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Tips to Keep Your Family Safe This Fourth of July

Tips to Keep Your Family Safe This Fourth of July!

The Fourth of July holiday is a summertime staple that is meant to be filled with fun memories. Yet, there are many possible dangers that could cause injury, illness or worse, if you don’t take precautions. In an effort to help you make this Fourth of July safe and enjoyable for all, take a look at a few key ways you can minimize the risk of something spoiling your holiday.

Set ground rules

Foremost, establish ground rules with both children and adults. For children, make sure they know what they can and cannot do. For example, young children may not touch or play with fireworks. For adults, set ground rules for who is responsible for monitoring the children and guarding them from hazards like a hot grill or fire pit. When there is a large group of people, it’s easy to assume someone else is handling these responsibilities and that’s when accidents happen. Avoid such a scenario by setting ground rules for the day.

Identify and address potential dangers in advance

While setting your ground rules, also identify and address potential dangers. Make it an activity for your whole family! Ask children what they think could be a danger and explain what they should do to stay safe. Are they allowed near fireworks? Can they play by the fire pit? What should they do if someone gets hurt? Awareness is the first step in protecting your family against holiday hazards.

Never leave young children around fireworks unattended

Children, especially young ones, don’t realize the danger of fireworks. Foremost, keep any fireworks packed away from a child’s reach. Next, be smart when assuming your child is ready to take part in fireworks. In a Newsweek report, it was found that 36% of firework injuries occurred to the arms and hands and sparklers were to blame 40% of the time. You may think a young child can handle holding a sparkler, but they can easily touch themselves with it, drop it or attempt to eat it. Stay cautious!

Find alternatives to fireworks

To avoid the danger of fireworks altogether, forgo them at your Fourth of July celebration. Replace them with festive glow sticks for young children! Children will still get a kick out of running around with their glowing red, white and blue colors and hardly miss the pizazz of a real firework. Best of all, this substantially reduces your risk of injury.

Be mindful of the sun and heat

Outside of fire and fireworks, there are still some other dangers that can be found during Fourth of July celebrations. In July, the sun is hot and you spend a majority of time outside. People often forget to apply sunscreen and drink enough water, leading to damaging sunburn and dehydration. Frequently check in with your family members to make sure you’re reapplying sunscreen and drinking a glass of water every hour. This will help to keep everyone cool, comfortable and safe.

Celebrate responsibly!

Finally, be responsible when celebrating with adult beverages. As the adult, you need to be alert for the safety of your children and yourself. Too much alcohol can cause poor judgement or delayed reaction. When mixed with fireworks, swimming pools and driving, this can be a very dangerous combination. Celebrate responsibly for the sake of everyone you love!

How do you and your family plan to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday? We wish you a fun and safe day!

Fun Things to Do in Central PA this Summer

Fun Things to Do in Central PA This Summer

Throughout Central Pennsylvania – Harrisburg, Lancaster, York – there are countless types of entertainment and activities to suit the whole family. Whether you are looking for something educational or something adventurous, this is an area filled with a robust history and beautiful scenery. Here’s a look at just some of the many excursions you can choose to place on your calendar this summer!

Educational

Pennsylvania State Capitol – If you’ve never taken a full tour of Pennsylvania’s Capitol, this is a must-do for the summer, especially on a rainy day when you’re looking for an inside activity. The history of this building is astounding, plus the summer months are quiet at the Capitol, allowing you to see much more than you would on a busy session day. Did we mention it’s free?

Whitaker Center – Also located in downtown Harrisburg, the Whitaker Center is great for those who are young, and young at heart. You can touch, climb, play and explore for hours. Be sure to plan time to catch a viewing on their IMAX screen, too.

Museums

We could write an entire article just on the museums located in Central PA, so instead we’ll point out a few. The State Museum offers floors upon floors of information on Pennsylvania’s beautiful history. The Hershey Story answers all your questions about how the Hershey brand came to be. And the U.S. Army Heritage Center enthralls kids and adults alike with its military history.

Adventurous

Hershey Park – People come from far and wide to visit Hershey Park. Be sure to take advantage of this attraction right in your back yard! A family pass is a smart idea so you can go multiple times throughout the summer, some days hitting the rollercoasters, other days spent at the waterpark and still other days visiting the zoo.

Dutch Wonderland – Head to Lancaster for a day and visit another awesome theme park right here in Central PA. Dutch Wonderland has rides and entertainment for all ages. Voted one of the Top 5 Best Kid’s Park in the World by Amusement Today magazine, Dutch Wonderland creates a truly magical experience.

