Many communities, regardless of size, have a claim to fame.
Philadelphia conjures thoughts of cheesesteaks. Hershey is synonymous with chocolate. Lebanon means bologna (if you’re from Pennsylvania). And if you dig a little deeper among the smaller towns in Lebanon County you get Fredericksburg, which some locals call the “Chicken Capital of the World” thanks to its multiple chicken processing plants.
And now Mount Zion, a really small Lebanon County community that might not even appear on a map, has a new claim to fame like no other — the wallaby.
That’s right, a marsupial from Down Under managed to give little Mount Zion some big statewide, even nationwide, attention.
I was sitting in my church in Mount Zion on Sunday, Aug. 15, when my pastor asked if anyone had any announcements to share. One member of my congregation raised her hand and told us that she saw a kangaroo in our parking lot the day before.
She said her immediate thought was, “Is it time to build an ark?” And with Hurricane Ida in the news, maybe an ark would have been a good idea.
But as for the wallaby, which is very similar to a kangaroo but smaller, he soon hopped into everyone’s hearts in the community and beyond.
Sightings of the wallaby were being reported by many residents in Mount Zion, with no one knowing where the creature came from or how he got there.
That video was viewed 9,000 times and shared almost 200 times. People certainly were interested in an Australia native hopping around Lebanon County farm fields.
And I was one of those very interested people.
Since we’re still working from home, I thought about spending a few days working from my church’s social hall to try and catch a glimpse of this seemingly once in a lifetime visitor.
But before I was able to meet my new furry friend, the Pennsylvania Game Commission was able to capture him and take him to a wildlife facility.
But my church and all of Mount Zion is still hopping with all the excitement.
In the over 20 years of attending church in Mount Zion, nothing this thrilling has ever happened in the tiny town — at least nothing that stands out in my memory.
What a truly wild way to get put on the map.
So, if you take any lesson from this, maybe just expect the unexpected. You never know what’s going to hop along in life.
I wish Mount Zion’s wallaby friend all the best at his new wildlife facility home. We will absolutely never forget him.
Hoppy trails, wallaby!