Even after the coal mines closed and the factory jobs disappeared and the businesses began taking down their signs on Broad Street, even after the population started its steady decline and the hospital was on the brink of bankruptcy, the residents of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, flocked downtown for the annual Funfest.
For years Sally Yale participated in the fall parade in a souped-up teacup salvaged from a spinning ride at the shuttered amusement park. Tricked out with smoking dry ice, it was the perfect advertisement for her gourmet coffee shop.
Yale is 53, but her angular face lights up like a child’s when she talks about Funfest. The applause from the crowd. The Hazletonians who returned for the celebration. “And the food,” Yale says, lifting her brows and rolling her eyes to mimic pure bliss. The cannoli and pierogi, the sausages and funnel cakes—treats that represented the waves of European immigrants that had settled in Hazleton’s rolling hills.