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Capturing history — and a goat
Barnyard animals parade to Reading Terminal Market.

August 10, 2003 By Leslie A. Pappas
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Early risers in LOVE Park were jolted awake at 8 a.m. yesterday when a panicked goat sprinted across the plaza from JFK Boulevard and jumped into the fountain.

"I had to rub my eyes," said John Jackson, 39, of North Philadelphia, who was sitting on a wooden bench in front of the fountain when the goat hopped through the trees, scampered down the steps, and plunged into the water. He thought the animal was a dog — then he saw horns.

"I said, 'I know I don't see what I think I'm seeing.' "

A few minutes earlier, the goat, a 8-month-old female named Ginger, was at Juniper Street next to City Hall, waiting with a horde of barnyard animals to parade down Market Street and start the final day of Reading Terminal Market's 14th annual Pennsylvania Dutch Festival. It was the first year the festival included a parade, which went three blocks on Market Street, one block on 11th Street, and ended at a petting zoo on Filbert Street between 11th and 12th Streets.

Curious onlookers gawked as men in denim overalls and straw hats lined up donkeys, horses, sheep, and Shetland ponies behind carts of chickens, rabbits, quail, and a cranky, squealing 3-foot pig.

"It looks like we're going back 300 years," said Don Davis, 33, of Southwest Philadelphia, who watched the spectacle with two coworkers from the nearby Residence Inn.

A two-wheeled cart of caged chickens had just started east on Market Street when Ginger broke loose, darting around a police officer and into a planter box. Two men, one holding a straw hat onto his head, sprinted to catch the goat, which then bolted down JFK Boulevard.

"Go, Billy, go!" shouted Davis as his coworkers cheered.

Roger Miller, 23, finally caught the frightened animal after it jumped in the fountain at LOVE Park.

"The pool saved me," said Miller, who lives in Leola, Lancaster County, and works at The Dutch Eating Place at Reading Terminal Market. "[She] couldn't run in the pool."

About 50 to 60 Amish and Mennonite farmers and craftsmen participated in the three-day festival, selling quilts, handmade brooms, wooden toys, and traditional foods including cream-filled doughnuts, chicken pot pie, homemade preserves, and cave-aged cheese. Last year, about 27,000 people attended the festivities on Saturday, the only day with animals. (Yesterday's figures were not available.)

Despite the fugitive goat, organizers say they will hold the parade again next year.

"It went better than what we thought," said Alvin Beiler, owner of Beiler's Bakery, who had worried the animals might break loose. "We'll do it again."

Paul Steinke, Reading Terminal Market's general manager, said the inspiration for the parade came from a 1905 photograph of a farmer herding sheep on Broad Street.

"The idea of the parade was, let's harken back to the history of this market," Steinke said, explaining that Market Street got its name from the outdoor meat and vegetable sellers who gathered down its center until 1859, when the city government moved the market indoors to improve sanitation and traffic.

Steinke said the only drawback to this year's four-block parade was that it was too short.

"Now that we've gotten our feet wet, so to speak, we might consider expanding it," he said. ". . . and tethering the goat."

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