The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), along with the BATONA Hiking Club and the Appalachian Mountain Club – Delaware Valley Chapter, invite the public to attend the official designation of Wind Gap, Pennsylvania, as the newest Appalachian Trail (A.T.) Community™. The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19 at the Gap Theater, located at 47 S. Broadway in Wind Gap. The public is invited to attend this free event.
“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is proud to celebrate Wind Gap as an A.T. Community partner in Pennsylvania that is helping to protect and promote the Appalachian Trail,” said Julie Judkins, the ATC’s director of Education and Outreach. “These new partnerships increase local stewardship of public lands, support community initiatives for sustainable economic development and conservation planning and support healthy lifestyles for community citizens.”
Immediately following the designation, the community will dedicate an accompanying youth-led mural, painted over the summer at Café on Broadway in Wind Gap. “On the Appalachian Trail” is the fourth mural in the Slate Belt Heritage Mural series and is the first in Wind Gap. The Heritage Murals are a collaboration of the Slate Belt Community Partnership (SBCP) and Totts Gap Arts Institute’s Heritage Mural Education Program, and the murals are researched, designed and executed by teen artists under the direction of James Gloria, artistic director of Totts Gap Arts Institute (TGAI).
In addition to the mural dedication, Boy Scout Troop 33 of Pen Argyl will provide a color guard and recite the Outdoor Code, and local teen singing group All Two of Us will perform as well. Honored guests and speakers include Beth Critton, chair of the ATC’s Stewardship Council as well as the ATC’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Director Karen Lutz.
“We know that our community’s brightest future lies in preserving and promoting our assets, such as the Appalachian Trail,” said Sharon Davis, manager of the Slate Belt Community Partnership Regional Main Street Program. “We believe people are looking for an authentic experience. What could be more authentic than coming to Wind Gap to see the beautiful view of the Gap in any season, enjoying the friendly service of our small businesses and participating in outdoor, family friendly activities in our parks or on the Appalachian Trail?”
The A.T. has an important place in the Wind Gap community. Two Pen Argyl School District teachers have completed the ATC’s Trail to Every Classroom professional development program, which encourages participants to form a respect for the Trail while engaging with local communities. Now, Wind Gap will continue its involvement with the Trail through its official designation as an A.T. Community™.
“By educating our young people on the value of this natural resource, we hope to develop a lifelong commitment to sustaining the Appalachian Trail for future generations and to the long term viability of the community,” said George Hinton, president of Wind Gap Borough Council. “The Appalachian Trail is an economic driver.”
The A.T. Community™ program was created by the ATC to recognize communities that promote and care for the A.T. Working with a growing network of Trailside community partners, the program supports communities that play a role in advocating the A.T. as a significant local and national asset and as an international icon. The program assists communities by generating awareness and stimulating outdoor recreation while preserving and protecting the A.T.
For more information about the A.T. Community™ program, visit www.appalachiantrail.org/atcommunity.
About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. A unit of the National Park System, the A.T. ranges from Maine to Georgia and is approximately 2,190 miles in length. It is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. The mission of the ATC is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. For more information, please visit www.appalachiantrail.org.