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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Bouncing the Racist

A lot of things about the Donald Sterling affair stink.

To get you up to speed, Sterling is the owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers.  He was caught making horribly racist comments.

First, a private conversation was made public.

Second, this is America, and people have the right to say stupid things.

Third, the National Basketball Association has the power to police its own.

Fourth, the record will show Sterling didn't run his team in a racist manner.  He's had five black head coaches, a black general manager, and several black employees in the front office.

On the other hand, some of his minority employees claim they've been treated in a discriminatory manner.

Sterling should realize he did something awful, and sell the team-- for the good of his players, other teams, the league, and all basketball fans.

You would like to think American society has evolved beyond things like the Sterling situation.  It hasn't.

Sterling deserves due process.  We don't want a rush to judgement, although things look really bad at this point.

The league's banned Sterling for life and will force him to sell the team.  He's an old man and doesn't need the money.  Part of me just wants him to go away, but I smell a court fight that will get very ugly before it's over.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

One Option


Considerable TV time, newspaper space and band width has been dedicated to last week's demolition of the Huber Breaker in Ashley.

It was a magnificent structure, and worthy of preservation.  Unfortunately, there was no money to do it, and there was no sign that money would ever appear.

Without preservation, the breaker was a symbol of the bad old days-- dangerous working conditions, abused and under paid workers, pollution, scarred earth...  It's a long list.  You could see the breaker rising up as you traveled on Interstate 81, and I wonder what visitors thought when they saw it.  I suspect most viewed the breaker as a symbol as an area that couldn't struggle away from its mining past, an area stuck in a depressed time.

When you add it all up, demolition was the only viable option.

Use this as a teaching moment.  There are many structures in the area that can be, and should be saved.  The Wilkes-Barre Boulevard train station and the Irem Temple on North Franklin Street are prime examples.  Both are well on the road to deterioration that can't be fixed, and we'll lose them, too.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Musto & Mericle

Former state senator Ray Musto died Thursday.  85.

Musto was in elective offices for around 40 years.  He died with unresolved federal corruption charges.  Musto fought to delay the trial, almost from the moment the grand jury made its presentment.  Finally, Musto was too old and too sick to go on trial.

I don't know about you, but if I was accused of a crime I didn't commit, I'd spend by last breath defending myself.  If Musto went on trial when the first date was set and beat the rap, we'd be erecting a statue of him rather than placing an asterisk on his obituary.

A colleague who worked at another station attributed Musto's popularity to the fact that Ray Musto looked like one of the guys who signed the Declaration of Independence.  It wasn't meant as an insult, and if memory serves, the line was delivered to Musto's face.  I'll give him that-- Ray Musto had an everyman quality and an approachability few politicians possess.  It's why it was so disheartening when federal investigators found envelopes of cash in Musto's office.  We expected better.  We deserved better.

Any time I think of Rob Mericle, I think of one of my junior high school teachers.  Her philosophy on test cheating was as follows:  The answer givers would by punished more harshly than the answer takers.  The reasoning was that you'd have to be crazy not take the information.

Rob Mericle was apparently a busy guy.  He spread the cash around.  Yet, he was only charged with failing to report a crime, a relatively minor offense.  It can be argued he was the genesis of Kids for Ca$h, but it could also be argued Conahan and Ciavarella were on the prowl for money, and if Mericle didn't supply it, someone else would.

Rob Mericle has donated a lot of time and money to charity.  While that's a good thing, remember that no one ever made a donation they couldn't afford.  Plus, there is strong evidence to support some of Mericle's money came from projects that benefited from bribery.   Once your innocence is gone, you can't buy it back  No matter how hard you monetarily grease the eye of the needle, the camel will not pass through.

I will admit that I'm surprised Mericle will see jail time, and a year at that.  The judge, rightfully, realized this was a very serious situation.  It impacted thousands of lives.  Mericle, Ciavarella, and Conahan showed a callous recklessness as they chased dollars and threw children by the side of the road.

