Reunions and Carousels

P1000686A Family Reunion held in the same place for 100 years should be celebrated.  My husband’s family, the Swanks, have met at the Ralpho Township Park  (or someplace nearby) in Elysburg, PA since 1914, give or take a few years during World War II.  Two cousins, Allen and Percy Swank (originally spelled Schwenck),  began the tradition, and this July over 130 souls attended the noon potluck/barbeque, epic picture-taking and 5 pm supper.  My husband and his three brothers are directly related to Allen Swank and have been attending reunions for at least 50 years.  ( There were T-shirts, many photos and, for families with kids, an afternoon trip to Knoebels Groves, a nearby amusement park.

One of the smallest Swanks
One of the smallest Swanks


Knoebels Grove is a special place. First of all, the name is never used with an apostrophe. It’s a family name, and it’s tradition. Set in a heavily wooded area around Roaring Branch Creek, the park opened in 1926.  The Grand Carousel (my favorite ride) replaced an earlier, smaller model, and is from Riverview Park in Rahway, NJ.  It was built by Kremers in 1913, and is one of the few which still offers a brass ring.  Outside horse riders vie for large rings, which are hand-fed into a arm-like contraption that falls into place when a bell rings about half-way through the ride. Grabbing the single brass ring, not one of the many steel rings that come sliding down the arm yields a free ride.

Catch the Ring
Catch the Ring

Oh, an important fact–you only pay for the rides you want, there is no overall admission fee at Knoebels.   You can walk around for free. Try that at The Mouse. (Florida slang, you can figure it out)

My horse
My horse

We rode the carousel, and enjoyed the shady ambiance of the park.  There are about 60 rides, a beautiful pool (called the Crystal Pool) and multitudinous picnic pavilions. For wooden coaster riders, the park is a mecca.  No alcohol is allowed, and if you eat in the restaurant you might choose chicken and waffles for Sunday dinner.

Chicken and waffles, Pennsylvania style
Chicken and waffles, Pennsylvania style

Knobels is a throw back.  It’s rumored that Malcolm Forbes took Elizabeth Taylor to Elysburg once–on his Harley. We drove a rental car, but it was well worth the ride.

Carousel canopy
Carousel canopy
Carousel canopy
More Carousel canopy

Stay tuned, we shall speak of still other things…we haven’t even crossed the boarder into the Empire State.



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Retired journalist, writer, editor and teacher. Our lives were lived in the Washington DC area, but I was born in upstate New York. Love nature, birding and reading. Volunteer at Ding Darling NWR . Proud mom of two, married to a wildlife photographer.

2 thoughts on “Reunions and Carousels”

  1. Our family goes every year. Love the chicken and waffles. I want to try the new ride rolling thunder.
    I finnaly got the brass ring when I was 60. 🙂
    Ron Brown

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