Months after relocating, Perry County gnome village is thriving

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MILLERSTOWN, Pa. (WHTM) – The Perry County gnome saga has one more chapter.

After being evicted from Little Buffalo State Park earlier this year, they were re-gnomed in community parks. Months later, they’re thriving.

It takes a village to entertain a 4-year-old and his mom; a gnome village, anyway. Stefanie Thebes couldn’t pass up the chance to explore the homes at Millerstown Area Community Park.

“I had the day off from work, so we just wanted to come out,” she said. “My friend told me about these, so we wanted to come out and see them.”

Her son, Emmett Lightner, just spent the day exploring whatever as she chased him down.

After relocating here, the gnome society is really up-and-coming.

Along what can only be described as Main Street — the asphalt walking path — more homes have popped up. The gnomes founded a church, and they’re even taking steps toward modern plumbing with an outhouse.

“These planning commission jobs are difficult,” Steve Hoke said. He built the homes and the new additions.

“A family friend whose family was donating this fire pit called me and asked if I would make a gnome library to honor her late father,” Hoke said, showing off the red building that was built into the structure of a bench around the fire pit.

The Ray Wertz Memorial Library was born.

“And of course there’s several objects on this library that are specific to that family,” he said, “the little blue bicycle and the library itself.”

Still to come, Hoke said, probably a school.

“No gnome should be left behind,” said Hoke, who’s been fighting off a Lyme Disease diagnosis. “And now that I think about it, there’s got to be a hospital.”

Others are pitching in to help keep the village clean and tidy. They’ve even got a gardener.

“You see kids come by and look for the gnome houses and have smiles on their faces,” Jim Roush said. “I really enjoy that.”

Let’s be honest: Who doesn’t?

“I think the gnomes are happy,” Hoke said. “I think they’re happy with the way they’ve been received in this community and so are we. We’re thrilled with it.”

And, he said, it’s doing what he hoped it would. “It’s working. It’s working out here. Kids are going for a walk.”

“Hopefully, they’ll last a while,” he said.

“I think this will be cool for, like, future generations, too,” Thebes said. “It makes you feel like a kid again. I like it. I like it a lot.”Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download the ABC27 News App and the ABC27 Weather App for your phone and tablet.

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