felt that sense of belonging that I had grown accustomed to in Galway. We continued to walk around and eventually decided to stop and get some food. They had so many options it was hard to choose. I ended up getting the Irish nachos- thin spiral chips covered in gravy, cheese, and lamb. Yum! My friend tried the fish and chips, which were also delicious.


Me with my Irish Nachos – check out the guy in the kilt in the background!

We took our food and headed over to the main stage to see what was going on. As we got closer, I began to hear a distantly familiar sound: the hard shoes of an Irish Step Dancer. Sure enough, there on the stage were a group of girls wearing huge curls and bright dresses dancing an Irish jig. Once again I was reminded of a time when my pride in my heritage was at an all time high. I used to be one of those girls. I took Irish Step dancing classes for about four years during my childhood. It seems so long ago that I forget about it sometimes, but watching those dancers perform brought me back to the first time in my life that I felt connected to my heritage. We stayed at the main stage for their entire performance as well as for the band that came on after them. We had a lot of fun talking to the people around us and clapping along to the beat. There’s something about Celtic music that just makes you have to tap your foot. Eventually it got cold and the festival came to an end, so we headed home after a day of food and fun.

One of the biggest takeaways I got from attending the festival was the friendliness of the people. Multiple people came up and talked to us without prompting- the Irish truly are the friendliest people in the world! I really enjoyed my day at the Celtic Classic and, although it made me miss my time in Ireland, it reminded me to be proud of where I come from. My only regret is that I didn’t go until my senior year! I encourage everyone in the area to experience this festival, whether you have Celtic roots or not. Hopefully I will see you there next year, I will definitely be back!

Awesome Sounds at the Celtic Classic

Attention all indie music hunters who are truly interested in new and different sounds: an unlikely venue is sure to peak your interest – the Celtic Classic in Bethlehem, Pa.

Albeit, I had to open my mind to the possibility of finding modern experimental sounds in such an unlikely event, but the Celtic Classic did not disappoint. This outdoor event in this great university town in Pa is held in September every year. The added bonus is that you also get to see log throwing and sheep shearing – when was the last time you saw that?

The first innovative band I found playing was called the Moxie Strings. This was their first year performing around the US so good for them. They were very good, and said that they had a classical background but went into rock, Celtic, folk, and much more. They had some really cool sounds: a fiddle, a very stylish compact cello, and drums. The drums were very loud and intense and they didn’t block everything else out so no one was uncomfortable. This was a very interesting change to the norm. Here’s a little taste:


The options for beer

The sun was setting and there a very beautiful twilight over everything around this time. I decided that I should try one of the beers that they offer. I wanted to get something that wasn’t Guinness since that’s famous and very good, I wanted to try to something new. I ended up getting Smithwick’s, more or less a lighter Guinness and I really liked it. I also got a plastic Irish mug and it was awesome but they gave me way too much beer for a casual drink.

Encouraged by this first band, there were two more bands that I went to check out. I also found that the stage in the back (north) of the event is mainly the band music stage, while the stage near the front (south) is more about performances, like dances, etc. Obviously all these bands had a Celtic vibe, being at Celtic Classic but they were all really different uses of the same instruments and each band ended up with one instrument that was unique to their band.

So the second band I checked out was Emish, a four-person band consisting of drums, electric bass, electric guitar, fiddle, and their unique instrument, which was the flute. The flute added a different tone to just a strings band. Their songs were very energetic and like what would play in an Irish pub fight of an Irish James Bond movie. Their songs had some punk like characteristics and definitely some rock too. You can check them out here:

The last band was Seven Nations, and was, and I quote, “not your father’s Celtic band.” It was a big 6-person band with bass, drums, acoustic guitar, fiddle, and their unique instrument: bagpipes! They actually had two bagpipers doing harmonies. It was such a cool sight to have such an awesome sound in a more modern setting. They fit very well in this venue, obviously, and they had a bigger rock presence than the other bands. Additionally, they had a big stage presence, not just because they had lots of members, but that they were moving around and having fun with it all. A snippet of their video is here:


Found at a kilt store

OK so this is just three of the many bands that performed over the three-day weekend, and what a treat it was to check out some great new sounds in this unlikely venue in beautiful weather. For an experimental music internet aficionado such as myself, this was a very pleasant surprise.

