According to Terri Dennison, Executive Director of the PA Route 6 Alliance and a member of the Galeton Dark Sky Committee, the town can use its unique position as a gateway to attract more visitors and help the local economy. Dennison explained that to build on the concept of a gateway destination, the whole town must “buy-in” to specialness and embrace the Dark Skies.
Dennison told a group of 25 residents and business people gathered at the Brick House Café that the Dark Sky Committee has been developing a program to help residents understand the significance of the dark skies while also providing training to the front line employees at Galeton’s various businesses. The same presentation was made to the Galeton Borough Council that evening.
According to DCNR from October 2015 to September 2016, over 60,000 people visited Cherry Springs State Park with 56,000 specifically coming for star gazing. One-third of the visitors were non-astronomers and a large part of the group is between the ages of 18 and 25. This group, according to Dennison, often comes unprepared and needs advise on what to expect, how to get there, and what to bring. All services that the new campaign is planning to address.
The Dark Sky Orientation Program includes Dark Sky kits which will be given to every school child in May, a new website and promotional video, training sessions for businesses and a banner and signage program.
John Hartman, owner of North Central Tours, explained his new bus service that will provide transportation and tours to Cherry Springs and other attractions.
Lori Copp, Executive Director of the Tioga Visitors Bureau, presented how both Potter and Tioga County are being marketed to visitors under the campaign of “Infinite Skies by Night, Boundless Activities by Day”. Copp presented an ad that appears in the Happy Traveler, the state’s official visitor guide, as well as other regional and national magazines.
Maxine Harrison of the Dark Sky Fund announced that Cherry Springs will be honored by the PA Wilds as a “Special Place” during their awards program later in the month.
The attendees discussed other possible business ventures that could help support the Dark Sky destination. Future meetings of GDC will continue to pursue the designation. GDC meets on the third Wednesday of the month at 7:30am at the Brick House Café. Visit the GDC website at: www.galetondevelopment.com or on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/GaletonDC/.