Looking for inside information about New Hope? Meet Annette.
I’ve seen Annette before. In fact, if you ever visited New Hope PA, like many others who seek the perfect weekend getaway, there is a good chance you have seen her as well. At her job, as the Visitor Center Coordinator, just like the monumental historic building she works in, Annette Katona Rosenberg has become a landmark. Visitors walk into the center not only to gather tourist information but also to engage in a chat, to catch up on the latest local news and to gossip about the quaint, hippie river town she represents. Annette can tell you anything about the area, from which shows are currently running at the Bucks County Playhouse to how suitable the river conditions are for kayaking. She can name the art shows and events in town this week, report on the latest celeb sightings and tell you where you can satisfy your current culinary craving within walking distance.
Annette is an abundance of information; however, when I ask her to tell me a bit about herself, she blushes and smiles, revealing that while she is accustomed to sharing information about anything and everyone in this town, when it comes to herself, not so much.
“I always knew I wanted to work in tourism. I love to meet and talk to people from around the world”, she explains. Annette began her career in tourism doing sales for the Holiday Inn in New Hope (now the Roadway Inn). Back in the 80’s, having been raised Catholic in Willow Grove and attended the Archbishop Wood High School, the New Hope counterculture was not the obvious career path for her. But after the first day on the job, she immediately felt the connection to the town and knew immediately that “this is home.“
Her job was to sell New Hope as a tourist destination, a mission that has not changed much throughout her career. “I fell in love with this place, so it wasn’t hard for me to convince people to come here.” As the years passed, she met her husband and settled in town and her connection to New Hope grew stronger. Her New Hope passion pushed her to be entrepreneurial and open several businesses in town, including a store called “The Tourist Trap” that offered souvenirs, a flavored pretzel store, and a hotdog store called “Weenie World “. But that entrepreneurial period ended when her building sold and she no longer could house her ventures there. At that point, Annette took on the job doing sales for Peddler’s Village, the nearby shopping and restaurant center, once again taking on the role of the region’s ambassador.
With time, Annette realized she missed what got her started here to begin with, being in the heart of it all, meeting folks from all sorts of life, being where the action and the drama were unfolding. . . So one day she walked over to the renowned Bucks County Playhouse, knocked on the doors and announced: “You have to hire me”. And they did. When the Playhouse eventually took over the visitors’ center, it was only natural that Annette would lead and manage it.
When In New Hope, Do as the Locals
Annets’s guide to New Hope local living
at the Bucks county playhouse, A great workshop for actors, writers and directors who want to sharpen their skills.
No Where Else But New Hope
Theater Boot Camp at the Bucks county playhouse, A great workshop for actors, writers and directors who want to sharpen their skills.
Ghost Tours of New Hope, featuring lots of fun and surprising history.
The loktender’s house on the canal, featuring life at the lock in 1832, it’s a great free activity.
The small, local shops on main street New Hope. No chain stores were allowed here.
To walk across the bridge to Lambertville NJ
Live Like a Local
Parking can get challenging at times. If you forget to put money in the meter it would only take few minutes until you get a parking ticket. The best thing to do -get the parkmobile parking app and use it!
The New Hope Visitors’ Center is located on the corner of S. Main and Mechanic Streets, in a seventeenth century, brick and mortar building that served as the original town hall, when the town was still called “Wells Ferry”. In this building, town meetings were held, marriages were performed, the town police station was housed and even a local jailhouse was kept to hold the area thugs.
Even today, after all these years, when Annette talks about her town, her eyes light up. “I love the people and the small community feeling where everybody knows one other and actually cares about what is happening here. I am thankful to live in a place with so much history, art, music, nature, culture and openness.” In her eyes, the town stands out because it is so eclectic. “You can meet artists, writers and musicians and stage artists of any genre. The playhouse is an amazing attraction, with its unique shows and great talents that début on stage here before making it to Broadway. Plays like “Barefoot in the Park”, actors like Robert Redford and Grace Kelly, Dick Van Dyke, Liza Minnelli, Danny Devito to name a few have started right here in New Hope. You can feel the history everywhere. And speaking of history, no wonder the town is haunted.
“Haunted? What do you mean?”
“There are many rumors and unconfirmed ghost sightings in town. You can even go on a ghost tour and potentially encounter spirits and soldier figures.” Annette says while maintaining a poker face, making it hard for me to tell how serious she is or whether she believes what she is telling me. “During the revolutionary war, the Logan Inn’s basement was turned into a makeshift hospital. Many soldiers died here, and some people believe that their spirits have never left town.”
“Assuming this is my first visit to New Hope and ghosts freak me out, what would you say are the top five must-see attractions to see and do?”
Annette looks reluctant to narrow it down to only five, but my insistence wins after she makes sure to note that it’s impossible to choose the best attractions. “If I have to, so I would say that catching a show at the Bucks County Playhouse is a must. Then there is the Train ride, I on an old steam train that takes you into the nearby countryside and back in time, giving you a taste of the region, the history and a fun narration. The Locktender’s House museum, located on the sixty miles long Delaware Canal provides demonstrations and tells the history of barge transportation through this area. And once you have done all that, it’s time for some local shopping and dining which New Hope is known for. The shops here feature unique, crafted items that you can’t find anywhere else. The restaurants, many of which have been here for decades, attract people from afar. And if you can’t find what you are looking for in New Hope, you can just cross over the bridge to Lambertville, by foot, and enjoy a town known for its antiques shops and galleries. Everyone can find something here that will interest them.”
“What kind of questions do people ask you?”
“The most common question people ask is “where is the bathroom?” admits Annette with a smile, “but many people are interested in the information we have to offer. Some people are forthcoming and will start to chat. This is how I get to meet interesting people from all sorts of life and from around the world.”
You must have met thousands of people from around the world; anyone in particular that stands out in your memory?
“Of course you never know in advance who you are going to meet each day. It could be a couple on a romantic weekend looking for a quiet place to dine, a family seeking fun activities to do with kids, or one of the Harley Davidson bikers who love to ride through town and hang out here on weekends maybe looking to get yet another tattoo in one of the local tattoo parlors we have here.” But there was one guy that Annette clearly recalls that tops them all. “One day, a strange fellow walked in here, banged his fists on the counter and demanded to know, ‘where can a guy like me meet a woman in this town?’. This question had never come up and was clearly not my forte, but without missing a beat, I confidently told him that he was sure to find his match here, no matter what type of woman might be his soulmate, because in New Hope, we really do have so many kinds of people . . . I mentioned that this town is eclectic right?”
To conclude our talk and since Annette is the unofficial ambassador of New Hope, I was curious to know who she might invite for a VIP visit to New Hope if she could pick anyone at all. The answer really surprised me.
“I would love to have George Washington come over, to show him how far we have come around here, how diversity, love of the town and sincere caring for one another, wins.”
As I am about to leave the visitor center, Annette hands me a pile of brochures and pamphlets. She promises to connect me to more people to interview and encourages me to contact her for any further questions I may have. I hesitate a bit and then ask, “So be straight with me Annette, about the ghosts, you were joking, right?”
She smiles sheepishly and answers,“You know what, on second thought, some questions are better left unanswered.“
Click to visit the New Hope visitor center online