La Festa Italiana

Next to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, La Festa Italiana is the biggest event in the Electric City. Tens of thousands descend upon Scranton’s Courthouse Square for the best Italian food offered by local restaurants as well as many from New York. Falling on Labor Day Weekend, La Festa marks the end of summer and one last chance for fun before it’s time to go back to school and work.

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The Secret Life of Public Spaces Performance

Enjoy this performance by Penn State’s University Dance Company. The dancers put on quite a performance this past spring. The Arboretum at Penn State was the perfect location.

Four Seasons: The Arboretum at Penn State

I visit The Arboretum at Penn State on my daily walks at lunchtime or after work. It’s one of my favorite places on a campus that is full of scenic and peaceful spots. Over the past few years I have been taking photos of various spots at weekly intervals. Below are some of my images through the four seasons.

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The Secret Life of Public Spaces

See the University Dance Company on Friday and Saturday nights this weekend. They will be performing outdoors at The Arboretum at Penn State at 7 p.m. both evenings. A show for kids will be at 6 p.m. on Saturday. It’s part of theThe Secret Life of Public Spaces project.

The Arboretum is a beautiful location for modern dance. If you are not familiar with modern dance and haven’t been to the Arboretum yet, go. It combines two favorites of mine. You’ll see why.

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Free ebook of Welcome to Scranton

Welcome to Scranton is available for free to Amazon Kindle users from Saturday, February 4 through Wednesday, February 9. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can use the Kindle App on your iPhone, Android phone, Blackberry, Windows computer or Mac. The App is available here. Hope you enjoy.

Scranton The All American City

Scranton The All American City

Christmas Time at Penn State and State College

Enjoy this slide show of images from Penn State and State College, PA.



Fall Foliage at Penn State

The past few months I’ve been working on a photo project in my spare time. I work at Penn State’s University Park Campus, a truly beautiful place, especially in autumn as the leaves change. As we go through our fast-paced lives, we often don’t notice the fall foliage until it’s halfway through the cycle or at the end. I wanted to follow it day-by-day. Every day at lunch or after work, I would take photos of Pattee Mall and the maple trees outside Old Botany Building and took in the changes as they happened. I also wanted to share the photos with Penn State alums who have not been to campus in many years.

Pattee Mall is home to majestic elm trees, which provide a canopy along the mall. Sadly, the elms have been affected by disease over the past decade. Photos from twenty years ago show the mall lined with tall, mature elms. Many are gone. The mall now has many young elms. Other varieties of trees have also been planted.

Along Pattee Mall is Old Botany Building. It has three maple trees outside it that provide the most brilliant display of fall foliage on campus. Each day I took photos from the exact same spots. Many students and families take photos of themselves with the trees in the background. You’ll see why. I created video slide shows of the photos. Watch in full screen. I hope you enjoy.

Greg Halpin is the author of Welcome to Scranton.

Old Botany Building

Pattee Mall Facing the Library from East Pollock Road

Pattee Mall View in the direction of the Allen Street Gates

Free eBook for Public Radio Supporters

It’s fund drive time for public radio stations around the country. As a public radio listener and supporter, I encourage you to become a member of your local station. To reward those who do, I am giving away 100 eBook copies of Welcome to Scranton. The story has a couple of hidden NPR references that public radio fans will appreciate.

Here’s how it works:
1. Become a member of the public radio station of your choice. If you are renewing, that counts, too.
2. Be one of the first 100 people to email me some proof of your support–a thank you email from your local station will do. You can forward that to me at
3. Include in the email they type of eReader you have–Kindle, iPad, Nook or some other device.
4. I’ll send the eBooks out on Saturday, October 22.

Enjoy the new trailer for Welcome to Scranton below. Make sure you go full screen and buckle up. It’s a wild ride.

Welcome to Scranton Book Trailer

The trailer for Welcome to Scranton is finally done. Normally a trailer is released before or at the same time as the book. This one took almost a year. Still, I’m pleased with the result and glad I took my time.

The trailer is basically a drive to and through Scranton at high speed. My wife Elisha and I shot the original footage last October. I drove the car while she operated a video camera through the moon-roof. It’s an hour of footage reduced to three minutes, thanks to video editing. Several places mentioned in Welcome to Scranton are shown. Unfortunately, the shot of the Welcome sign on the Scranton Expressway turned out blurry. We forgot the video camera on subsequent trips to Scranton and eventually the trailer project fell of the radar. We went back recently for the sole purpose of filming a good shot of the Welcome sign. It took two passes and we actually stopped the car alongside the sign to make sure we got it.

The video was done but I still didn’t have the right song to go with it. I host a jazz show on the radio so I wanted to use a jazz song. No jazz I tried worked well with the speed of the video. Anything in jazz that does move fast enough to keep up with the video is too hardcore for a non-jazz fan to enjoy.

As I was driving home from Scranton on a Saturday night after a day visiting family, I tuned into Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion on the radio. Garrison introduced Paul Johnson and Gil Orr of  The Duo-tones. They played an incredibly fast surf guitar tune from the 1960s. It’s an amazing song that gets you moving. They followed it up with “Mr. Moto,” another great song, which Paul Johnson wrote himself as a teenager. As soon as the Duo-tones stopped playing, I wanted to hear the songs again. When I got home, I immediately fired up the computer,  went to the band’s website, and purchased “Pipeline” and “Mr. Moto.” I’ve listened to them over and over since that night.

Pipeline fit perfectly with the video and the Welcome to Scranton‘s tagline of “It’s a wild ride.”

Below is the video. Click on the full screen button in the bottom right and buckle up because it truly is a wild ride. I hope you enjoy.

BookFest PA, State College, July 16, 2011

Join me and over 20 other authors at BookFest PA on Saturday, July 16 from 10 – 5 outside of Schlow Library in State College. We will be signing and selling books, as well as chatting with readers.

Many people know about The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, better known as Arts Fest. It’s a five-day event, featuring artists from all over the country, selling their work along the sidewalks of State College and Penn State’s University Park Campus. Arts Fest is an event State College residents look forward to all year long. The festival includes fun for kids, live music, 5K and 10K runs, numerous other events, and a variety of food vendors. It draws about 125,000 people annually and is a boon for local business during State College’s quiet summer months.

For the second year in a row, Arts Fest includes BookFest PA. Featured authors Lisa Scottoline, Tamar Myers, and Nancy Martin, will be there along with Cyn Balog, Josh Berk, Lyndsay Eland, Lyndsay Barrett George, Paul Yeager, and Daryl Gregory.

Local authors include Sylvia Apple, Georgia Ann Butler, John F. Carr, Judy Ann Davis, Jeffrey Frazier, John Gastil, Cindy Simmons, Jennifer Herbstritt, Sandra Hill, Ken Hull, Marie Jackman, Heather Jordan, Janice McElhoe, Jodi Moore, Kieryn Nicolas, David Penek, Melicent Sammis, Judith Vicary Swisher, John Swisher,  Patricia Thomas, poet Zoë Brigley Thompson, Phillip Winsor, Veronica Winters, and me. Please stop by, say hello, and have your books signed by the authors.

Thanks to Pat Griffith at Schlow Library and the other BookFest PA and Arts Fest organizers for making this event happen.

Learn more at BookFest PA and at Arts Fest.

Greg Halpin is the author of Welcome to Scranton.