Mericle supporters used the "collateral damage" argument to keep him out of jail.  They told the judge Mericle employees would be the ones who suffer if the boss goes to jail.  First, Mericle, I think, was smart enough to plan for the day he wouldn't be around, voluntarily or otherwise.  Second, show me a punishment that doesn't include collateral damage.  Ask Penn State fans about that concept.

This is perhaps one of the sorriest episodes in the history of our area.  As much as we should move on, what happened in Luzerne County should never be forgotten.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Andy's Angles: Ice

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the sound evergreens make in the wind.  Today, another sound entry.

This is a photo of the lake at Lackawanna State Park.  I took it in late March-- on a cold, but sunny morning.  The sun was strong.  You could actually hear the ice crack.  I kid you not.  And there was more.  The plates of ice created a groaning sound as the motion of the water below forced them against each other.

Winter had its moments.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Andy's Angles: Reflections '14


I know winter is history, and many of us would like to forget it, but I still have a few winter pictures in the queue that need to be burned off before we move on to other things.

I took a similar shot as the winter of 12-13 wrapped up.  This is the lake at Lackawanna State Park, as it looked in late March.  A hole in the ice was opening up, and getting bigger by the day

Friday, April 25, 2014

25

Red Barons.  Yankees.  RailRiders.

Minor league baseball marks the 25th anniversary of the return to our area tomorrow.

For a long time, it seemed impossible.  There were problems with financing and building a stadium.  Then there were major issues finding a team and bringing it here.  All of that came to an end the night of April 26th, 1989.


I'm happy to say I was there for the beginning of the project, the construction of the stadium, and the first pitch on that chilly April night.  If you remember, the stadium in Moosic wasn't ready on time and the Red Barons spent the first few weeks of the season on the road.  I was even at that first game in Rochester.

Below is a shot of me on the field in Moosic before the first game.  I have to admit it was awe inspiring.  Our area isn't used to "big league" stuff, and even though it was Triple A, it was still impressive.
And, below, in the press box.  I was at WARM at the time.  We weren't the official Red Barons radio station, but we did more at the ballpark that day and night than the others.  I walked out of there that night with my head held high.

I can't say I was happy with everything that's transpired in the last two and a half decades.  The stadium became a place for friends of the politically connected.  I saw some really talented people passed over for jobs because they didn't know the right people.  The hand off to Mandalay was poorly handled, and I still can't say I trust everything it does.  Empire State Yankees, during the year away for stadium reconstruction, was a hideous choice, and I'm not a fan of the RailRiders name.

Having said all that, the reconstructed stadium looks great.  While some prices have gone up, a day at the ballpark is still a decent entertainment value.  It's a good place to spend a few hours.

It's difficult to look down the road and remember a time when our area was without a team.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thursday Scrapple

Tuesday night's Colbert on Letterman appearance was a tad underwhelming.  However, Letterman's Robin Roberts interview that followed was outstanding.  Over the years, Letterman has learned how to ask a question, and he wasn't afraid to take the show serious for a moment.

Donald Trump has never been one of my favorite people.  Even though he helped destroy the old USFL, I'd be OK with Trump buying the Buffalo Bills.

Chelsea Handler has taken herself out of the running for a CBS late night show.  Good.  Handler is a one trick pony:  saying mean things about people.

McDonald's had a bad financial quarter.  The company says it will turn its attention to improving customer service, and concentrate on its core products.  It's something I've been saying for years.  The menu became too large.  Get me a burger, and do it fast.

NBC's "The Blacklist" has remained consistently entertaining throughout the season.

Congratulations to Chicago's Wrigley Field, 100 years old.

There are few things better than an absolutely fresh doughnut.  I had the good fortune Tuesday morning of having a story near a doughnut shop.  I was amazed that I stopped at one creamy and sugary delight.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bud

Radio will not be the same after today.

Bud Brown is retiring.

The man has been a fixture in local radio news.  I first remember Bud when he worked for the old WBRE AM/FM, then KRZ, then WILK.  He had one of the finest voices ever heard in this area, or in the U.S., for that matter.  Deep voice.  Smooth.  Clever writer.

I got to know Bud personally when I started going out on the road for WARM back in 1982.  He was always friendly, polite and professional.  I learned a lot just by watching, and of course, listening.  The good ones make it look easy.  Bud is one of the good ones.

