Photo Essay: An Amish Vacation Tradition

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A young girl rides her bike past a mural in Pinecraft Park.Photographs by Dina Litovsky / Redux for The New Yorker

17 April 2018  | Alice Gregoy: text Dian Litovsky: Photos | The New Yorker

Each winter, for close to a century now, hundreds of Amish and Mennonite families have travelled from their homes in icy quarters of the U.S. and Canada to Pinecraft, a small, sunny neighborhood in Sarasota, Florida.

Arriving on chartered buses specializing in the transportation of “Plain people” from areas such as Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Holmes County, Ohio, they rent modest bungalows and stay for weeks, or sometimes months, at a time. It’s vacation. For many, it’s the one time of the year that they spend with people from communities other than their own.

Originally drawn to Pinecraft’s affordable real-estate prices and off-season farming potential, the first Amish families began coming in the mid-nineteen-twenties, with the idea of growing celery.

They found the soil disappointing, but not the comparatively languid life style. Now, without barns to raise or cows to milk or scrapple to prepare, the typically stringent rules of Anabaptist life are somewhat suspended in Pinecraft, an inland neighborhood that in recent decades has expanded to more than two hundred and eighty acres.

Earrings, usually forbidden, can be seen glittering from beneath white bonnets, and houses are outfitted with satellite dishes. Horses and buggies are nowhere to be seen, but adult-sized tricycles abound. Swimming, volleyball, and shuffleboard are encouraged; ice-cream cones are a nightly ritual.

The mid-afternoon arrivals and departures of buses, which run from October through the end of April, attract cheering crowds. Passengers say their hellos and goodbyes to Pinecraft, which, as the photographer Dina Litovsky captured for The New Yorker  in February, is a place of brief leisure for people who consider work to be sacred.

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Young women wait at the bus stop.

 

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A family rides bikes near Pinecraft Park, where the community gathers on weekends for music and a fish-fry dinner.

 

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The front yard of a family home.

 

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Two women pass by a mural depicting the ideal of the Amish life back home.

 

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The local ice-cream shop is a popular hangout after dark.

 

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The nightly women’s volleyball game is the community’s main spectacle.

 

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In Pinecraft, the typically stringent rules of Anabaptist life are somewhat suspended.

 

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Spectators watch the nightly volleyball game.

 

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On early Saturday evenings, both the Amish community and local Florida residents gather together at the weekly fish fry.

 

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The first all-female Mennonite bocce-ball game in Pinecraft. The players’ husbands stand on the side to watch and cheer.

 

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Women prepare food at the fish fry.

 

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A young couple and their son enjoy the late-afternoon sun.

 

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A woman rides a tricycle with her three children.

 

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A woman checks out the bedroom of a house about to be sold at auction.

 

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A family is ready to return home on a chartered bus that will travel to Ohio and then to Idaho.

 

Original Link: Where the Amish Go on Vacation

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James Porteous

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