Hamilton the Musical



It was about a calendar year ago today, my mom sent me a text message: “on September 11th next year we are going to see Hamilton!!” I responded, “What’s that?” My mom sends back the rolling eyes emoji with the message, “You’ll see”. So the rest of the year goes on and while my entire family is counting the days until we get to see Hamilton, I had already forgotten that I had agreed to go.

Fast forward to the week of September 11th: my mother reminds me that I must go home this weekend because the day that the rest of my family had been looking forward to for a year is now quickly approaching. I asked my mom what day of the week the play was, and she tells me that it is Sunday. Normally this would not be an issue, but this was the opening weekend for the NFL and the show happened to be right in the middle of the Philadelphia Eagles game that I had been looking forward too for almost as long as my family has been looking forward to seeing Hamilton the Musical.

On Thursday, in class, my professor, Silagh White informed our entrepreneurial communications class that she herself was going to see Hamilton. Her excitement to tell the class that she was going to see the Broadway show added a bit more interest in the show on my end. To this point, I was much more upset that I would be missing the football game than I was excited to see Hamilton.

When I got home for the weekend, my uncle jokingly offered me $250 dollars for my ticket and I would have happily accepted, still ignorant to what exactly Hamilton was and how special it is. My mother rolled her eyes at me and called me a fool. At the time I was annoyed that I just lost out on $250 and the ability to watch football in peace.

I have gone to several Broadway shows in the past, and to be quite honest, I was not the biggest fan. I usually found the music to be corny and I was not a fan of the fact that the characters always broke into song. Because of this generalization, I had little to no interest in seeing Hamilton the Musical.

On the day of the event, my mother, father, two sisters and I drove into New York City while I made the entire care sit through a radio broadcast of the first half of the Eagles game. As we arrived in Manhattan and approached Richard Rogers Theatre, we searched for a parking spot, eventually having to settle for an overpriced parking lot. As we were walking we noticed several memorials to those that lost their lives 15 years ago on that date (September 11th, 2001). We stopped and took a moment to acknowledge the tragic event that will live on in infamy.

There was an incredibly long line to get into the theatre. I stood there, not paying attention, following the Eagles game on my phone. “Anyone selling tickets? $300? $400?” I heard an elderly man and his wife exclaiming. I looked at my mom and was about to offer my ticket before receiving the worst death glare I had ever received. I looked around and saw a family wearing custom made shirts saying “Finally Seeing Hamilton!” At this point, my ignorance to how special this show is was beginning to go away.

We walk into the theatre, are handed the playbills, and sit down in our assigned seats. As we wait for the show to begin, I am still following the Eagles game on my phone before the usher asks me to put my phone away. I comply, and before I know it the singing begins. There’s one thing, though. They aren’t singing, they are rapping. It actually sounds good, like something I would listen to outside of this environment. The entire show was a rap. It was amazing. I had no idea that I could enjoy a musical but I sure was wrong.

Not only was this show incredibly brilliant and clever, but also it was a great refresher on my United States History. When people discuss the founding fathers, they talk about George Washington, of course, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, but no one ever really talks about Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton was instrumental in the drafting of the constitution and was George Washington’s most trusted advisor during the Revolutionary War. His role in the foundation of the United States is often overshadowed, but without his efforts it is questionable what this nation would be today.

As far as the play was concerned, my favorite character was without a doubt King George III. Although he is singing more than he is rapping, he was absolutely hilarious and brought the entire theatre into a laughing frenzy. Also, my favorite scene is when they are drafting the constitution with Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson engaging in a rap battle.

I was very surprised with how much I enjoyed the show. I was completely focused and did not check the score for the Eagles game a single time.