Bud, enjoy your retirement.  Thanks for being an example of how to do things the right way.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

First Person: Danville Fire

There are fires, and there are fires.

An Easter night fire in Danville was among the larger.

BJ's Steak and Ribs on Mill Street burned.  The building goes back to the 1880's.  BJ's has been there since 1982.

A man lost his business.  Employees lost their jobs.  Residents in adjacent apartments were smoked out for a while.  A consignment shop needs extensive cleaning before it re-opens.  People lost a restaurant they liked.
  The story goes beyond the smoke and the flames.    Firefighters kept those flames from spreading down the block.  A woman in an apartment above Abigail's escaped unharmed, but only with the clothes on her back.  Danville lost a business.

Danville has always been one of my favorite places.  The downtown contains some cool old buildings.  There aren't many empty storefronts.  I know having a massive hospital in the backyard doesn't hurt.

Walk around when you get a chance.  How many towns of its size have a cable news operation, two competing and side by side jewelry stores, a skate board shop, a model train shop, plus several bars and restaurants?

Danville seems to be one of those places I visit only when something bad happens.  I sincerely hope that changes in the future.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Decisions

I was entertaining a friend from Connecticut last week.

Let's consider our options:  malls and shopping centers, parks, baseball, hockey, movies, Steamtown and museums, river walks, fine dining, not so fine dining, various sightseeing...

What was her choice?  Wegman's!

Really?

There are no Wegman's in Connecticut, and my friend had read about Wegman's coming out on top of a Consumer Reports survey.  She wanted to see what it was all about.

Sorry.  It didn't fit in to our schedule.  Next time.

I can understand my friend's curiosity about Wegman's and I can also understand why it did so well in the Consumer Reports survey.  It's more than a supermarket.  It's also a food court, with things you won't find elsewhere.

WalMart finished at the bottom of the Consumer Reports survey.

I spend time at both stores, mainly because both are open 24 hours, and I'm not a 9 to 5 worker.

I can also understand why people are unhappy with WalMart.  Most of the frustration comes at the often interminable check out line.  As far as the store goes, it has what I need at prices I can pay-- and it's always open.  You'll just have to learn to live with the rest.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Andy's Angles: Happy Easter!

Regular blog readers know I love old, small, country churches.

On this Easter Sunday morning, a shot of Waverly United Methodist Church.

Enjoy the holiday.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Andy's Angles: The Sound Remains the Same

I've been meaning to write about this for a while.  A quiet Easter weekend seems like a good time.

My daily walk takes me through a cemetery, and that's where today's photos were taken.

Back when I was kid, we had two enormous pine trees in the yard.  They towered above the house.  Those trees really swayed in storms, but today's blog is about the sound.  You could hear an eerie "whoosh" during storms, and plain old windy days.

Fast forward several decades.
The cemetery has several pines and other evergreens.  Purists, forgive me for now knowing the exact names.  My dog and I have been in that cemetery on many a windy day.
The sound is exactly the same.  It takes me back.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Records

I always enjoyed it, but somehow, I got away from the practice.

On a slow afternoon, I'd wander in to a record store, and look for lost treasure.  I wasn't after the new stuff and the latest hits.  There was gold, solid gold, in the oldies bins.  More often than not, I'd walk out with something I hadn't heard in years-- something that brought back a lot of memories.  Memories of when downtown Scranton had a handful of record stores, and just about every department store has a record section.

Why did I stop?  I really don't know.  I suspect the quick and easy availability of music via internet and iTunes.  I'd hear a song on the radio.  Seconds and 99 cents later, it was on my iPod.

I'll always have a fondness for records, especially vinyl.  My early days in radio were spent putting 33's and 45's on the turntables of my college radio station.

If that isn't enough, Capitol Records used to have a huge plant in south Scranton.  Vinyl is in our blood.

If you're considering a record store visit, tomorrow would be a good day   It's National Record Store Day, a day devoted to music, records, and the independent retailers working to keep us entertained.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Bunny Trail

I lived closer to college than I did to my high school.  I started working weekends and overnights at a radio station when I was a sophomore.  I'm not complaining, but I did miss a lot of the "college experience."

