“Sometimes the greatest adventure is simply a conversation.”
~ Amadeus Wolfe
Each of us has an opportunity to meet someone new every day: making a best friend in kindergarten, having a drink with new coworkers, or meeting that special someone at a park, a bar or even online.
This year we added a few new categories to our “Best of Lancaster” 2017 Annual Readers’ Survey and revived an oldie: Best Place to Meet New People. The survey concluded with the following top three results: church, Tellus360 and a dog park. So, we sought out local individuals, dog park members and Tellus360 staff to share their stories.
Church “A Divine Intervention”
The Rev. Canon Stanley and Sandra Imboden met at St. James Episcopal Church in downtown Lancaster on Easter Sunday 2005, and they possibly had a little help from above.
Sandra explains that her only brother, Andy, passed away December 19, 2004. A few weeks before his death, she had started a new job with the Episcopal bishop of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. She says it was a very difficult and lonely time for her, especially with Christmas being a few days away.
A few miles north of where Sandra lived, Stanley’s wife, Diane, passed away the very next day – December 20, 2004. Having been married to Diane for 49 years, this was a deeply sorrowful time for him, as well.
While attending St. James that particular Easter, Sandra, at that time, was working as the Rector’s Verger. She explains that the rector liked to invite all the retired clergy to participate during Easter service; therefore, Stanley attended. Although the two of them had never met at this point, they both knew about each other because of their roles in the church and their recent losses.
After the day’s service, Sandra noticed Stan in the vesting room. She decided to approach and offer her belated condolences, as did he. Sandra says, “When I asked how he was doing, he replied, ‘Lonely as hell!’” He then asked if she would like to accompany him to dinner one evening. Not knowing if it was going to be a counseling session or a date, Sandra agreed.
A few months later, the two were engaged. They were married on February 11, 2006, at 10 a.m., to be exact. Both are now retired and enjoy visiting the different churches, traveling, playing Scrabble, attending local events and enjoying their family (two sons, three grandchildren and two black labs).
When asked why they think “a church” is the best place to meet new people, Sandra says, “If you want to meet new people, I would think you would want to meet new people who have similar values and interests that you have. So, if you were a person who goes to church, you might want to meet another person who goes to church so you already know that you have something in common with them.” She continues to say, “Most churches have social opportunities for people beyond just the Sunday or weekend services. They have newcomer dinners and different classes.”
“I’ve had numerous weddings that I’ve officiated for people who met at St. James after losing a beloved or meeting for the first time,” Stan adds. Saintjameslancaster.org
TELLUS360 “A City Connection”
It wasn’t just any pub in the county that took second place in our survey for the Best Place to Meet New People: Tellus360 has turned into one of the most popular venues in Lancaster because of its employees, its atmosphere and its patrons.
“We’re a lot of fun! The building offers several different experiences throughout,” says Bar Manager Kate Cannon-Davis. “Live music, DJs, story slams, even Connect Four tournaments, there’s always something going on.”
Tellus360 opened during the earlier part of 2011. Owner Joe Devoy operated it as an Irish antiques and refurbished wood furniture store at first. Over time, the building transitioned to the popular pub and event venue it is today.
“We love what we do. We realize that it’s our connection to this city and its amazing residents that make us special,” Kate shares.
As far as the type of events they host, Kate says, “You name it, we’ll give it a shot.” She lists weddings, gallery openings, fashion shows, CD release parties, baby showers, bar Olympics, refugee concerts, salsa dancing, birthdays and World Cup watch parties, just to name a few. The photo-booth-style photos seen here were shot by Nick Gould during the Velocity event held at Tellus360 on September 28.
Of course, many friendships and relationships have been established at the Irish pub. When asked how many married couples have met at Tellus360, Kate says, “It would be hard to pin down a number because there have been quite a few. So much so that the owner, Joe, is now an ordained minister.”
As far as the most unique event to have occurred at Tellus360, Kate mentions, “A Cirque du Soleil style performance from the ceiling of the front bar. It was an amazing sight.” She also adds, “the incredible turnout for every game when the U.S. was playing in the World Cup.” Tellus360.com
DOG PARK “A Common Thread”
At Dog Park Mount Joy, many of its members agree that taking their furry friends to the dog park is an advantage not only for their dogs, but also for themselves.
“Not only do the dogs socialize, but it gets you to socialize with their owners,” says committee member Tina Varnes, who is the owner of Bridget and Dillon. “For someone like me, who doesn’t really approach people, I would approach someone more when they have a dog. I’m not an outgoing person, per se, but I’ll talk to anybody who has a dog.”
The park's president, Lynn McCleary, owner of Karlee and Kyan, says a lot of work and planning went into the construction of the park, which opened November 2016 and currently has over 350 members.
“No matter what your political affiliation is or your religion or any of that, there’s a common thread here that runs through all the people, and that’s the dogs,” Lynn says. “I think it’s just a great place to come because there’s not many places you can go with your dog and have a good time.”
A lot of members attend daily, like Gene Garner, his wife and their two dogs, Trixie and Perry. “It’s really casual here,” Gene shares. Member Jim Cummings, who also has two dogs, Candee and Riley, likes the fact that Dog Park Mount Joy has “responsible owners. All dogs here have had their shots, members have homeowners insurance, and the people here really care about their pets and keep an eye on them.”
teve Douple, who visits with his Great Dane, Waldo, says, “I've met a lot of people that have moved to the area that I wouldn’t have met had it not been for the dog park.”
The group’s bond has become so strong that when Annie Ritsch, the park’s youngest member, unexpectedly passed away in late September at the age of 23, a large contingent of the park’s members attended her October 7 funeral service. (Annie is pictured with her dog, Frankie, in the group photo at the top of the page – she is on the left.) “She was a member from day one,” says Lynn of Annie’s dedication to the park. Members will be holding a memorial service and tree dedication in Annie's honor at the park on November 1.