While I undoubtedly recommend this show to anyone who has an interest, and that should be everyone, Hamilton has absolutely no shortage of people that will buy their tickets. I even had the opportunity to sell my ticket for about four times how much it was worth paid just minutes before the show started.

I’m really happy that I let my mom “drag” me to this wonderful musical. Because I haven’t enjoyed musicals in the past, and because of this I wrote off all musicals. This experience was so enjoyable that I can see myself attending more in the future.

The Book of Mormon on Broadway

I couldn’t wait for Friday to come. It had been a long week and a trip into the city to hang out with my mom sounded like exactly what I needed. We’re from California, so any chance I get to see my mom is pretty rare and exciting. My mom’s best friend from college lives in Manhattan, so she spends a good amount of time visiting her there and, lucky for me, New York City is just a bus ride from Bethlehem. The idea that New York City is an hour from me is still is so crazy to me. I grew up taking a few vacations there every now and again and it always seemed so mesmerizing and vast.

My mom had informed me that this weekend was going to be a very special weekend because we would be seeing The Book of Mormon on Broadway. I had only seen a couple of plays before, and was very excited, so at the end of my classes on Friday I packed my weekend bag as fast as I could, eager to get there. By complete coincidence my roommate was also going home that weekend so she offered me a ride to her hometown in New Jersey and from there I could take a shorter bus into the city. This sounded like a more pleasant journey than sitting on a bus with strangers so I gladly accepted. After about an hour and half of recalling our weekend and listening to music, we came to her tiny little town of Oradell. After a ten-minute tour of her whole town (did I say it was tiny) she dropped me off at the bus stop near her house and I hopped on the next bus.

Fast forward about an hour, I step off the bus at Port Authority, my phone is on 4% battery and I’m alone in this gigantic city. Panicked, I texted my mom that I needed the address NOW before my phone died and by some miracle I hailed a cab and made it to the apartment in one piece, all before letting it completely die. Realizing my reliance on my phone for every aspect of my safety and existence, I vowed to never travel charger-less again. After my mom and I’s little reunion that night, we ordered in Chinese food and prepared for our day ahead.

IMG_0008.JPGThe play started at 2:00pm, so after our slow morning and lovely breakfast of real New York bagels, we headed over to Broadway at around 1:00pm. The last time I had been on Broadway was for our 8th grade New York/DC field trip and we saw Billy Elliot. I can’t say I remember much about the content of the play, but I do remember thinking the theatre was incredible. The particular theatre that was showing The Book of Mormon was the Eugene O’Neill theatre and it was just as incredible as I had remembered. After waiting for about 10 minutes in line outside, we finally were ushered in, handed a playbill and directed to our seats which were literally the last row you could possibly sit in, but I wasn’t complaining. I was really surprised at how packed in we all were. Every time
someone realized they were also in our row the whole line of people would have to file out to allow for the people to get to their seats. This didn’t seem particularly practical to me but I suppose that’s the demand for Broadway shows. We waited about twenty more minutes for the show to start and finally the lights turned off, and the curtains were drawn back. The next 2 hours and 20 mins were fabulous. The whole crowd laughed out loud as Mormon missionary boys in suits and African villagers danced around and sung about AIDs, Jesus Christ and Yoda. It was vulgar, it was absurd, it was offensive to anyone who is in the slightest religious, and it was absolIMG_0016.JPGutely hysterical. During some parts I actually questioned how everyone in the room was ok with what they were seeing but then I remembered it won nine Tony awards and people must not be too offended by it. There was one actress in it, her character’s was named Nabulungi, and I swear she had the most beautiful voice I had ever heard. Every time she had a singing part I got the chills and whole crowd roared in applause at the end when it was her turn to bow. Of course I bought the soundtrack right after. It’s funny because I’ve never been super into plays or musicals and this experience was completely eye opening. I definitely appreciate good music and entertainment but I have never truly appreciated Broadway and the talent that performs there. I will forever be in awe of those performers who dedicate their time to making others laugh, or cry, or feel anything, and it really hit me in that moment watching and listening to her sing.

