The Homeland Center parking lot was overflowing, not with cars, but with happy children and their families for the 2017 Summertime Fair. Summer storms held off until the end of the day, and kids enjoyed everything from hot dogs to snow cones and virtual reality games to pony rides.
The Homeland Center Summertime Fair is a highly anticipated annual tradition. Administration, staff, and Board of Managers members collaborate to create a welcoming event that convenes Homeland residents and neighborhood families for a day of fun.
The 2017 version featured some old favorites and new events. Perennially popular pony rides were back, while across the way, kids lined up for a new event – a tent where fairgoers donned virtual reality headsets.
Homeland residents, in the meantime, sat under a giant tent to enjoy lunch while they watched children playing carnival games like ring toss. On this day, those late storms drove the bingo game, a fair highlight, into the Homeland Main Dining Room.
Another annual highlight is the basket raffle, with creative themes, dreamed up by Board of Managers members, ranging from an Italian feast to a cat lover’s collection. As usual, the most popular baskets were those featuring $50 worth of Lottery tickets, and one with a Kindle reader and accessories.
Homeland Board of Managers member Kelly Lick created all the baskets in the pleasing array, but this year’s basket of camping supplies gathered by Board of Managers members Gail Holland and Janet Young -- complete with chairs, sleeping bags, and all the fixings needed for s’mores -- almost had her stumped.
“This one is just phenomenal,” Lick said. “It’s unbelievable. They made assembling it a rather challenging time for me.” Her solution: A big plastic tub substituted as a basket, and Lick contained it in yards of plastic wrap secured with artfully concealed tape.
At the yard sale tents, fairgoers checked out shoes, purses, household items, and many other quality goods. In the jewelry section, Homeland resident Marie Smith looked through a basket of earrings.
“There are so many pretty ones in there,” she said. “We could be here all day looking all day, couldn’t we?”
Smith has lived at Homeland for four years. “It’s nice,” she said. “It’s like home.”
Back on the fairground, 4-year-old Anai’ja Clark had her face painted like a cat. “It’s great!” she said about the fair. She even rode the big horse, not the little pony. Anai’ja’s mom, Kristian Mahone, was there because her aunt works at Homeland. She liked “everything” about the fair, she said.
“It’s something for the kids to do,” she said. “It makes people happy.”
Also getting their faces painted were brothers Caden and Cash, sons of Homeland speech pathologist Jessica Cunningham. Since starting work at Homeland in February 2017, she said she loves it.
“I like the facility and the residents and working as a team,” she said. The fair offered the chance to bring her sons to her workplace for some fun, she said. “It’s very enjoyable. The kids love it.”
Jahmelas Bryan brought 23 students from his Lotus Multicultural Learning Center in Swatara Township. All were “having a ball,” he said. “It’s summertime, and they love riding the bus. Any type of field trip is cool. They get cotton candy for free, and ices for free. They’re lining up for the ices very quickly.”
Those snow cones came in peanut butter, grape, orange, blueberry, cherry, and lime flavors. Handing them out were some of the many Homeland staffers dressed in blue “Event Staff” T-shirts and, altogether, had a memorable time.
“We’re having fun getting the residents and kids together,” said CNA Sierra Tenant. “The residents love it. The kids love it. And we have a fun day at work.”