by Angela Pegarella
It was 2013 when I stumbled upon the Hallmark channel and its famous movies. As a lover of romcoms, I was immediately drawn into the lighthearted, simple, yet entertaining stories. Being from a relatively small town that doesn’t have much to do for fun, I was captivated by how they made small town life attractive. There was something special about seeing a friendly community get together to partake in different traditions and help each other out. The atmosphere would catch my attention, too, with the unique architecture and small businesses.
As time went on, I would pay close attention to the names of the towns featured in the movies, hop on Google, and search for them. Unfortunately, like many things portrayed in movies, none of them were real. Movie after movie, I would try to find a small town that I could visit, but ended up finding that most of the movies were filmed in different parts of Canada or the United States, rather than in one small town. As a travel enthusiast, it saddened me to not be able to add any of these places to my travel bucket list. I once even tried googling “Hallmark towns” to see if I could find any small towns to visit. Nothing. Then one day, I learned that my boyfriend’s family was moving to a town I hadn’t heard of before called “Marietta”.
As someone who has traveled a bit, I’ve always had the best experiences when I didn’t have any preconceived thoughts or expectations. Being that I hadn’t heard of Marietta before, I had none. The second my boyfriend and I pulled into the town to visit his parents, I immediately noticed the charming atmosphere. From the well-preserved brick buildings to big churches and cute storefronts, I felt like I had stepped into a Hallmark movie. A calm and quaint small town, untouched by the corporate world, it became my weekend escape from reality.
The more that I visit, the more I get to know about and experience this hidden treasure. So far, I’ve had the pleasure of walking the trails by the Susquehanna River, dining at McCleary’s and Heart Cafe Marietta, reading a couple of issues of the Marietta Traveler, and doing one of my favorite things, eating ice cream, at Mulberry Thrill.
I have been learning about the small businesses growing and thriving, active and friendly community, and there always seems to be some event going on whenever I visit. I’ve also been lucky enough to see the planters change with the seasons, from beautiful flowers to giant Christmas ornaments. I have even had a bit of the local experience, seeing the vultures that seem to hang around one tree in particular.
Every time that I visit, I add more activities to my list to visit, such as seeing a play by the Susquehanna Stage Company and escaping from First National Escape. Just like the excitement that a new friendship brings, I look forward to getting to know Marietta more with each visit.
Gems like this are hidden and hard to find, but that’s what makes them special. If everywhere were like Marietta, then it would be much harder to appreciate it in its uniqueness. Perhaps it isn’t quite the perfect Hallmark town, as I’ve seen the locals say on Facebook, but it’s better because unlike those fictional towns, it’s real. It’s filled with real people, living real lives, coming together to make this town a special place. As we know, like with anything in life, there’s nothing like experiencing the real thing.