IMG_0018.JPGAfter the play, my mom and both walked out nodding in agreement that it was amazing and funny and vulgar and everything we had hoped it would be. We strolled in to Grand Central station to eat dinner at the Oyster House and discussed the play all the way until we got home that night. The next morning, I had to wake up and get back on the bus to go back to Bethlehem. I said my goodbyes to my mom and thanked her for being so cool and taking me to plays and hanging out with me. I can truly say it was an experience of a lifetime and I encourage everyone, interested in plays or not, to go to Broadway, watch a play, and experience the magic. And if you like comedy, and you’re not easily offended, please go see this one. I’m still laughing.

The Crayola Experience: Sorority Edition

Each year, the sisters of my sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, take time away from our busy lives to take part in a sisterhood retreat. One Saturday morning this September, our Human Resources Director planned for us to go to the Crayola Experience in Easton, PA. As someone who has been there multiple times during my childhood, I looked forward to having fun with my sorority sisters.

The Crayola Experience is intended for families. Children can learn more about the crayon manufacturing process, make some crayon-related crafts to take home, and have fun exploring the various floors of Model Magic, painting, and puzzles. As college students, you would expect the day to go a little differently, but we did exactly what we would’ve done if we were still 8 years old (except we didn’t need anyone to read the instructions on the machines to us).


Entrance to the Crayola Experience

Our Human Resources Director believed it would be most cost-effective for everyone to carpool and figure out rides. It wasn’t the easiest way to do it and we were still making sure everyone had transportation the morning of the event. However, it worked out in the end. I volunteered to drive three of my sisters who live in the Kappa Alpha Theta house with me since I have my car at Lehigh. It was a 30-minute drive; my friend directed me using my phone’s GPS and we found a parking garage across the street from the Crayola Experience with ease. Parking cost 9 dollars for the 3 hours we were there and we split it between the four of us. We learned a few days later that we could be reimbursed by Theta for the cost of parking, which was a nice surprise.

Since there was no dress code, a few sisters chose to wear our sorority letters and Lehigh t-shirts. Although we always hope that our sisters are behaving appropriately, it is especially important to do so when wearing apparel that clearly identifies us. We strive to represent Theta and Lehigh in the best way possible. Since we were around a lot of children, we had to be conscious of what we said and how we acted, which I think everyone did well. Not only did we behave appropriately for the setting, but I know that I interacted with a few of the kids and I hope that I made their experience an even better one.

The Crayola Experience has a plethora of options for fun crafts, activities, and shows. One of the first activities that I did was customize a crayon label and use a machine to wrap it around a crayon. This created a fun keepsake that I was able to bring home. There was also a room with an 85-foot long “river” in which you maneuvered your boat through different obstacles. Although it was educational, it was also time-consuming, somewhat complicated for kids, and hardly related to crayons. If you have small children or are running on limited time, I would recommend skipping this one. On the top floor there were a variety of crafts using crayon wax, including drip art, drawing with hot wax, and molding a crayon into a variety of shapes that were all exciting and fun.


Personalized crayon

            One of my sisters mentioned to me that she was hungry (it was still a few hours until we’d be back at Theta for lunch) so we evaluated our food options. There was a small counter selling soft pretzels, popcorn, and drinks, however they were very overpriced. I remembered that there used to be a McDonald’s on the bottom floor, but it has since been replaced (I haven’t been there in 6 years) with a Crayola Café and was probably also overpriced. Earlier we saw that the Easton Farmer’s Market was happening outside and knew that would be our best option. We got stamped so we could come back in and walked around the farmer’s market. My friend and I got hot dogs and sat by the fountain. We then walked down a beautiful side street called Bank Street that my sister had seen from one of the windows in the Crayola Experience and then went back inside to continue our day.


