With the Central PA 4th Fest just behind us and the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts approaching, we are again reminded of the greatness of our region and its people despite the ongoing cloud of controversy.
It feels as if everything that happens these days in and around Centre County is seen through the prism of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
The national media seem hell-bent on portraying residents of our region as either pedophile enablers or indifferent to the welfare of their children, as too blinded by their loyalty to Penn State to see the problems that exist in our midst.
The truth is, the vast majority of those living, working and studying here are appalled by the events that led to Sanduskys conviction June 22 on 45 counts of child sex abuse and the allegations that several top university officials worked together to hide the excoachs behavior.
Many in Centre County have been working for years to protect our most vulnerable residents from harm, and those efforts have increased in their scope and intensity.
We would not seek to diminish the horrific nature of the crimes for which Sandusky has been convicted. And we pray that his victims and their families find peace and justice.
But we remind residents and hope outsiders realize that our region is home to many fine, caring people and numerous worthwhile events.
We were pleased that thousands came together Wednesday for 4th Fest, celebrating Independence Day and sharing a fun day with friends.
The fireworks show was well-received, as usual. And people filled every open space within viewing distance of Beaver Stadium to enjoy the display set to music.
Central PA 4th Fest featured for the first time a parade through State College. Local heroes were honored for their contributions to the region and the country.
Among them was Dave Effinger, a veteran who served in Afghanistan. Effinger told reporter Chris Rosenblum that he was honored to be part of the events to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the nation and to reflect on the freedoms we enjoy.
It just reminds me what a great nation this United States of America actually is, he said.
That same day, the borough of Osceola Mills was a gathering place for families and friends who enjoyed a parade as part of a traditional community celebration that dates back nearly a century. Folks gathered on porches and along the streets, with children waving flags and sparklers, as firetrucks and local groups passed by.
It a wholesome fun time for the whole community, Philipsburg resident Todd Jeffries said.
The upcoming week will bring back three local jewels: Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in downtown State College and on the Penn State campus, the Peoples Choice Festival of Pennsylvania Arts and Crafts in Boalsburg, and Philipsburg Heritage Days.
All three events bring tourists to our region to experience the beauty and vibrancy of Centre County.
Penn State graduate Jon Rounds, a member of the popular local band Cartoon, said he loves the atmosphere that exists here.
Its still this beautiful, wonderful place where things like the Arts Fest happen, he said. Its like Disneyland for musicians in a way.
In a recent interview with the CDT, executive director Rick Bryant extolled the economic and cultural impact of Arts Fest.
Its very gratifying, Bryant said. We bring a lot of great programming, and Im very proud of that.
The summer will also bring such great events as the Grange Fair and the Bellefonte Arts and Crafts show.
Then well head back to school, watching football and thinking about winter activities.
Yes, our region has endured the pain and publicity of the Sandusky trial. Further bad news awaits as another trial looms, along with the anticipated Freeh report on the universitys reaction to the Sandusky situation.
While we must recognize the magnitude of those developments, we cant allow them to fully define our region, which still has much good to offer.