I got to re-live a little of that yesterday.  A college friend was in town to pick up her daughter from the University of Scranton, prior to the Easter break, and I was invited to stop by to say hello.

Wow!  It was get away day, as students finished up their work prior to high tailing it, or bunny hopping it, out of town.  Cars and mini vans were all over the place as students packed up their stuff.   Plenty of relatives were there to help.  There seemed to be some urgency in the air, as this is the last big break before finals and the end of the semester.

Everyone was in a hurry.  Traffic moved slowly, but it appeared to be an organized chaos.  While most were getting out of town yesterday, there were still some with things that needed to be completed before the University shuts down at noon Thursday.  A handful of students appeared to be sticking around for the extra day.

May the bunny bestow loads of treats upon you and yours.  Travel safely.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

PS

I'm not sure how long it will stay up on the CBS News web site, but there's an outstanding piece on how the network covered the Boston Marathon bombing last year.  It takes you through 100 hours of coverage in about ten minutes, with some great behind the scenes stuff.

I can't believe how Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly are so upset over Stephen Colbert getting Letterman's job.  Colbert has to be loving the publicity.  If Limbaugh and O'Reilly really want to do some damage, ignore it.

I also can't believe that we still can't find that Malaysian jet.

Even though it happened on a vacation day, I enjoyed yesterday's rain.  A warm springtime rain usually encourages things to green up and leaves to pop.

Gabriel Brothers, a discount clothing chain, is moving in to the mostly vacant East End Center in Wilkes-Barre.  Never been in one.  I'm interested in seeing what it's all about.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Not Fair

I was at a vet's office, picking up some medication yesterday morning, when a man was bringing in a big, old, black dog.  Most of it was under a blanket.  I couldn't tell if the dog was male or female.  The breed looked to be border collie or something similar.  The dog appeared to be in great distress.  The owner was very upset.  I hope I was wrong, but I got the feeling that only one of them was going home.

It was clear that dog had a good home for a long time.  Even though it appeared the border collie story didn't end well, I was happy someone cared.

I've said it here before, but crimes against the defenseless bother me most.  Kids, elderly, animals.

Today's entry is clearly about animals.

We've seen a lot of disgusting things in this area-- hoarders, pierced kittens, puppy mills, violators of court orders, abuse, neglect...  It's a long list, and getting longer.

A friend who worked in the animal welfare business once told me a big part of the problem is some people view animals as disposable.

Animal abuse penalties in this state are a little more than a slap on the wrist.

Maybe people would wise up if animal abuse was more than a misdemeanor.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bumpy Road

Potholes are bad.

That's an inside joke.  I'm sorry.

However, today's topic is potholes-- something I've refrained writing about, in depth (pardon the pun) here.  But, the weather's been nice for a few weeks.  Potholes are almost as bad as ever.  There's no excuse, and it's time we talk about it.

I do most of my traveling in Lackawanna County, so I'll focus on the problems there.  Penn Avenue, Davis Street, Woodlawn Street, North Washington Avenue, the area around the old Scranton Lace, the Olyphant side of the "anchor" in Blakely...  all hideous.  I'm sure there are more, throughout our area, and I'm not picking on the people in those places-- just pointing out examples.

For weeks, I've been willing to cut the people in charge some slack.  This is the worst winter in a while.  Above normal snow.  Below normal cold.  Plenty of freeze/thaw cycles.  Check the calendar.  It's mid April and these problems should be fixed by now.

As I drove on awful roads the other morning, one of the possible reasons for the pothole issue jumped out at me.  It's embarrassment.  Once public sector employees, starting at the very bottom, and going to the very top, lose their capability of being embarrassed, it's all over.  Unfortunately, we have a lot of people, in important positions, who cannot be embarrassed.  It makes no difference whether it's the municipality level, or the county, or the state. If they were embarrassed by the condition of the roads, they'd be fixed.

Now that we've identified the problem, what about a solution?  It's simple.  Demand better.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Andy's Angles: Bloomsburg

As I noted yesterday, Bloomsburg is one of my favorite places.