And just a little bit outside Central PA are two more parks worth exploring: Dorney Park and Knoebels!

Outdoors

Lake Tobias – Did you know there are lions, alligators and tigers in Halifax? Don’t worry, they are safely contained and cared for at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. Their signature Safari Tours make this a fun and wild adventure unlike anything you’ve likely experienced before.

Fort Hunter – Pack a picnic lunch and your hiking boots, and spend the day exploring the sprawling property of Fort Hunter. Throughout the summer, there are also nature-themed events, crafts and classes you can take advantage of to learn more about the ecosystem here in Central PA.

Pride of the Susquehanna – Take advantage of one of Central PA’s finest attractions, the Susquehanna River, and view it by boat this summer. The Pride of the Susquehanna offers a full array of events, whether it be for a special date night or a fun cruise with the whole family. There’s nothing quite as relaxing as being on the water.

City Island – Drive, walk, bike or boat over to City Island and enjoy a game of mini golf before heading inside the baseball stadium for an All-American summer evening with the family. Located literally on an island in the Susquehanna River, City Island is a gem just off the coast of downtown Harrisburg.

Do you plan to try some of these activities this summer? Be sure to share your experiences and which ones you liked best!

6 Ways to Better Control Your Spending

6 Ways to Better Control Your Spending

If you feel like lately your spending has gone off the rails and you don’t know where to begin to get back on track, the good news is there are some easy changes you can implement to make a big difference! Take a look at these six tips for how to better control your spending and stay on budget for reaching your goal of a debt free life!

Create a budget…and stick to it!

It doesn’t matter where you stand financially; it’s smart to have a budget for how you spend. This provides valuable insight into where you spend your money and potentially areas you can cut back, should you need to. It only take a little effort to outline a budget that allows both flexibility and accountability.

Only shop when there is a goal in mind

Shopping is a favorite pastime for many! It becomes dangerous when spending unplanned money becomes an ongoing habit, especially for things you simply don’t need. If you really want to curb your spending, only shop when you have a goal in mind. Create a clear shopping list and stick to it. Sure, some other things might catch your eye, but if they are not on the list, they don’t make the cut until you’ve saved up additional funds to pay for them.

Don’t fall for marketing traps

In line with shopping with a goal in mind, be aware of marketing traps that most commonly come in the form of sales. It’s a store’s job to convince you to buy something you don’t really need by making it seem like you’re getting a deal. The best “deal” you can get is paying nothing and walking away from an item you don’t really need. Fifty percent off is still 50% more than what you came intending to spend on something not on your shopping list.

Keep in mind your long-term goals

Spending your money on an impulse buy might seem enjoyable right now, but what would be more enjoyable is that Caribbean vacation (or anything else!) you had been meaning to save up for long-term. Don’t lose sight of the prize. Put reminders around your house, in your car and in your wallet so that you stay focused on that long-term financial goal.

Make spending feel more “real” by using cash

Using cash instead of plastic is a tried and true way to curb a spending addition. You are better able to physically see your budget for the week (or month) as well as how quickly it’s being spent on different items. Once you run out of cash, you essentially run over your budget, so it’s a hard stop on spending that makes you think twice about those impulse purchases.

Use technology for easy tracking

Finally, be sure to take advantage of the many different platforms available to help track spending and set a budget. Mint.com is a highly reputable platform, free of charge, that aggregates all of your bank accounts to show you income verses expenses as well as month to month trends in spending.

No matter where you stand financially, these tips should help put you on the right track to living within your means. Share the tip you plan to put into practice first and why by commenting below!

4 Summer Food Trends You’ll Want to Try Right Now!

4 Summer Food Trends You’ll Want to Try Right Now!

It’s (almost) summer and that means it’s grilling season! This is the perfect time of year to take advantage of eating outside as often as possible and making use of the many fresh foods available this season. It’s also the perfect time to step outside your comfort zone and try something new. Whether you’re craving something sweet or savory, we have some recipe ideas that will get your taste buds tingling!

Watermelon Ice Cubs

You read that right! A hot (or should we say cool) trend out right now is taking pureed watermelon and freezing it in an ice cube tray. You can add these sweet cubes to a regular glass of water, for a fruity kick or use them in any variety of juices or cocktails to add flavor without watering down the drink. Why stop with watermelon? Any fruit puree can be frozen and used in the same way. Peaches, cantaloupe, honeydew and pineapple would all make great varieties.

