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Community art hub Waldo’s celebrates multiple milestones

Gettysburg’s local non-profit arts organization celebrated its fifth, sixth, and eighth birthdays Saturday June 12.

Waldo’s and Company has been a staple of the Gettysburg community, dedicated to being an inclusive meeting place for artistic expression and providing an oasis for creativity since 2013, according to Chris Lauer, director and board president.

Previously located on Stratton Street (distinguished by its enormous ocean wave mural) Waldo’s has grown steadily over the years in providing an artistic atmosphere for the entire community, he said.

The arts organization was celebrating last year’s fifth anniversary postponed due to the pandemic, six years at the current haven on Lincoln Square and eight years total in Gettysburg, Lauer said.  

All day Saturday, the arts organization below Lark-A Modern Marketplace was a hub of live music, games, and homemade cupcakes.

Smashing open a celebratory pinata, Waldo’s patrons and personnel released months of social distancing and celebrated the future of opening the space to the community together again.

Waldo’s patrons listen to brother duo, Cory and Jordan Dandy of the band Dandy in celebration of Waldo’s and Company’s birthday June 12.

Exceeding its goal of raising $2,500, by the end of Waldo’s birthday bonanza collected nearly $3,500 in donations, according to Lauer.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of Waldo’s, and through the last year in particular a solid team of board members and fifty volunteers hit the ground running fundraising in-house coffee roast subscriptions and organizing social media, according to Lauer.

“It’s a testament to the other people on the team. Especially for an organization this young, we were pretty prepared for a pandemic,” he said.

 “We made it through a worldwide pandemic. I think we’re going to be here a while,” he said.

A proclaimed “gym membership for artists,” Waldo’s offers membership to its trade shop studios, including ceramic, printing, and photography darkrooms, Lauer said.

In addition to studios, classrooms and an art gallery, Waldo’s is proud to offer live-music venues, its own coffee roaster, and a donation-based coffee/soda bar.

Inclusion is the name of Waldo’s game, according to Lauer. The most important aspect is you do not have to be anything resembling an artist to enjoy Waldo’s. 

“This is not an exclusive place or a member’s only space,” he said.

“Of course, for artists who need equipment, we are here,” he said, but for anyone who needs a cup of fresh coffee, a place to meet new friends, a used-book, or a place to unwind, Waldo’s is a space available for you.

Waldo’s and Company is open Wednesday-Friday 11 a.m.- 11 p.m. and Saturday  8 a.m.- 11 p.m.

Accessible hours are important for social places like Waldo’s to be a third place between home and work or school and to learn about the community, Lauer said.

“I’m proud to see kids grow up here and have this be their experience. I had a similar one growing up and it was pretty formulative for me,” he said.

Waldo’s is excited to kick off summer art classes and is the place to be on Gettysburg First Fridays for art gallery openings and meeting local artists, according to Lauer.

To find Waldo’s, drop down the basement steps of Lark Gifts located at 17 Lincoln Square or follow the hand-printed wooden sign down Racehorse Alley.

Waldo’s information can be found online and on social media including Facebook and Instagram.

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A.L. Grabenstein, reporter, is a graduate of Philadelphia's La Salle University with a B.A in Communication and has been a journalist since 2016. She has reported for the Gettysburg Times and the Times Herald in Norristown, PA. Grabenstein moved to Gettysburg from Montgomery County in 2019. She was born in San Antonio, TX., and previously lived in Virginia, and North Carolina. Grabenstein is actively involved in the borough of Gettysburg and loves giving voices to the local community.

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