I'm not a "fair" guy, and people should know there's more to Bloomsburg than that yearly September fair.

There's the university, a busy little downtown, restaurants, historic buildings, statues, a fountain...

My last visit was on a chilly, snow, slushy morning.  I hope to get back when the weather improves.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Andy's Angles: Caldwell Consistory

The Caldwell Consistory, located in the Central Susquehanna Valley town of Bloomsburg, is one of the grandest landmark buildings in the area. Built in 1906, this Victorian, Modified Colonial Revival style is a central destination for parties, proms, receptions, promotional events, concerts and theater. It is home also home to the Free Masons and the Children’s Dyslexia Learning Center.

The paragraph above is from the Caldwell Consistory's web site.  I took the photo below, a few weeks ago, on a snowy spring morning.

Bloomsburg is one of my favorite places.  It has that college town vibrancy and energy.  Plus, it has more than its share of signature buildings and history.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Media Notes

Just a few things today...

Colbert for Letterman?  A safe choice, but a good choice.  Once Colbert drops the character thing, he can be a solid host and comedian in the Carson/Letterman mold.  I hope CBS can reach a deal to keep Craig Ferguson at 12:35 AM.  He's out there, but occasionally outrageously funny.

Jane Pauley is leaving NBC News after 40 years to become a contributor for the CBS News "Sunday Morning" broadcast.  It seems like a perfect fit.  Plus, when 81 year old Charles Osgood chooses to hang up his bow tie, the 63 year old Pauley will be a perfect replacement.

What will CNN exploit once they find the Malaysian jet?

Mickey Rooney appeared in dozens of movies and tv shows.  He appeared on stage countless times, and died with an estate valued at $18,000.

It's nice to see baseball back on TV, and the MLB Network's daily highlights package show is outstanding.

"The Price is Right" celebrated its 8,000th show this week.  Jeez O'Pete, I remember the first of the "new" series in 1972.

I'm off this weekend.  Bill Wadell will handle the weekend morning broadcasts.

I'll see you soon.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lessons Learned

We've had another case of violence in schools.  The latest is a series of stabbing yesterday near Pittsburgh.

In spite of it all, the vast, vast majority of American schools are safe.  That's easy for me to say.  I'm not a parent.  There are no school aged children in the family.

Schools should be fun and happy places.  The thought of an armed police or security officer in every hallway troubles me.  Doors are locked.  At times, security resembles that of a prison, without the bars.  I'm not sure I'd be comfortable in that atmosphere.  I'm sure it does give parents a more secure feeling.

These days, security is as big as a concern as the books and computers.

Think of the kindergartener entering school this fall.  The only school they will ever know is one where the security officer with the gun strapped to his her waist is as familiar as their teacher.  What seems abnormal and frightening to those of us long gone from the classroom will be just another day at school, a heavily armed school.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

And So It Begins...

Wilkes-Barre had its first homicide of 2014 Monday night-- a stabbing on South Hancock Street.  Charles Edmonds dead.  Al-Tariq Peterkin charged.

Wilkes-Barre had a dozen homicides last year and in half the cases, the killers still walk the streets.

You could see it on the faces of law enforcement.  Even though an arrest was quickly made, many had that "Here we go again" look.  Another violent year ahead.  More media scrutiny.  More angry citizens.  More faith in government and the powers that be lost.  I also detected some of that "if we don't talk about it, it doesn't exist" attitude.

There are two ways to do this-- confront the issue, head on...  or do more of the same, a tactic that's failed in the past.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Bank On It



I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was.

I had to do a little banking Friday morning.  Nothing major.  Just cashing an income tax refund check and splitting the money between a couple accounts.

I visited two bank branches, next door to each other.  At one time, visiting a bank on a Friday was an exercise in wasted time and frustration.  You had to battle a crowded parking lot outside and long lines inside.

Times have changed.  Both branches were just about empty.  I zipped in and out.

When I sat down and thought about it, it made perfect sense.  I still write a few checks every month, but most bills are paid directly from an account, or I do it manually, on-line.  I don't remember what newspaper I saw it in, but a recent story noted how banks are building smaller branches.  The need for multiple teller stations isn't there.

