Summer solstice bubbles with enthusiasm at Berks County Heritage Center

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Massive bubbles made summer pop into Berks when the Berks County Parks and Recreation Department held a summer solstice celebration Wednesday.

The event at the Berks County Heritage Center featured music, crafts, hiking and more, but the star of the show was Grandpop Bubbles, a man with huge handmade bubble wands that created bubbles often bigger than the children blowing them.

According to Cathy Wegener, the recreation and cultural programs manager at the department, only 100 to 200 people were originally expected to show up.

“Our event started out as something small and grew into something bigger,” parks department employee Becky Hughes said. Before the event began, based on a post on Grandpop Bubbles’ Facebook page, more than 600 people indicated they planned to attend.Just half an hour after the fun started, the center’s parking lot was filled, as was the field next to it. Vehicles lined Red Bridge Road back to Bernville Road, and park rangers came out to direct traffic.

Jenny Jarolin was among those who heard about the bubble-filled event in Bern Township through Facebook.

“It’s the first day of summer,” said Jarolin, whose daughter, Sadie, didn’t think she had ever seen bubbles as big as the ones Grandpop Bubbles was making. “We wanted to do something that was fun and outside.”

While the bubbles may have attracted the crowd, they certainly weren’t the evening’s only source of entertainment. “Porcupine Pat” McKinney from the Schuylkill Conservation District led a yoga hike, and parks department volunteer Gary Shugar led two walks to the Deppen Cemetery, educating attendees on the history of the Union Canal along the way.

No matter their reasons, members of the parks department were happy to see people getting outside for the beginning of the season.“I’m hoping it’ll get people excited about what’s here,” Hughes said. “We have lots of programs.”

The evening’s activities were accompanied by musical group Drew and the Blue, and people of all ages roasted marshmallows and hot dogs over a fire throughout the night.

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