Proposed convoy route would not include Ephrata

By on September 11, 2019

Proposed convoy route would not include Ephrata

Beginning in 2020, the annual Make-A-Wish Mother’s Day Truck Convoy will no longer traverse the Ephrata area.

Organizers had announced several months ago they lost access to the event’s longtime launching area at Burle Business Park in Lancaster.

The annual Make-A-Wish fundraiser — which includes festivities at the host site followed by the truck rides for critically ill children — had been based at Burle for 28 of its 30-year history.

A new route announced Sept. 7 will now start at the Manheim Auto Auction in Penn Township and go southwest to Mount Joy.

Previously, the nearly 30-mile trip followed Route 222 to Route 322 and through downtown Ephrata.

For many local residents, the day was a special event filled with family, friends, food, and other outdoor activities.

“Our first goal was to find a new home for the convoy,” said Cathy Schladitz, regional events manager for Make-A-Wish for the Philadelphia, Delaware, and Susquehanna Valley chapter. “We knew all along that the route would change to some degree.”

She added that many of the convoy’s top drivers are also from Ephrata and grew up with the popular event.

“Many of them said that they are just happy that the convoy has a new home,” she said. “The thought of losing it was devastating.”

Ephrata Mayor Ralph Mowen, expressed disappointment but was not surprised by the decision.

He had searched for a new route to keep the convoy in the Ephrata area after the organizers contacted him weeks ago.

Residents enjoyed watching the long line of truck coming down Route 222 from the area bridges.

Mowen looked for a place on this side of the county that “could handle 400-500 trucks and all the festivities involved.”

“I could not think of any,” Mowen said. “As much as I hate to lose the convoy, I understand their problem. It will be a great loss for (Ephrata) borough and the northern end of the county.”

Now, Mount Joy, with its lengthy Main Street, is the biggest and most densely developed town the trucks would travel through.

In the end, any attempt to lengthen the convoy from Manheim to Ephrata would create a “logistical nightmare” and “tie up traffic on routes 72, 283, 30 and 222,” he said.
Schladitz added that a task force from the organization did a lot of research in finding a new location. Throughout that process, Manheim Auto Auction came up a lot.

“Manheim Auto Auction opened their arms to us,” she said. “They are partnering with us to really make this a wonderful event.”

Besides having the large space required, it also provides an indoor facility in case of inclement weather.

Organizers spent a weekend and navigated the new route, hoping to maintain much as the old path that drew thousands of spectators, Schladitz said. However, difficulties, including truck restrictions, made it impossible.

The convoy rolls through downtown Ephrata in this file photo.

“They tried as hard as they could to go from Manheim Auto Auction to Ephrata and they just couldn’t make it work and we were heartbroken,” Schladitz said. “We know it was part of the fabric of Ephrata.”

Liz Ackerman, executive director, Northern Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce, empathized with the Make-a-Wish convoy organizers, who had no choice but to change the route.

“As a non-profit organization, they appreciate the fantastic support and the Ephrata community’s love for the event,” she said. “They are committed to try and keep everybody involved.”

She added that organizers are working to secure several official viewing stations which would provide a safe place for Amish buggies and water for their horses for those coming from the Akron, Brownstown, or Ephrata areas.

LCBC Church along Mount Joy Road is one such proposed spot. Schladitz added that these viewing stations would be a fun destination, with great food and entertainment.

“We just want to have safe, great spots along the route to watch the convoy. We love Ephrata. We are so appreciative of the support they’ve given us over the years. We hope it continues, and we hope to see everyone at the convoy.”

Cory Van Brookhoven is a staff writer for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your comments at cvanbrookhoven@lnpnews.com or 717-721-4423. 

4 Comments

  1. Elsie Zimmerman

    September 11, 2019 at 9:22 am

    This will disappoint a lot of viewers from the Ephrata area!! The horse and buggies that are here in Ephrata will not be driving to Manheim.
    People will greatly miss it.

  2. Shannon

    September 12, 2019 at 8:45 am

    This is a family tradition for us as well as many other families. I would hope that this doesnt change i would be so upset.

  3. Lisa

    September 13, 2019 at 12:51 am

    Guess road construction don’t toe up traffic everywhere you turn

  4. Craig H

    September 14, 2019 at 4:13 pm

    Praise God! It’s about time this plague was removed from our town. Now, if only the Ephrata Fair would be terminated.

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