You have a bank at your fingertips, in the form of the computer or smart phone, in your home.  Brick and mortar bank branches are on the way out.

Pardon a geezer moment, but I do miss those big old banks, with the marble and the stone, and the enormous steel vaults, and the high ceilings.  Those old banks were cool places.  Now, even the smaller buildings are endangered.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Next

It was widely felt that David Letterman would leave CBS after his current contract is up.  Letterman made it official Thursday night.  He's retiring next year.  The exact date has not been announced.

You knew it was coming.  That doesn't make it less sad.

Even though Letterman didn't seem happy in recent months, he was still head and shoulders above the other options.

That brings the issue of succession.

Craig Ferguson does the 12:35 AM show on CBS.  Funny.  Big fan.  He might be a little too edgy for 11:35, but Ferguson seems to be the type who can temper his act.  Most late night hosts have a WASPy appeal to them.  I'm not sure American will warm up to a guy from Scotland.

Many seem to favor Jon Stewart.  Another funny guy, but I don't think he wears well.  Letterman could be curmudgeonly, but he still had a warmth and charm.  I don't get that from Stewart.

If CBS asked me, I'd pick Stephen Colbert, as long as he loses some of the snark.  Most media lists I've read, including the New York Times, have Colbert at or near the top of the list.

Replacing The King of Late Night won't be easy.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Andy's Angles: Shocker

It's 2014, and you would think someone would have found a way to unobtrusively get massive amounts of electricity from point A to point B.

In the meantime, this is what we have.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Andy's Angles: Towers

It seems like they are everywhere you look these days-- new electricity towers, and the scarred earth to make room for them.

On the bright side, service is supposed to be more reliable, and without electricity, this blog and my weekend visits in to your home wouldn't be possible.

This is a recent shot from Chinchilla, just outside of Scranton.

Friday, April 4, 2014

GM

I've had a few General Motors vehicles during my lifetime, although my last GM car was about 20 years ago.  I was happy, and I'm sure there are millions of satisfied GM customers out there today.

Having said that, the congressional hearings into defective GM vehicles is stunning and jaw dropping.  GM has recalled millions, MILLIONS, of vehicles this year.  There's particular focus on a small car with a defective ignition system.  The car would shut off, and disable safety devices, like air bags.

It's apparent the problem was known inside GM for years, and no one said a word.  A new part would have cost less than one dollar.

GM has already hired an attorney to work on settlements with victims' families.

I've seen people go to jail for less.

The new head of the company hasn't said or done much to restore confidence.  People need more than "We're sorry."


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Not So Fast

So many people are prepared to declare winter over, dead and buried.

Not me.

Cold spells and snow are not unusual in April.  Considering what we've experienced the last several months, a chill and a flake in the April air seems more than likely.

I doesn't make it less pleasant.  Expect the worst, and you'll never be disappointed.

The photo above was taken on snowy Monday morning, at Main and Market, in downtown Bloomsburg.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

LifeFlight

I know Geisinger takes LifeFlight out for show and tells once in a while.  Otherwise, be happy you don't have an up close encounter with it, because it usually means something bad.  On the other hand, it does get you to care faster, and minutes count.

LifeFlight was parked in a field in Orangeville Monday morning, at the scene of a nasty crash on Route 487, north of Bloomsburg.  By the way, "nasty crash" is one of those annoying TV phrases.  There aren't any pleasant crashes.

Back to my point, I hadn't been close to LifeFlight in a while, and it's an awe inspiring sight.  It's massive and powerful-- an amazing piece of machinery.

Unfortunately, all I had close by at the time was my old camera phone.  I wish I could offer a better photo, but you get the idea.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

About the Cover

Yes, I know it's a train header for the second month in a row.

Thursday morning was bright and sunny, and even though it was cold, I had the itch to take some pictures.

I visited two of my favorite places-- Lackawanna State Park and Steamtown.  I'll share some park photos in upcoming weekends.

I know you've see this engine here before, but it was shining in the springtime sun, and it looked so nice.  I couldn't resist.  The black, gold, and green color scheme is my favorite in the park.