Vegetables Wrapped in Steak

This trend offers a new twist on the ever-popular kabobs. All it requires is a thin piece of meat, like skirt steak, and your favorite vegetables. Slice your vegetables long, about the same length as your steak, or meat of choice. Then wrap them with the meat and pin closed with tooth picks. Add them to the grill and watch the magic happen. The meat adds flavor to the vegetables, while keeping them moist. The end result is a perfectly portioned meal, ready to be served.

Grilled Fruit

This next summer food trend marries the smoky taste of the grill with the sweet taste of fruit. Maybe you’ve had grilled pineapple before, but this new trends opens the door to every fruit! Place your strawberries, watermelon, peaches, blueberries and more on skewers, just as you would meat or vegetables, then grill them to perfection. You can serve these as a side dish, or add them atop a scoop of vanilla ice cream for the perfect summer dessert.

Campfire Cones

Of course we can’t end without dessert! Campfire cones are as simple as they are delicious, and everyone can make them just the way they want them. Essentially you start with a waffle cone and fill it with any variety of ingredients such as chocolate, marshmallow, bananas, raspberries, nuts, and more. Next, you wrap the cone in tinfoil and place it over a heat source like a camp fire or fire pit. After three to five minutes, the chocolate and marshmallow will have melted to create a deliciously gooey dessert you’ll want to try again and again.

Which of these food trends is your favorite? Or do you have another trend to show? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment.

7 Family-Friendly Activities this Spring in Central PA

7 Family-Friendly Activities to Do This Spring in Central PA

Spring in Central Pennsylvania is a beautiful and fun time of year when everyone seems to come back to life and branch out into the community looking for fun, family-friends events to enjoy. Central PA has an ever-growing list of activities, parades and festivals that cater to a wide variety of interests. Here’s a look at 6 of the many family-friends activities to put on your calendar this spring!

 

St. Patrick’s Day Parades – Varied Dates

All across Central PA, St. Patrick’s Day Parades will be taking place over the course of March. This means multiple opportunities for you and the family to head out and experience the fun of this lively Irish holiday. Here is a snap shot of the St. Patrick’s Day Parades scheduled this year in Central PA: Scranton and York on March 11; Lancaster (a Saint Patrick’s Day benefit concert) on March 11; Philadelphia on March 12; Harrisburg on March 18; Stroudsburg on March 19; and Girardville on March 25.

Central PA Comic Con – April 1-2, 2017

Saturday, April 1 through Sunday, April 2, the York Fairgrounds will be transformed into “Central PA Comic Con.” Memorial Hall East will feature 28,000 square feet of fandom fun with meet and greets with some of your favorite comedic stars. This year marks the five year anniversary of the event, and they have plans to make it the best one yet. If your family is a fan of comics, be sure to mark your calendars for this event.

Spring Carlisle Car Show – April 19-23, 2017

From Wednesday, April 19 through Sunday, April 23, the Spring Carlisle Car Show will again take place at the Carlisle Fairgrounds. This is a collector and classic car swap meet, car corral and auction that has been noted as one of the top five automotive swap meets in the world by Fox News. This is a great family event where you can casually explore the 8,100 vending spaces and even slip behind the wheel of some of the vehicles!

Dillsburg Picklefest – May 13, 2017

This small town festival kicks off with a 5k Pickle Chase & then all of the food starts up.  Of course, there are many pickle flavored items to try!  There is a charming arts & craft show, a kids zone, and even a little of history to explore at the Maple Shade Barn.  If you are looking for a relaxed free event, Picklefest has what you are looking for!

Greek Fest of Holy Trinity – May 19-21, 2017

Starting on Friday, May 19 and running through Sunday, May 21, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Camp Hill will again host its ever-popular Greek Fest. What really draws in the crowds in the mouthwatering array of handmade, authentic Greek food. Whether your taste is sweet or savory, you and the whole family will find a treat worth indulging in at the Greek Fest. Better yet, there are an assortment of vendors selling crafts and various other items. Come rain or shine, this is one event not to miss!

Army Heritage Days – May 20-21, 2017

Whether someone in your family is a war-buff, or simply enjoy exploring the open grounds of the U.S. Army Education Center, make it a point to come out to Armed Forces weekend May 20-21, 2017. The grounds feature a timeline living history event that features several hundred reenactors from all eras spread out over the one mile long Army Heritage Trail. Best of all, this is a free event, making it that much more family-friendly!

