Fall Break Top Five

Scranton offers some of the best autumn plans in the country, from beautiful scenery to delicious eateries to picture-perfect pumpkin patches. If you’re spending your fall break in wonderful NEPA, you definitely won’t have a lack of plans. I’ve compiled a list of the five best things to do for your five days of complete fall fun.


After your last day of classes, you might be tempted to go into a semi-hibernation. Before doing so, enjoy some (free) First Friday festivities! From 5-9pm, over 25 venues throughout downtown Scranton will showcase live music, paintings, photography, pottery, Halloween themed exhibits and of course, delicious snacks. Singer and guitar player Riley Loftus will perform live at the Steamtown Market Place, Visual artist Sam Kuchwara will show:  Recent Works in Painting and Mixed Media at Northern Lights Espresso Bar, and Painter and printmaker Marc Schimsky will show his work on the first floor of AFA Gallery. Check out the map and kist of First Friday’s locations on http://www.firstfridayscranton.com/


Boo! It’s officially Halloween season, and if you’re down for an exceptionally haunting experience, head to Reaper’s Revenge Haunted Attraction! Reaper’s Revenge is four haunted attractions in one, combining a haunted hayride, dark forest walkthrough, pitch-black indoor walkthrough, and apocalyptic zombie maze. Not to brag, but it’s also been voted America’s Best Haunted Attraction. If being scared is at the top of your fall break to-do list, test your fate at Reapers!


So, you spent your Saturday screaming and crying (in a cool way) at Reaper’s and need to wind down a bit. What better place to relax than Ritter’s Cider Mill? Ritter’s is an old-fashioned and down-home cider mill open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can enjoy a hayride, corn maze, farm animals, apple slingshots and even watch cider being made! You can sight-see on a not-so-haunted (thank goodness) hayride, sip on some delicious homemade cider, and take in the beauty of NEPA fall all in one trip. Ritter’s is located in Mt. Cobb, just a short 20-minute drive from campus!


Fall isn’t fall without carving a pumpkin. Roba Family Farms has you covered. As you pick your perfect pumpkin to bring home, you can enjoy a fresh apple cider doughnut or campfire s’mores. Between the pumpkin patch, mega corn maze, pig races and wagon rides, you definitely won’t be bored. Here are some one-of-a-kind pumpkin carving ideas to try out this year, thank me later for the inspo.


It’s the last day of break, and before you get ahead on all of the work you procrastinated, there’s still some time for fall fun. Sometimes a little scenery and time in nature is exactly what you need, and NEPA has some of the best fall foliage in the country. Enjoy a scenic drive to Lake Wallenpaupack, the Delaware Water Gap, or the Poconos. Or, for the more adventurous, head to Pocono TreeVentures for the ultimate zip lining experience! I mean, what can get you into the fall spirit more than zipping mid-air through the foliage!


Whatever you decide to do this fall break, stay safe, have fun and make the most of your time before midterms!


Fall Break: Nashville

The journey began at 1:00 in the morning the Thursday of Fall Break and lasted 12 more hours till nine friends and I ended at our final destination for fall break: Nashville, Tennessee.

It’s not that common of a spot for a road trip on Fall Break, but I knew the 24 plus hours of driving would be worth it, and — believe me — Music City did not disappoint. The scenery was beautiful as we drove through the states of Maryland, Virgina, West Virginia and Kentucky. Each of those states had remarkable views of valleys, mountains and hills. As we made our way down south we saw fall foliage, which was a gorgeous scene. If you looked off into the distance from the highway you would also see farmland with plenty of animals which is something I don’t see a lot. The drive showed the beautiful landscape we don’t always appreciate on the east coast.

Nashville is a young, vibrant and small city with some of the best up and coming musicians lining up on the streets and in restaurants showcasing their talent trying to get discovered. The main street where all the action is called Broadway. The street is about a mile long with some of the best BBQ places around. All had live music blaring till the early morning hours. We enjoyed restaurants that were featured on the hit Food Network show, “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” and one of them was the best burger place I have been too. I personally enjoyed a burger that featured pico de gallo and avocado that was amazing. If you ever make your way down there definitely check out “The Pharmacy” for the best burgers in Nashville.

My favorite activity was the wagon tour around the city. The wagon was pulled by a tractor for two hours around the city with around 25 people on it. It was a great way to see the city. As you went up and down each street, people on the sidewalks were taking photos and videos of us. It made me feel like a celebrity in a parade. It was truly a remarkable experience.

