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Harrisburg, Pennsylvania — For years, the Pennsylvania Society has been a marquee event for state politicians and the wealthy extraordinary interests seeking something from them. Necktie Isoware, and an overtime party.
Good government groups have criticized the event as a microcosm of the flashy tycoon at best, and at worst, everything that is bad for politics. But anyone who is (or wants to be) someone in state politics, every December, has an annual three-day backslap, power mediation, and much less frequent policy-making. Never miss a pilgrimage.
But this year, the Pennsylvania Society (scheduled for this weekend) is expected to look and feel very different, says organizers, attendees, and others. Attendance has declined and long-standing events such as receptions by law firms and corporate groups have been completely integrated or canceled.
According to the organizers, one of the reasons for this year’s reduced edition is a pandemic that has curtailed interest in travel and crowded indoor gatherings. Another is the change in the main location of recent events from Waldorf Astoria’s renowned ballroom to the much more subdued party room at Midtown Hilton. Attendees have openly complained that the Pennsylvania Society has lost its appeal since Waldorf was closed due to multi-year refurbishment.
However, there are bigger and more existential questions about changing venues and coordinating pandemics. Is the Pennsylvania Association an anachronism?
President Edward J. Sheehan Jr. doesn’t think so. He said in an interview that unity underpins the work and mission of society.
“We want diversity and inclusiveness,” said Sheehan, president and CEO of Concurrent Technologies Corporation, a Johnstown-based applied science research and development organization. “One way to do that is to get people together to discuss and exchange ideas.”
The Pennsylvania Society dates back to 1899, according to the organization. Website.. That year, James Bar Ferry of Pennsylvania, who then lived in New York City, invited 55 other transplants to eat at Waldorf Astoria. His goal is to unite Pennsylvanians “with a bond of friendship and dedication to their home country or adoption, whether at home or away.”
They meet for dinner at the same time and place each year, initially known as the Pennsylvania Society of New York.
The rally has grown over the years and has been attended by celebrities such as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Today, the dinner is technically a weekend highlight, but overtaken by invitational fundraising, receptions, and other events, the rally has turned into a whirlwind three-day Schmoosfest. Get ridiculed by good government activists.
Eric Epstein, co-founder of Rock the Capital, a nonpartisan good political group, called the event “a glorious, paid winter carnival.”
“We need less self-interest and more general good, and we need to focus on the Pennsylvania issue, not the New York political parties,” Epstein said. “We need to put society on the ice and unleash democracy.”
Sheehan does not agree.
He said the New York Supper is one of the biggest fundraising activities for society, and the proceeds allow the group and its partners to award college scholarships to high school students in Pennsylvania.
Sheehan also said that the association recognizes the outstanding service of residents of Pennsylvania with a gold medal award each year. This year Philadelphia Surgeon Alastanford The recipient.
He said that the spirit of inclusion defines the mission and events of society.
“Supper is really the center of the weekend,” he said.
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The proud Pennsylvania Society Gala faces diminished interest | Spotlight Pa
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