Lancaster streets to bloom with 300 LEADS’ baskets


Seeks adopters for 150 flower baskets

LANCASTER, Pa. – As LEADS prepares to hang nearly 300 flower baskets from lampposts throughout the business district in Lancaster on May 17, the nonprofit still seeks to adopt 150baskets of hope.


Your $85 gift will adopt a flower basket, providing you an opportunity to celebrate a friend or loved one, or honor Mother’s Day, Dad’s Day or your pup’s birthday. Personalized tags, naming you or your honoree will be hung from each basket. You will receive a note letting you know the location of your basket.

It’s been difficult to see our streets empty and many well-loved businesses closing, says Joel Henry, LEADS president. Our town that we love so much just isnt the same.

That is why this year’s Adopt-A-Basket program means so much to the city of 65,000 residents.

While experiencing this has been difficult, we are also encouraged as we look around and observe people stepping up, Henry says. We are witnessing our community members helping one another in so many ways. All of this gives us hope.

This year the group has extended its reach with 50 additional flower baskets on newly installed lampposts along West King Street from Prince to Mulberry streets. The baskets are adopted by businesses and members of the community for $85, which includes daily watering and care for six months. Anyone interested can adopt-a-basket at

The beautification effort, a project of LEADS (Lancaster’s Economic Action for Downtown’s Success) since 1999, advances the group’s mission to make the city a more attractive place to visit, shop and live.

LEADS is an all-volunteer group that also provides all city holiday decorations – including the Penn Square Christmas tree. Then, as now, LEADS is a completely volunteer organizations that operates solely from donations.

The baskets are special this year, because I believe that they represent hope,says Henry, a Lancaster resident. The flowers are always a sign of spring and a community that comes together to provide them. This year, the flowers will also be a sign that life is getting back to normal.

Hamilton Watch Co. is LEADS’ 11th annual ornament



Proceeds help make Downtown Lancaster streets sparkle during the holidays

LEADS Ornament 2018 High Res

LANCASTER, Pa. – Since 1875, the one-time Hamilton Watch Co. factory has stood the test of time along Columbia Avenue. Today the elaborate buildings are home to residents, a school and other businesses. And to commemorate its place in history, the iconic structure has been chosen as the 11th Lancaster Landmark Ornament, an annual fundraiser for LEADS, the all-volunteer group that provides all city holiday decorations – including the Penn Square Christmas tree – and summertime hanging flower baskets in downtown Lancaster.

LEADS (Lancaster’s Economic Action for Downtown’s Success) selected the 143-year-old Hamilton Watch complex as this year’s honored landmark. Previous years included Central Market, Fulton Theatre, Watt & Shand, J.P. McCaskey High School, Lancaster Train Station, among others.


The three-dimensional ornaments are renditions of structures that have played a meaningful role in Lancaster’s historic and cultural life, crafted of solid brass plated in 24-karat gold.

The first phase of the Hamilton Watch complex, located on the west end of Lancaster City, was designed by architect Clarence Luther Stiles and was completed in 1875. It was the Hamilton Watch Co.’s headquarters from the company’s founding in 1892 until 1980. Twin 90-foot clock towers — the second added in 1916 — are the most dominant feature of the building. Each tower is topped with a mansard roof trimmed with copper and a clock with four faces. The four-story complex was built with brick and is shaped roughly like an ”E” with the main portion of building situated east-west, paralleling Columbia Avenue, and three wings extend north. An unconnected, four-story, Art Deco-style office building stands south of the main building located between the two clock towers. The westernmost wing of the complex was designed in a ”restrained” International style. The complex was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The main building, designed in Second Empire style, was converted into luxury apartments and condominiums between 1983 and 2000.

”We have been providing every wreath, bow, garland and twinkling light for downtown’s streets since 2006,” said Marty Hulse, board president. ”The landmark ornament has become a popular and successful fundraiser to help make downtown streets festive for the holidays.”

The three-dimensional ornaments are renditions of structures that have played a meaningful role in Lancaster’s historic and cultural life, crafted of solid brass plated in 24-karat gold, he said. The ornament can be used as a tree or window ornament or displayed in the gold foil box it comes in along with a card telling its history.