I highly recommend that this be the next spot you go with your friends. The city is so unique and is really made for a fun time that won’t disappoint.

Oct 10: Fall Break in West Chester, PA

After a few very stressful weeks, I was ecstatic to go home and have some down time. My fall break wasn’t anything exciting, but it was exactly what I needed! The first thing I see when I get home is the changing leaves in Chester County and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

It was great to spend quality time with my family and just relax. When I got home, I was immediately greeted by my dog, Cody, and he followed me around for a good two days.

On Saturday, I got to go out to one of my favorite breakfast places, Hanks Diner, with two of my best friends, Emily and Maddi. The French toast there is to die for! We also met up with our friend, Logan, and had a good time sharing laughs and catching up on each other’s lives at school. Later that evening, I had dinner with my family and my dad made my favorite dish, spaghetti and sausage! When I smell that pasta sauce being made, I know I’m in for a real treat.  But, the best part of the day was sitting on the couch and watching a movie with my mom. My dad calls us “TV buddies” and always tells me how much my mom misses me. We watched the movie A Good Year. Of course, it’s a romantic comedy … that’s our favorite genre! Along with all the family time, I got to see our family friends and their kids. The kids are two years old and five months and they just bring so much happiness to my life! I always make a point to see them when I come home.

When it was finally time to leave, my mom and I decided to treat ourselves one last time and get our nails done. We always say that it makes us feel more put together having a fresh color on our nails. Now I’m starting the week feeling refreshed and ready to work hard until Thanksgiving!

Oct. 10: My Fall Break 2017

Fall – it’s my favorite season for many reasons. Fall has the golden sunsets, beautiful burnt red and orange leaves falling from trees, and, of course, Halloween. On top of all of that, there’s Fall Break. The drive home during Fall Break is scenic and stunning, the trees dotting the mountains bursting with the oranges and yellows of fall. It’s something I look forward to. But, not as much as being able to go home and see my family after a week of midterms and papers…on top of papers.

Fall Break is the time when my family and I can lounge around in our living room watching some of our traditional Halloween movies (“Hocus Pocus” is always go-to, the Sanderson sisters are a must). This year, my cousin and I traveled to Easton for “Garlic Fest” – something I had never heard of, nor thought I would ever attend. But, I was glad we went. Food vendors, street performers, artists and local businesses lined the downtown Art district. Lively streets bustling with people from all walks of life – families with their children, teenagers and their friends, adults roaming around together. It was an experience I wish I had sooner. I always look forward to seeing my two little cousins, Giavonna and Evan, because they are two of the smartest, funniest kids I’ve ever met. And, finally, I get to hang out with my friends (15 years and counting) that live on the same street as me- Jorge and Christian. Anything we do is fun, for example, we took a trip to an Ikea in Philly just to scope out some furniture for a future apartment. Fall break is something we need, a break from all of the homework and studying to take time to regroup and relax with family and friends.

I always look forward to seeing my two little cousins, Giavonna and Evan, because they are two of the smartest, funniest kids I’ve ever met. And, finally, I get to hang out with my friends (15 years and counting), Jorge and Christian, who live on my street. Anything we do is fun. For example, we took a trip to an Ikea in Philly just to scope out some furniture for a future apartment. Fall break is something we need, a break from all of the homework and studying to take time to regroup and relax with family and friends.

Check out my photos from Fall Break on Flickr.

Oct. 10: Fall Break at Elk Mountain Fall Festival

By Jessica D’Aquila

From scenic chairlift rides to delicious fresh kettle corn, Elk Mountain’s annual Fall Festival was the ideal way to kick off my favorite season.  Elk Mountain, the tallest peak in Northeastern Pennsylvania, is a ski resort nestled in the Endless Mountains just 30 minutes north of Scranton. The mountain is a skier and snowboarder’s dream – with trails suited for experts and beginners alike.

Every year, Elk hosts its Fall Festival to celebrate all things autumn: It’s two days of delicious food, local craft vendors, and a chairlift ride to the best view in town! The nostalgia of sitting on the lift is irresistible for skiers, like myself, who had to wait months itching for the ski season to begin. It takes about 15 minutes to reach the peak of Elk Mountain and once you do, the view is unforgettable: up to 90 miles of visibility. There are splashes of yellow, orange, red and green as far as the eye can see and somewhere in the far distance, you will see the faded outline of the Catskill mountains.