Arts Fest of Greater Harrisburg – May 27-29, 2017

From Saturday, May 27 through Monday, May 29, the Riverfront Park in downtown Harrisburg will again be transformed into a bustling hub of activity including hundreds of vendors selling arts, crafts and delicious treats. This is a great family event because “kids” of all ages will enjoy the festival setting and all the inspiring works of art created by vendors in PA and beyond.

 

10 Unique New Year Eve Tradition’s in Central Pennsylvania

10 Unique New Year Eve Tradition’s in Central Pennsylvania

Across Central Pennsylvania, towns and cities of all sizes ring in the New Year with quite a variety of celebrations that include a twist on the traditional ball drop. From food items like pickles and bologna to roses and wrenches, each item has its own connection to the city in which it is dropped (or in some cases, raised). Let’s take a look at 10 of these creative New Year’s Eve celebrations that take place across Central Pennsylvania and the meaning behind them!


 

Dillsburg – Pickle Drop

Of course a town named Dillsburg would choose to drop a pickle! The idea is as delicious as it is fun. The full evening of celebration includes vendors, children’s activities, Irish clog dancers, magic show, balloon artist and wintery refreshments. Especially for the children who may not stay up late enough to see the official pickle drop at midnight, a “baby pickle drop” takes place at 7 p.m. The big pickle drop is followed by a grand finale of fireworks!


 

Carlisle – First Night Button

What was once a car drop for the town of “car”lisle, has since been changed to the raising of a button (as of 2013). A large replica of the buttons used for admission to the night’s festivities is raised instead of dropped because the community wanted to raise their spirits for the New Year. What does the button look like? The design changes from year to year! Children can enter a drawing using the year’s theme, and the winning drawing is used on the buttons for admission as well as for the large button that is raised 21 feet in the air at midnight.


Lower Allen Township – Lowering of the Yellow Breeches

Upper and Lower Allen Townships are known for their prime location next to the Yellow Breeches, so it’s only fitting that their New Year’s Eve celebration would involve a nod to this local attraction. The township’s celebration involves a variety of games, activities and refreshments for families and takes place at the Barn in Lower Allen Township Park. At midnight, a pair of five-foot-tall “yellow breeches” are lowered by children attendees.


Mechanicsburg – Wrench Drop

The name does most of the explaining! Mechanicsburg drops a large, lighted wrench in the middle of downtown with many activities taking place throughout the evening.


Harrisburg – Strawberry Drop

Market Square in downtown Harrisburg is most recognized by the building known as “Strawberry Square.” This location is home to offices and retail space and also connects to the Hilton Hotel. Because Strawberry Square is such a central point in downtown Harrisburg, it’s fitting that they choose to drop a strawberry at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. The full celebration includes music, theatrical performances and children’s activities, plus a ton of activity on restaurant row.


Hershey – Raising of the Hershey’s Kiss

What else would the town made famous by chocolate raise on New Year’s Eve other than its signature Hershey Kiss? What’s great about Hershey’s celebration is that it is extremely family friendly with activities beginning as early at 11am that day. Music, games and refreshments make it an enjoyable event for attendees of all ages.


Lebanon – Bologna Drop

Lebanon, a town very well known for its delicious Dutch treat, Bologna, chooses to drop a 12 foot, 250 pound replica on New Year’s Eve. What a sight to see! This fun and amusing celebration is a great way to ring in the New Year. Be sure to come hungry and enjoy the many different treats Lebanon has to offer its guests.


Highspire – Candy Drop

The New Year’s Eve candy drop in Highspire is not only fun, there’s a special meaning behind it too! At midnight, a variety of small candies are dropped from a Knight’s Candy bin and children dash to collect their share. The candy drop is in commemoration of the Knights Candy Store that operated there during the 1950s to 1970s. Counting down to the candy bin tipping over and spilling out candy is exciting for guests of all ages.


York – White Rose Drop

In the town square, the city of York drops a white rose at midnight followed by a large fireworks display. Why the white rose? This symbolizes the War of Roses which were a series of wars for control of the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet. The House of York’s symbol was a white rose.


Lancaster – Lowering of the Red Rose

Similarly to York’s NYE celebration, Lancaster lowers a red rose to symbolize the House of Lancaster which was associated with a red rose throughout the War of Roses. This is such an interesting piece of our history here in Central Pennsylvania (which you can learn more about here). It’s a great tradition that each town honors its heritage, and looks to the future, by celebrating with a special rose to ring in the New Year!

Do you have another unique New Year’s Eve celebration to share? Leave us a comment!

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