Harrisburg ranked among friendliest in nation

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Harrisburg is among the friendliest small cities in America. According to a real estate website, the capital city has much to offer including a well lit tree.

Anticipation built as the countdown was on inside City Hall to light this year’s tree for the holiday season.

“I see smiles everywhere!,” Mayor Eric Papenfuse shouted.

The mayor noticed the good cheer, sparkling smiles and the fun everyone was having. The real estate website Movoto believes that’s the norm in this town.

Harrisburg was ranked fifth “Friendliest Small City” in America by Movoto in a recent study. The website said they crunched statistics and compared them with social aspects offered in small cities across the nation.

Madona Awotwi agreed with Harrisburg’s placement.

“I believe that Harrisburg is full of friendly people,” she said. “We are a city on the rise.”

One woman we spoke with scoffed at the idea, as did others on Facebook who pointed out the city’s violent crime. Movoto didn’t give Harrisburg a full pass. Even in the description they noted the violent crimes alone Harrisburg was in the bottom of the list.

What the website did argue was Harrisburg’s good outweighed the bad.

Movoto said the city’s bar scene was ranked third in the nation. Most agree Downtown nightlife is changing for the better while nightlife in Midtown is expanding.

Harrisburg’s religious outlets ranked second in the nation, with one for every 503 residents. The city has a sizable Muslim, Jewish, Protestant and Catholic populations among Buddhists and Atheists..

Movoto argued Harrisburg had many opportunities to aid in quality of life, especially for those raising a family, and the website mentioned the people were strong for “weathering the storm”, outlasting the recession and a city financial disparity; a quality Papenfuse believes holds true and defines city residents.

“It’s a sign of how much we embrace everyone in our community,” he said. “I think it’s that openness of spirit, that positiveness, that willing to persevere even amidst adversity which really defines Harrisburg.”

The city was also tops in the nation for charitable giving. Movoto said people gave an average of 5.3 percent of their annual pay to charity. Giant Foods donated Harrisburg’s City Hall tree and announced they will donate 250 turkeys to various city organizations to dish out to needy families for Christmas.

Harrisburg was one of three capital cities on Movoto’s list. With the various museums, Broad Street Market, summer festivals, Susquehanna River fun, Senators baseball, and annual parades – Harrisburg is being recognized for a city that welcomes outsiders.

Caridad Badillo experiences that odd transition first hand.

“Coming from New York City, when I first moved here, everybody used to say ‘hello,’ and I was like ‘these people, I don’t know these people,’ ” she said.

Then Badillo noted she quickly became used to the warmer side of Harrisburg.

“Can’t be too friendly, you know!.” she said laughing.


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