After the beautiful chairlift ride, we decided to check out some of the local vendors. Dozens of booths are lined up from artisanal soaps, home decor and paintings to homemade fudge, kettle corn and candied nuts. After walking through all the tents, and wanting to buy everything, we settled on a bag of sweet and salty kettle corn (still warm!) and some cinnamon candied pecans. I may or may not have finished the entire bag before the car ride home… what a perfect way to celebrate one of the most beautiful times of year in scenic Pennsylvania!


October 19

What I did for Fall Break

By: Kayla Johnson

After the stress of midterm exams and papers, Fall Break was much needed. I was looking forward to some rest and relaxation in the comfort of my home. I got home that Friday afternoon and was instantly greeted by my puppy; he’s a Yorkie named Cooper. It was easy to get back into my routine at home, playing around with my dog and hanging around with my sisters, Brianna and Hailey, and catching up with my ultimate best friend — my mom.

I finally got to see my best friend, George (who I’ve known since I was 5), we talked about anything and everything, like we always do. We binge watched all of the Star Wars movies and downed every kind of candy — maybe too much candy (especially gummy bears, my personal favorite).

My next stop was my grandmother’s house, where I was served up some delicious, homemade Italian pasta with her original marinara sauce paired with meatballs and garlic bread. The perfect meal. It was a basic family night surrounded by my favorite people sharing laughs and never-ending jokes — something I look forward to whenever I come home.

Although it may not seem like much, this Fall Break was everything I needed — a nice amount of relaxation balanced with seeing some of my favorite people. I always look forward to some time to myself without the pressures of schoolwork, but, I also can’t wait until I can come back and see all of my friends. No matter where I am, I always have so much to look forward to and I couldn’t be happier about it.

By Megan Castaldi

Fall Break is one of the most anticipated breaks that we have at The University of Scranton. It is the first break of the year, so I am always eager to go home to visit with my family and any of my friends who may be home as well.

This Fall Break I did not go anywhere exciting or do anything crazy, but rather relaxed and appreciated my time at home. I got to see some of my friends from home, celebrate my sister’s 22nd birthday, watch my brother’s soccer game and bake a bunch of cookies with my grandma.

My grandma loves to bake, so it was nice to do something with her that she really loves doing; she also makes the best cookies you’ve ever had, so that’s an added plus.

The combination of all of these small things made for a very enjoyable Fall Break for me. It was nice to get a break from doing schoolwork and to hang out and enjoy the fall season with family

A Night at the Iron Furnaces: Scranton Bonfire Festival

By: Kayla Johnson

Scranton Bonfire FestivalThis past Saturday, Scranton’s historic Iron Furnaces hosted the sixth annual Bonfire festival. The Bonfire Festival acts as a fundraiser for the Anthracite Heritage Museum and explores the roots of Halloween in good, old-fashioned Celtic style.

Other autumnal festivals and Northeastern Pennsylvania’s industrial history are brought to light and celebrated through the Bonfire Festival. This year’s festival featured tarot card readings, fire twirlers, a Jack-O-Lantern contest, face painting, fire hooping, a balloon artist, stilt walking, a Day of the Dead ofrenda, a fairytale demonstration and plenty of hands-on activities sponsored by the Everhart Museum. There was live theatre, dance performances by Symmetry Studio, a Harvest Display by the Greenhouse Project at Nay Aug Park and — last but not least —the amazing ceremonial lighting of the bonfire.

All were encouraged to come dressed in their Halloween costumes and enjoy the historic site. The crowds enjoyed the activities as the furnaces acted as a picturesque backdrop.

Read more about the bonfire, here!

Step into Reality: The Poverty Simulation

By: Kayla Johnson

This past Friday, the Campus Ministries’ Center for Service and Social Justice hosted the Poverty Simulation, an exercise that allows students to explore what it’s like to struggle to survive with only the bare minimum on a month-to-month basis. The purpose of the simulation is to open the eyes of more than 80 students to the daily battle low-income families deal with, whether it’s being on welfare, attempting to get their next meal or finding child care for children.

“I did this in order to gain a greater insight as to what the real world could be like . . . good or bad,” said Adrian Laudani, a junior who participated in the Poverty Simulation.

The simulation took place in DeNaples and introduced a host of students to the severity of living an impoverished life in this country. The students assumed the roles of more than 26 families facing the harsh reality of poverty. Some of those 26 families are newly unemployed, others are homeless, while some may be senior citizens receiving disability as well as trying to raise their grandchildren. The job of the “families” is to supply basic necessities and decent housing during the course of four weeks lasting 15 minutes.