Monday, September 14, 2009

You say knish, I say pretzel...

Raise your hand if you know what I"m talking about. If you have a family that includes members of color, you don't just jump in your car and drive to small towns in Red States without making sure that folks in those parts are comfortable with colored people. At least I don't.

So of course, when some friends told us we had to take our children to this quaint little amusement park in Lancaster, PA called Dutch Wonderland, the first thing I did was go to the website to see if they included children of color in their promotional materials. And they did. In fact, they showed quite a nice variety of families of color on the site, making me feel AOK about taking my mixie kids there.

Dutch Wonderland sits in the heart of Lancaster County, which is home to many Amish communities and throngs of Pennsylvania Dutch/Germans. I believe I read that it is also home to the soft pretzel. I've also heard that while Lancaster City has a sizable Black and Hispanic population, outside of the city it's pretty White and hostile to "outsiders." So I wasn't sure what to expect at this Wonderland. Well, before we even parked our car I could feel my meltingpot sensors rev up, as we parked between a Hispanic family on our left and an Indian family on our right.

Once we were in the park, I was truly astounded by the number of not just African-American families, but Hasidic Jews, Mennonites, and South East Asian families as well. I heard Spanish being spoken, as well as Yiddish. And everyone seemed interested in only one thing, having fun with their kids. It was heartwarming but I couldn't help but wonder what was the draw for such a diverse crowd. I mean the park was cute, but it wasn't all that.

So of course I did some investigating. Apparently the reason Hasidic families are drawn to Dutch Wonderland, is because they have a big ol' Kosher market and restaurant in the middle of the park. That's gotta make you feel welcome and cuts down on what you have to pack in your picnic basket. Or maybe it's the kinship with the Amish that they feel.

But it can't just be about the food can it? I mean we went because it was a lot closer and cheaper than Disneyland. Had I known it was going to be such a hotbed of diversity, I might have been inclined to check it out sooner. Anybody else ever heard of Dutch Wonderland? Can you think of how an amusement park in the middle of Amish country got such a colorful following? Maybe I'm making too much out of nothing. But even if I am, I'm still happy that the place exists. It just makes my American meltingpot feel that much warmer.


Dee said...

This is news to me. I've never heard of Dutch Wonderland. Where is it?

Have you heard of Hershey Park in Hershey, Pennsylvania? I've only been there once, and that was years ago.

LT said...


Believe it or not, Hershey Park and Dutch Wonderland are owned by the same company. Small little world of happy places in Pennsylvania.

Anonymous said...


Our family (white folks) have gone each year for about 6-7 years. I assert that the diversity is a function of economics. Dutch Wonderland is an inexpensive alternative to Disney. For those kids under 10, Dutch Wonderland is as good as Disney. Trying to save a buck knows no color.