BY TOM KNAPP, Staff Writer
FREDERICKSBURG, Lebanon County -- There wasn't a trace of mud or manure marring the polished black of his shoes.
Otherwise, Levi K. Stoltzfus -- or Lebanon Levi, star of the "reality" television series "Amish Mafia" -- looked the part during a fundraising event Sunday afternoon at Matthews Public Library in Fredericksburg, Lebanon County.
He arrived fashionably late -- not by horse and buggy, as some might expect, but in a sleek black Cadillac CTS -- and strode into the library in black broadcloth pants and jacket, a rumpled white shirt with two buttons open and, of course, the black broad-brimmed hat commonly associated with the local Plain community.
The event -- possibly Levi's first public appearance since "Amish Mafia" made him a runaway media celebrity -- was a coup for the little library in northern Lebanon County.
Library director Sheila Redcay winked mysteriously when asked how she brought the rising TV star to Fredericksburg.
"Nobody gets to Levi except through Alvin," she said, referring to Levi's series sidekick. "That's all I'm saying."
She smiled and said nothing when asked if Levi -- who, although born in Lancaster County, was raised in the Lebanon area -- has a lot of overdue book fines to make good. However, Redcay said the event raised more than $3,000 for the library. "That's a testament to his generosity," she said.
Levi seemed to enjoy the attention, smiling broadly and chuckling often, shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries in Pennsylvania Dutch with those who know the lingo.
He didn't take questions from the media, but he did look over and smile when asked if he was having fun.
"Oh yeah," he said. "It's great."
He also didn't carry an assault rifle or a baseball bat -- or any of the weapons wielded by the Amish enforcer on TV -- but smiled happily when one man leaned in and said Levi's mother made the best cookies around.
A southpaw, he signed pretty much anything put in front of him, which included event tickets, a book on hex signs, a custom-made mini-scythe and a couple of "Team Levi" T-shirts, which were being worn by a couple of very happy young women at the time.
Tickets for the event cost $10 apiece. Photos of Levi, which he signed inside the library, were $5, and bumper stickers were $2. All proceeds went to the library.
Some people gathered on nearby street corners, hoping for a glimpse of the star as he arrived.
Levi's safety was secured by about 10 members of the Leathernecks, a local motorcycle club, who escorted him into the library, kept the lines moving smoothly and generally looked menacing just in case anyone got out of hand.
The crowd inside numbered more than 300 people, most of whom waited good-naturedly for their chance to shake Levi's hand, get his autograph and pose for a picture with him.
Unlike most local Amish, Levi -- who was raised in the community but was never baptized into the church -- was not at all shy in front of a camera.
There were folks from as far away as Florida and Oregon in the crowd, although they admitted they didn't come to Pennsylvania just to see Levi.
Shaunda Yarnell, who drove up from Lancaster, was hoping for more than an autograph.
"I asked him to go on a date with me," she said after making her way through the line, posing for photos and exchanging smooches with the star.
"I gave him my name and phone number," she added. "I asked him, 'Why are you laughing?' This is serious.' "
She doesn't really expect a call, although Yarnell is keeping her fingers crossed.
"I think he's a very sweet person," she said. "He's one way on the show, but I want to get to know him and see exactly who he is."
Yarnell said Esther and Barb, two potential romantic interests for Levi on the show, "are no competition for me."
"I think he needs someone real in his life -- someone who doesn't have motives," she said.
Everett Eby of New Holland also waited in line for a chance to talk to Levi -- and, he admitted, he did have a motive.
"My girlfriend works at the New Holland library, and she gave me a choice -- come up here or help her daughter move," he says. "This seemed easier."
Eby says he watches the show sometimes -- "until I fall asleep" -- and he's enjoyed what he's seen.
He passed along his girlfriend's contact information, which Levi dutifully tucked in his jacket before greeting the next person in line.
Natalie Fried, creative director for the library, said she was a "little star-struck" when she met Levi in February, in preparation for Sunday's event.
"He's really, really nice," she said. "I was surprised how kind he was."
The Discovery Channel, which airs "Amish Mafia," had a camera crew at the library, taking footage for possible use in a future episode.
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