Exploring our neighborhood

“Meadville Mania” provided curious Allegheny students the chance to explore downtown Meadville and its well-kept secrets.

Headed by Bonner Leader Leonela Montas, ’13, the event was an effort to expose students to Meadville businesses and to detail some of Meadville’s history.

What initially become a fun-filled, fast-paced scavenger hunt, began as an informative lesson on the ins-and-outs of Meadville’s CATA buses.

“The CATA tour evolved and we didn’t use the CATA idea,” said Montas.

Instead, after speaking with ACCEL’s Assistant Director of Community Service and Bonner Program Coordinator, Jamie Williams, Montas concentrated her efforts on bringing Meadville to Allegheny students.

“I didn’t have any particular expectations except to run around downtown Meadville,”  aid Juanita Campbell-Heredia, ’10, one of Meadville Mania’s participants and first-place finishers. “I’m pretty familiar with Meadville, so I knew what to expect.”

Participants were treated to countless Meadville businesses, including the Market House, Tattered Corners, Uniquely Yours, the Artist Cup, The Academy Theater, and @ the Bank.

In addition to visiting these particular businesses, Montas wanted to incorporate some of Meadville’s historical charm into the scavenger hunt. To satisfy this historical aspect, Montas got a hold of Davies leader, Ryan Cole, ’10.

“I went to one [ASG freshmen class] meeting and helped out with the financial aspects and logistics,” said Cole. The scavenger hunt commenced at the Founder’s House, which according to Cole, is recognized as the founding site of both Meadville’s Chamber of Commerce and the college. Cole was also a team leader of one of six teams of five.

Departing from the Founder’s House, each team leader went their own way, providing clues to each of their teams. Though Montas indicated that she had expected a slightly larger turnout, she was generally satisfied with the student response, given the weather conditions.

Participants generally enjoyed the experience and had expressed interest in continuing “Meadville Mania” every year. Campbell-Heredia was grateful for the historical side of the scavenger hunt.

“As a Bonner we learn about Meadville and what Meadville has to offer through our peers and volunteer work so I already knew a lot about the community,” she said. “Meadville Mania definitely taught me more of the historical aspects, such as the Meridian Building.”

A fan favorite was the Market House where an employee named Elizabeth, more fondly known as “the cookie lady,” had prepared cookies in the shape of Gators for students. Meadville business owners reported having appreciated the positive interactions with Allegheny students.

“Uniquely Yours, which just opened October 31, was really excited about having so many students,” said Montas. Some businesses provided Montas with $5 vouchers as incentive for students to linger in downtown after the scavenger hunt. First, second, and third-place finishers were also rewarded for their efforts with goodies from select participating businesses. Following the scavenger hunt, Montas received e-mails from participants that expressed a newfound appreciation for Meadville and its charm.

“I would definitely like to do something like this again. It was a lot of work, so there will be less later on next year,” she said.

By MEGAN KNOX

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