Bank Street Creamery

            I would highly recommend the Crayola Experience to another sorority as a sisterhood event. The ability to bond with sisters over activities intended for kids (but fun for adults) was something that we don’t get to do at school and it was reasonably priced. Since I had good memories of being at the Crayola Experience in the past I wasn’t sure how it would compare being with friends instead of family and it exceeded my expectations. I think that our behavior and positive attitude were crucial in keeping the employees positive and eager to let us play. I never felt out-of-place or as if they wished we weren’t there because we were too old. I would certainly also recommend it to families with children because it joined fun with education and Crayola is a brand that kids are familiar with. I don’t know how our future sisterhood events will compare to this one; I think we all really loved it. Our Human Resources Director did a great job planning, which was important as well. I hope to go back to the Crayola Experience in another few years, and hopefully back to Easton much sooner. Feel free to comment with any comments or questions about my experience or the venue, I would love to talk more about it.

2016 US National Highland Games Championship

It all started Friday, with a text in the Lehigh Track and Field Thrower group message that said, “For all those who don’t follow Dan McKim on Instagram… He has officially landed and is at MOD pizza”. Knowing that MOD Pizza was only a few minutes away, it was quickly followed up with “See you at MOD in ten minutes”. To say members of the Lehigh track team were excited for another year of volunteering at the Celtic Classic Highland Games was an understatement.

Since before I started at Lehigh, members of the track team, specifically the throwers have volunteered at the U.S. Highland Games National Championship held on the field at Celtic Classic. It mostly attracted the interest of the throwers because the events done by the professional athletes correlate directly to discus, shot put, weight, and hammer. Therefore, most of the athletes are former high school and collegiate throwers. In the tight-knit, but very small and sometimes undervalued, throwing community, being able to connect with the athletes and watch the events sheds a lot of light on a sport that usually doesn’t get a lot of attention, something both sides can equally appreciate.

This year, nine members of the team volunteered at different times on Saturday and Sunday.


The morning shift in between events. 

As members of the Highland Field Crew, we retrieve implements for the athletes during the events, and after each event, we add dirt to divots or holes so the athletes don’t injure themselves. For events like the light hammer, we just have to carry the implement back to the athletes.

For caber, a 15-20 foot wooden telephone-like pole, five or six volunteers have to pick up the implement, carry it back on our shoulders, and carefully stand the pole back up for the athlete. It looks simple, but it actually requires practice and is pretty stressful. If we don’t plant the pole in between the athlete’s feet and communicate with him, the pole can easily tip forward or backward and people can get injured. Also, if we don’t all push at the same time or fast enough, the caber can fall different ways as well. It takes a few practice tries to get the hang of it, but once we try it a few times and make sure to communicate, things go smoothly.

For the throwers, this opportunity for us to volunteer gives us a chance to break out of the infamous “Lehigh bubble” and make connections in the Bethlehem community. We interact with the crowd throughout the day and the announcer frequently tells the crowd about our involvement. Also, we get to spend a lot of time talking to the men who run the field crew while retrieving and form great relationships with them. I send them our indoor and outdoor track schedules, and they try their best to come to our Lehigh vs. Lafayette dual meets dressed in their kilts to cheer us on. Chip, the field marshall who coordinates everything, has really made an effort to get to know a lot of us. When he comes to our meets, he makes sure to talk to each of us and find out our best marks, so he knows if we have a good throw. Having an extra person cheering for us definitely makes a difference.


Members of last year’s throwing team with Chip at the Lehigh Games meet. 

In addition, we also get to talk to the Highland Games athletes, who come to the Celtic Classic for the U.S. National Championships. I don’t think many people realize that these athletes train year-round for these competitions, and the one at Celtic is the last of the season. The athletes have to be in the U.S. top ten rankings to qualify. Although they take it seriously, the athletes also have a lot of fun while competing. They joke around with us and each other, involve the crowd, and always support whichever competitor is throwing. It’s a really fun environment to be a part of.

After the events, we sometimes have time to talk to the athletes, and they ask us about our upcoming seasons and careers. We get to talk about throwing and training, and then are able to continue to follow their training and stay connected through social media. Dan McKim, who has won three out of the four years I have participated, works for Sorinex, a strength equipment company, and installs sophisticated weight rooms in college athletic centers around the country. He posts videos of his training, as well as satirical stories and videos about being a man who is much larger than normal.

group at track.JPG

Members of this year’s field crew with Dan McKim and Chip.

