by Jennifer Noel, photography by Gregory Blank
A fireman’s carnival, parades, home-style cooking at local restaurants, a neighborhood bakery – all the nuances that define a small town dot the rolling hills of Littlestown, Pennsylvania. With just over 4,000 residents and roughly 1.5 square miles in size, Littlestown is situated just miles from Hanover, brimming with nostalgic charm.
Most known for the Hanover Shoe Farms that skirt the town’s border, the square and surrounding neighborhoods also weave together a tight-knit community.
“This town has a community-based atmosphere,” commented Chief of Police and Borough Manager, Charles Kellar. “It’s safe and doesn’t have the problems big cities might.”
Kellar was formerly the Police Chief in Harrisburg and has appreciated the change of pace.
Driving down King Street toward the square, it is not uncommon to witness a wave from the volunteer firefighters sitting outside of Alpha Fire Company #1 to passersby; after all, Littlestown is a community based on neighborhood relationships.
Making a Splash
As the final school bells ring for the summer, students are looking to trade in their textbooks and lunch cards for beach towels and pool passes. The Littlestown Community pool has been a staple in the area for over 40 years.
Managed by the Littlestown Borough, families have the opportunity to purchase a season pass or pay per visit. All residents of Littlestown Area School District receive a discounted regular rate for a season pass; a family of four can enjoy the pool every day during the season for $150.
The pool has been renovated in recent years to include slides and a children’s area.
“The pool gives kids an opportunity to play together,” remarked Chief Kellar. “Families can take advantage of a form of entertainment that’s affordable and close. It’s hard to duplicate that in other ways.”
The Littlestown Community Park is situated near the pool and offers pavilions for family picnics, a playground and tennis courts: all opportunities for residents and visitors to enjoy a bit of Littlestown’s dedication to creating a welcoming neighborhood.
Fresh Spaces, Familiar Faces
While part of the charm of Littlestown is that the hamlet holds tight in a changing world, a sweet addition to the area has been much appreciated.
Gateau Monique is a unique bakery, which opened its doors in Littlestown in late 2014. Since then, owner and pastry chef, Monique Washirapunya, has been wowing residents with sticky buns, scones, pastries, and of course, cakes.
“I had been making cakes out of my house for a few years. The business was really growing and getting too much for my home kitchen. For years, I looked at spots in Gettysburg and nothing worked out,” explained Washirapunya. “One day, I was driving through my town, Littlestown, and thought, why am I not embracing my town. I should look for a space here—a week later I looked at the shop and signed a lease.”
Washirapunya, who has been a resident of Littlestown for 10 years, explained that beyond the benefits of being a business owner, the town is also a “great place to raise a family, get connected and be part of a community.”
Because the bakery is located in Littlestown, Washirapunya has reaped the benefits of the surrounding agricultural community, including eggs from French Hens raised on a local farm just for the bakery. Raw milk from Apple Valley Creamery, fresh produce, and flowers all give the pastries, and the shop itself, local flavor.
Washirapunya feels “blessed” with these opportunities.
“People here know each other, talk to each other about anything and everything. I can go to the bank, post office, grocery store, local gas station and say hello to familiar faces,” added Washirapunya.
Like many residents, Washirapunya also appreciates the town’s proximity to destinations such as Washington D.C., Baltimore, Harrisburg, and Frederick.
“The Littlestown community is a great combination of old and new. So many families have been here for generations, but there are also many new families, commuters, and couples who are retiring here,” said Washirapunya.
Preserving the Past
Settled even before Gettysburg, Littlestown celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2015. While special events such as a Founder’s Parade and community picnic were held to commemorate the momentous occasion, a much anticipated event each August was also part of the festivities: Good Ole Days.
Good Ole Days, a flea market and entertainment venue, has been a mainstay in Littlestown for 42 years. The event is a community effort sponsored by the Littlestown Historical Society, in junction with the Borough, Alpha Fire Company #1, Littlestown Jaycees, Littlestown Lions Club, and the local YMCA.
“This is a chance for the Littlestown community to come together every year, to enjoy the days when life was simpler, meet up with friends and family they haven’t seen in a while, learn about the history of Littlestown, and most importantly, just enjoy the celebration,” explained Sharon Hedges, who is in charge of advertising for Good Ole Days.
A parade, sponsored by the Littlestown Jaycees and held the Thursday before the main event, rolls through town with antique cars, antique trucks, antique tractors, and floats, and ushers in the outdoor market, which is held in Crouse Park each year.
Visitors can expect all the food and hand-crafted, specialty items synonymous with a vendor market like this one. This year over 50 vendors will be on site.
Families can enjoy hayrides, demonstrators, including cobblers and old-time brew makers, festival food, and live music throughout the day.
“My favorite part is always the parade. My brother lives on E. King Street and we sit in his yard and watch the floats, old cars and trucks, old tractors and floats go by while enjoying the company of my family,” added Hedges.
The surrounding community also uses the day as an opportunity to hold yard sales and attract buyers from the park.
This yearly event is just one more way that residents and visitors alike can enjoy the quintessential South-Central Pennsylvania experience.