Teams clad in protective goggles scatter into a mountain field thick with laurel, rhododendron, and brier as they seek cover, their markers locked and loaded. Hearing paintballs whiz through the brush, a player dives into prone position. Adjusting her goggles after colliding with the ground, the combatant freezes, notices the silhouette of a whitetail deer crouched in the brush just yards away, and lets down her guard long enough to appreciate the moment before taking new aim.
At Pocono Mountain Paintball, players step onto 12 fields—including three scenario fields—ranging from untouched natural terrain to 1,700 feet of trenches and sandbag bunkers. To maximize players' game time, Pocono's staff maintains a reservation system that limits the fields to 100 players per day. Further touches include camouflage overall rentals, an online FAQ with participant advice, and changing rooms with hot showers so players can spruce up before meeting Mom for a post-game debriefing. Pocono's crew also coordinates rafting, biking, and kayaking packages through partner company Whitewater Rafting Adventures.
In 2002, Mike Southard took a leap of faith worthy of The Dukes of Hazzard. He left a career in the elevator industry and decided to pursue his true passion: stock-car driving. Southard launched Try It Racing and On Track Racing Experience, determined to share with others the thrill he had felt many times in the victory lane of late-model stock-car races. His business has grown from a few humble events and clients each year to a fully packed schedule at some of the country's longest running and most renowned racetracks. Some things haven't changed, however—you can still find Southard behind the wheel of the two-seat ride-along car, taking patrons around curves and straightaways at top speed.
Adrenaline fiends satisfy their cravings while driving or riding around tracks such as Orange County Speedway, where industry legends Jeff Gordon and Scott Riggs have burned their share of rubber. A professional photographer and in-car video cameras can capture the excitement at each event, memorializing guests' wide-open eyes, exhilarated smiles, and high-intensity games of I Spy.
Every year, as the snow starts falling, the town of Jim Thorpe dusts off a charming sense of nostalgia and channels the holiday spirit for their Olde Time Christmas celebration. A parade at the end of November heralds the tree lighting, which in turn kicks off weekends of lights, stage plays, and Victorian touches that evoke A Christmas Carol without all of the blood-thirsty aliens Dickens was so fond of. Historic mansions combine with small-town elegance to create an ideal tableau for the festival, which hosts events that include a gingerbread house contest, historic ghost walks, and a live nativity. Kids hop on a train with Santa while others settle in for a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, sending the staccato of clipping and clopping through the streets. Dulcet notes from a choir glide through the air at local churches while patrons walk to and fro amongst local businesses and a stand of handmade wreaths.
While peering through the glass-covered hole in the floor of Flow Bar and Restaurant, you may catch a glimpse of a featured item on next week's menu swimming through the underground Mauch Chunk Creek. Executive chef Zachary Pelliccio—whose farm-based upbringing informs his ultra-fresh fare—procures produce and earthy high-fives from the hands of Lehigh Valley and Pocono-area farmers as well as meat, poultry, and eggs from the likes of Spring Mountain Farms of Lehighton. Pelliccio crafts starters such as a duck rillette with cranberry and green-tea preserves and large plates including a grass-fed burger on house-baked brioche, realizing the edible portion of the renovation dream of co-owners Victor Stabin and Joan Morykin. The husband-and-wife team bought the circa-1850 stone building in 2004. Temporarily trading his paintbrushes and her journalist's laptop for a hammer and nails, Stabin and Morykin and a team of artisans conducted a overhaul lasting four years. The historic space has been a wire mill, silk mill, and toy factory, and now also houses art classes and galleries featuring the work of local artists, including Stabin himself. One gallery is devoted to encouraging children's creativity and has showcased the talents of the couple's two young daughters.