The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

May 3, 2013

Take a stroll through Sunbury

By Cindy Herman
For The Daily Item

— SUNBURY — What you notice about Sunbury is how much it is loved. Not a gushing, “I love Sunbury!” kind of love. More the steely resolve of the Prodigal Son’s father. Sunbury residents know what their town was and what it will be again.

“There’s always someone trying to better it,” said Bill Moyer of Moyer Electronics, a 60-year-old Sunbury business. “I just think it’s cool the way certain people have tried to rebuild. It’s encouraging. They don’t spend a lot of time anguishing over what was. They look to what it could be.”

He pointed out renovations at the Hotel Edison, the Packer House, the Market House, and the former Aldine Hotel, as well as Sunbury’s softball and baseball fields and the ice rink and said, “I can’t see the town doing anything but getting nicer.”

Tim Kinsey, manager of Runner’s Roost Bike and Sport, came to Sunbury from New England in 1972 and never dreamed he’d stay. But when he recently found himself discussing the city with visitors from Texas, one of them said, “It sounds like you like it here.” And Kinsey realized, he does.

“I always tell people Sunbury is making great strides,” he said, mentioning a new street-sweeping machine, volunteers mulching flowers, and the new riverfront walkway. “I’m not saying Sunbury’s the jewel of the Susquehanna yet, but they’re trying.”

“There’s always an affinity for the place you grew up in,” said David Moyer, Jr., owner of Benjamin T. Moyer, Inc., furniture store. Even the smell of the former Celotex factory brought nostalgic memories of playing baseball in the nearby field, he said with a smile. He and three other families started a new church and named it Sunbury City Church because, he said, “I’m not going to move out of this city.”

As he talked about seeing people fix up their properties or greet each other by name, a customer walked past as if on cue and said, “Hi, Dave. Saw your wife. Blew the horn.”

Another Sunbury native, Adam Purdy of Purdy Insurance Agency, Inc., appreciates the convenience of living close to Weis Markets, the YMCA, and playgrounds.

“I can walk down the street to the Edison to have a nice meal,” he said. “We take our kids to Hurr’s for ice cream. I’ve had lunches in the park with my wife and kids.”

Two businesses recently relocated to Market Street, filling formerly vacant buildings.

“We just wanted to kick it up a notch in Sunbury,” said Rose Bennnick, owner of Something Special Flower Shop, which also offers an amazing selection of homemade candies and gift items, many made locally. “People that come in absolutely love it.”

Brenda Reichenbach grew up in Sunbury and recently took over her uncle’s business, Tony’s Tailor Shop, partly to keep it from leaving town. She’s moving it around the corner to Market Street, next to Something Special Flower Shop and Jasmine-Aire Boutique.

“I’d like to see Sunbury turn around to the way it was before, when I was younger. It was so busy,” she said. Pointing out the number of volunteers of all ages, she added, “I think it’s wonderful that people believe in this town.”

One example of that: the annual Halloween parade.

“I looked up the street and I think the whole town came out,” said David Moyer. “It looked like a New York ticker tape parade.”

“I enjoy (Sunbury) because I have a lot of family and friends here,” said Lou Scheller, co-owner of the Sunbury Sub Shop.

“I just like the small-town atmosphere,” said Cheryl Delsite, administrative assistant for the City of Sunbury. She mentioned swimming, T-ball, and ice skating, local churches, and being able to walk or bike to the library and the YMCA. “I can’t imagine being anywhere else right now.”

Steve Dagle, owner of John Dagle Jewlers, appreciates Sunbury’s history and its proximity to major cities. Still, he pointed out something only Sunbury has.

“I think the place that attracts the most activity per square foot for people who come back to Sunbury is the Squeeze-In,” he said with a smile. “It’s just hard to come up with that medley of flavors in that particular place.”

That local support of city business is key, said Bill Moyer. “With that small-town attitude, (Sunburians) still believe in supporting one another.”

“I am involved in the community a lot, and that’s one of the things that impresses me about Sunbury,” said Meghan Beck, partner at the Hotel Edison and Sunbury Market House, “how much time they give to help others.”

“We believe Sunbury’s future is in its past, and if you let the past disappear, we don’t really have a future,” said Lori Garman, owner of the Packer House, which has been lovingly restored as an event center. “We want to make (Sunbury) better so that our children can come back and make it their home.”