First hugs at Lancashire Hall

Kanwal Mangat, left, of Manheim Township, hugs her father, Gurcharan Deol, 92, during their firts in-person visit in nearly a year, Friday, March 26, 2021. Lancashire Hall allowed residents to visit with their family members in-person for the first time in about a year. Lancashire Hall has about 84% of its residents vaccinated, which was optional.

THE ISSUE: It’s Monday, the day we take a few moments to highlight the good news in Lancaster County. Some of these items are welcome developments on the economic front or for neighborhoods across the county. Others are local stories of achievement, perseverance, compassion and creativity that represent welcome points of light in a still-difficult time. All of this news deserves a brighter spotlight.

For this week’s installment of Good Things, we have a science fair champion, Godzilla on the big screen, pioneering Scouts and, best of all, hugs.

Yes, hugs.

New federal guidelines, also supported by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, have allowed relatives to visit nursing home residents indoors for the first time in about a year. Other COVID-19 precautions — masks, hand-washing and health screenings — remain in place, of course.

There have been emotional, long-awaited reunions filled with joy across the county in recent days.

At Lancashire Hall in Manheim Township, Susan Cooper recently had her first in-person visit with her mother since the pandemic started, LNP | LancasterOnline’s Ty Lohr reported.

“As soon as I found out that I was going to be able to come in and give her a hug, it was like a huge relief,” Cooper said.

Lohr also wrote about how Kanwal Mangat was able to hug her 92-year-old, vaccinated father for the first time in over a year.

“Just having that loving, physical touch with the family — it’s very powerful,” Mangat said.

These reunions mark a powerful, poignant moment in our continuing battle against the novel coronavirus, which has upended our world and brought so much sorrow. The thought of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles finally reconnecting with their loved ones — finally moving past the loneliness of the past year — fills us with relief and optimism.

In other good news:

A historic ceremony took place March 28 in Millersville. LNP | LancasterOnline’s Erik Yabor described how “one by one, the girls of Cub Scout Pack 134 crossed the hand-built wooden bridge they had constructed minutes earlier at Freedom Memorial Park ... to receive the Arrow of Light award and officially graduate into the Scout program.”

These trailblazing girls will join Scouts BSA Troop 349 as part of a new all-girls troop based out of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Mountville. They have graduated from the Can-Do Cows, the first all-girl Cub Scout den registered in the Scouts’ Pennsylvania Dutch Council.

After the national move to allow girls into the Scouts in 2018, many of the first participants are excitedly following in the footsteps of grandfathers, fathers or brothers.

“It’s really exciting and fun,” 11-year-old Graceyn Cassidy told LNP | LancasterOnline. “It feels like we’ve come a long way.”

Matt Adams, executive and CEO with the Pennsylvania Dutch Council, said this Arrow of Light crossover ceremony was particularly rewarding.

“It shows that our organization made some decisions a couple of years ago that were the right decisions to invite young ladies to participate,” he said.

Indeed, it was the right move. And what Graceyn and the other girls bring to the Scouts will make it an even stronger and more relevant organization going into the future.

— Also looking to the future is 18-year-old Hempfield High School senior Lilly Heilshorn, who was recently named grand champion of the 68th North Museum Science and Engineering Fair.

Her winning project was titled “The Effect of Ground Composition on the Efficiency of Solar Pavers,” and suffice to say she knows way more about that topic than the members of this editorial board.

For her winning project, “Heilshorn tested an innovative solar design concept created by the Budapest-based tech company Platio,” LNP | LancasterOnline’s Alex Geli explained. “The product, called solar pavement, is essentially a solar panel for the ground, and it’s meant to provide a new clean energy source for cities, companies, homes and more.”

Heilshorn spent about two months “testing several different types of surfaces, from soil and grass to concrete and brick patio, to see which would allow the solar pavers to generate the most electricity,” Geli added.

Heilshorn said she was drawn to the project because it involved both critical thinking and physical labor.

“I am just really big on the hands-on work,” she said. “I love to get out of my seat in the classroom.”

Her next classroom might be at Massachusetts Institute of Technology for environmental engineering in the fall. She expects to attend the school, but has yet to officially commit.

MIT — or whatever college she attends — will be fortunate to have her on campus.

We agree with recent letter writer Ed Mitchell of West Lampeter Township, who wrote: “Research by people like Heilshorn will help point the way to solutions that build a more healthful society and offer more jobs.”

— To end with a cinematic flourish, we liked Tim Mekeel’s recent LNP | LancasterOnline article indicating that “drive-in movie screens are being unfurled in Lancaster County once more this spring, as three local businesses again respond to the pandemic’s restrictions on their operations by reviving a classic — and unfettered — form of entertainment.”

Penn Cinema, Mount Hope Estate & Winery and Phantom Power are the businesses looking to project some classic fan favorites and new blockbusters, like “Godzilla vs. Kong,” onto their big outdoor screens.

“People love the experience and enjoy the nostalgia of it as well,” Penn Ketchum, co-founder and co-owner of Penn Cinema, said.

We hope that, as vaccinations continue across Pennsylvania, indoor movie theaters will be able to open safely and with larger capacities this summer. That’s a form of entertainment we miss greatly.

But, in the meantime, we’ll happily settle for watching Godzilla clobber King Kong (or is it the other way around?) at a drive-in theater. 

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