Since 2012, LEADS has invested more than $40,000 to improve the city’s holiday decorations, Hulse said. Proceeds from the ornament go toward paying for that investment, he said.

Ornaments can be purchased at Lancaster Galleries, 34 N. Water St.; BUiLDiNG CHARACTER, 342 N. Queen St., rear warehouses; Festoon at the Firehouse, 202 N. Duke St.; the Turkey Lady at Central Market; and the city Visitors Center on Penn Square. The ornaments also are available at Lancaster Central Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 1, 8 and 15. Each ornament is $20 and can be ordered online at or by calling Building Character at 717-394-7201 to purchase with a major credit card. Shipping is $4.95 for the first ornament and $.95 for each additional ornament.

LEADS began in 2000 when a group of volunteers created a grassroots effort to beautify downtown Lancaster. The goal has always been: make the city a more attractive place to visit, shop and live. Then, as now, LEADS is a completely volunteer organizations that operates solely from donations.


Literary Festival in Downtown Lancaster To Benefit Church World Services

Harry Potter-Themed Event Planned Saturday, May 6

LANCASTER, PA — Wizards and book-lovers will unite at the second annual Literary Festival during Lancaster Spring ArtWalk. And organizers would like you to get dressed in your best Harry Potter character costumes for this year’s family friendly party that benefits Church World Services.

POTTERPOSTERThe free event, which includes light refreshments, Harry Potter-themed games, live music, circus acts, and various activities, will be held in the parking lot courtyard and Warehouse D at the Candy Factory at the rear of 324 N. Queen St., Lancaster from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 6. The festival is a collaboration between Building Character and The Candy Factory.

Fair-goers are asked to bring a donation of books for CSW’s refugee resettlement programs.

Lancaster Circus School

The Circus School of Lancaster is just one of many acts and activities at the Saturday, May 6 event

Live music will be provided by local bands, Vin Fischer, Talk Alliance and Hilltop Gamblers. Henna tattoos and face painting (of various complexities and pricing) will be provided by Alicia Lyter, as well as Harry Potter-themed caricatures by Cory Lally. Local collage artist, Emily Truman, will have a community collage project for all to partake in. Emma Cate will be doing $6 tarot readings, and The Circus School of Lancaster will be dazzling the crowd with humor and entertainment. Homemade butterbeer will be available for purchase as well.


WHAT: Harry Potter Literary Festival
WHEN: Saturday, May 6
TIME: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
WHERE: Parking lot courtyard area to rear of 342 N. Queen St., Lancaster
COST: Free; book donations accepted
BENEFITS: Bring a book to donate to Church World Services

Strolling the 300 Block sips by bits

Monthly summer event raising funds for local nonprofits

LANCASTER, Pa. — The 300 Block of North Queen Street for years has been a hub of commerce and community. And now the venerable shopping and dining district can add generosity to that reputation.

Sips Bits June 17, 2016 MAP _ High ResThe Sips & Bits Stroll, the brainchild of Karin Meacham, owner of Art & Glassworks, is in its second month of a summerlong “300 Block Cares” event to raise funds for local non-profits.  The event pairs up local independent retail shops with local purveyors of all things yummy and tasty.

During the first installment of Sips & Bits Stroll in May, more than $800 was raised through ticket sales, said Ashley Mudge, a co-organizer.

Tickets are $10 per person in advance; $12 per person the day of the event. All proceeds benefit Music for Everyone, which organizes the monthly Music Friday program and raises funds for instruments in schools, and the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsman, which has been supporting artisans for more than 70 years and is part of the 300 Block, Mudge said. Tasters can start at any participating shop, and get a map of all the stops when tickets are picked up at Because I Like U, 307 N. Queen St., prior to the start of the stroll. Purchase tickets at participating stops or at (Note: All alcoholic beverages served are complimentary and not part of the ticket price.)


Waltz Vineyards will offer complimentary wine at the June 17 event.

Sips & Bits Stroll participants also get exclusive discounts and may enter a raffle at each event stop, Mudge said. “This is our merchants’ way of saying thank you for helping us help two deserving community non-profits,” she said.


The monthly event will be held through September on the third Friday of the month. “It’s a great night out in Downtown Lancaster and a great way to give back to the community,” Mudge said.

The 14 stops on the June 17 event include:

Additional details can be found at