Matt Vincent, another big name in the Highland Games, created his own brand and promotes it on his social media pages, as well as posting videos of his training programs and trips to competitions. The throwing history the athletes have as well as their continued strength training make them relatable to us as college throwers. By following these athletes, we become more invested in the Highland Games, which makes us more excited to work the event during Celtic Classic.


Members of the 2014 Highland Games Field Crew pose with Matt Vincent.

So on Sunday, with sunburnt faces and Aw Shucks Corn in hand, we said our goodbyes to fellow volunteers and took our annual flexing pictures with the athletes. Until next year Celtic Classic, because although I’m graduating, there is a pretty high chance I’ll be back.


Me with Dan McKim, who has won three out of the four Highland Games I have volunteered at.

It’s really interesting to stay connected with these athletes in the offseason and I highly recommend following them or at least checking out their profiles on Instagram.

Dan McKim

Matt Vincent

Spencer Tyler

Jake Sullivan

Chuck Kasson

Nate Burchett


Getting Cray at the Crayola Experience


My  sister Par and I

Last week, my sorority hosted its annual sisterhood retreat at the Crayola Experience in Easton – and things got pretty cray.

And by cray, I mean we all turned into five-year olds. When we walked in, we probably got some judgmental looks from parents and their kids. However, we were too distracted by the amazing aesthetics to notice or care.

The walls were adorned with so much color it felt like we were inside of a crayon box. It also smelled heavily like ice cream and candy. It was as if we were trapped inside a toddler’s favorite dream.

We were all given two tokens, which I used to make my own crayons. All I had to do was pick a color, and name it. Most people named their crayons after themselves, so I decided to do the same. A tear slid down my cheek as the machine told me, “Sorry, the word ‘Fanny’ is inappropriate. Please try again.” Kidding about the crying. But yes, this really happened!

Luckily, I thought of an alternative and named the crayon “Fannypack” instead. I asked the employees what I should name my second crayon, and they told me that most kids name their crayons after something they really love. So that’s what I did:


Make-your-own-crayon station!

After that, I explored the entire building with my friends. There was so much to do on each floor: painting, puzzle-making, molding, and of course, coloring. There was even a room called “Doodle in the Dark”, where you could draw in a pitch-black room with glow-in-the-dark markers. I was the oldest person in the room, but the least creative. I saw kids turn abstract scribbles into complex shapes and characters. A child’s imagination really is something special and untouchable.


Seen in the “Doodle in the Dark” room

The most amazing thing about the experience was that it was simple, but fun. All I needed to have a good time were crayons, my sisters, and some paper. When I look at children of the new generation, I always see them on a tablet or a phone. Their need to constantly be entertained by technology is sad and – honestly, a bit scary.

Fortunately, I saw children at the Crayola Experience play, interact, and color with each other. It put me at ease. It’s a relief that a pastime like coloring remains timeless.

By the end of the trip, my friends and I were feeling a bit nostalgic. The Crayola Experience reminded me of how much I love art. I remember going to the MoMa (Museum of Modern Art in New York City) every time they offered a student discount, and attending painting classes in Williamsburg with my sister.


Just in case you’re curious, here’s a painting of mine.


After putting things in perspective, I made a wild discovery. My love for art all started when I picked up my first crayon and made my first ridiculous piece of “art”. I imagine that a lot of other people develop a fondness of things they are passionate about when they are very young too, which is why I would recommend parents bring their children to the Crayola Experience.

Coloring can also be therapeutic, so it is a great place to go if you need some easy relaxation. Between four o’clocks and papers, everyone deserves a break once in a while. It is definitely a lot cheaper and closer than Disney World, so I would recommend it to my fellow broke college students. It only cost fifteen dollars and a fifteen-minute drive. A small price to pay for a trip down memory lane and a colorful adventure, if you ask me. If you’re interested in visiting, you can learn more here.

If you know of any other fun places for someone like me who’s a kid at heart, please let me know in the comments!