Our view: It’s high time for praise for Hillclimb

Stephen Burnett, of Kingston, Ontario, starts his first run at the Giants Despair Hillclimb in his 2006 Mazda Miata MX5 last weekend at the historic event in Laurel Run. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

Diamonds to the people who brought us the 112th annual Giants Despair Hillclimb, believed to be one of the oldest racing contests in the world. The steep grades and hairpin turns make this thrill enough, but the caliber of cars attracted in recent years and the joy on the faces of spectators marveling at both machines and human skills would brighten almost anyone’s day. It is a textbook example of how tradition helps shape our region for the better.

• Coal to the numerous people who overstepped safety and common sense yet again this July 4th season. And make no mistake, it has become a season, at least in the Wyoming Valley, where the blasts and showers of fiery glitter are heard and seen on almost a nightly basis for several weeks. Yes, the state deserved praise for revamping the byzantine fireworks law to allow more potent poppers, but there are still restrictions for glaringly simple safety reasons. Launching aerial fireworks from your small backyard in a crowded residential section of a the city puts many neighbors needlessly at risk of a stray spark or, worse, serious misfire. But there’s an even simpler reason to temper this explosive enthusiasm: Courtesy. If you must watch things blow up and they are legal, fine. But if you feel a need to hear the booms every night for weeks, if you don’t bother to check the time before striking the match, and if you are so utterly self-absorbed you can’t comprehend that elderly, infants, children and pets may be trying to get vital sleep without interruption or shock from surprise sounds late every night, it’s time to quit the habit cold turkey.

• Diamonds to the Gaslight Theatre’s decision to offer a free performance of “The Taming of the Shrew” production on the River Commons. This space has periodically lamented the lack of use for the park along the Susquehanna River designed precisely for outdoor shows, and the little community theater provided a welcome antidote to that lament. The region is rich with troupes putting on productions in their individual venues. Perhaps this can be a precursor to similar regular outdoor shows by, say, Little Theater of Wilkes-Barre, Music Box Dinner Playhouse or even the companies farther out in Nuangola, Hazleton and Bloomsburg. It would be a chance to bring their talents to a new location for a single showing and to advertise their organization’s contributions to the region’s art scene.

• Coal to Polka King and Ponzi prince Jan Lewan for his attempted comeback via rebirth of the Polka Party at Mount Airy Casino Resort. Everyone deserves a second chance. But Lewan bilked people for millions in an investment scam and, perhaps most importantly, did so repeatedly. The odds are extraordinarily high that, barring some platinum record sales of polka music, he will never pay back the money he took, even though he has served his prison time. This return is as likely to open old, deep wounds as it is to entertain. At age 77, it would be best if he lived a quiet, non-public life.

Stephen Burnett, of Kingston, Ontario, starts his first run at the Giants Despair Hillclimb in his 2006 Mazda Miata MX5 last weekend at the historic event in Laurel Run.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_TTL070818Hillclimb_2-1.jpgStephen Burnett, of Kingston, Ontario, starts his first run at the Giants Despair Hillclimb in his 2006 Mazda Miata MX5 last weekend at the historic event in Laurel Run. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader