"To have the opportunities not just for vacation, but for living and for work—it’s just something you’re not going to see other places.”
For Holly Przasnyski, the Poconos were an escape from the bustle of Philadelphia and the suburbs. The serenity of the mountains drew her all year round, from summer vacations relaxing by Indian Mountain Lake to winter ski trips to the slopes. But she started wondering, what if the Poconos could be more than just a getaway? She ultimately decided to do what most people only dream of doing. She left behind the city and made her go-to vacation spot into her permanent home.
Przasnyski discovered a place where she could live, work and play, all rolled into one. Always eager to give back to the community, she took a position at the Chamber of the Northern Poconos and quickly rose to the role of Executive Director. Her career takes her all throughout the charming towns, pristine lakes and sprawling countryside of Wayne and Pike Counties.
Now that brighter days are on the horizon, Przasnyski is busy helping new businesses get off the ground, rekindling community events and making the area the best it can be for tourists and residents alike. We caught up with her at The Hawley Hub to talk more about her story and how she came to call NEPA her home.
How long have you lived in NEPA?
About three years.
What brought you to NEPA?
We used to vacation in the Poconos, so the whole getting away from everything and the concept of being able to live on vacation was awesome. When we were thinking about it, we were like, why not take the risk? Take the chance, because I don’t want to regret it for the rest of my life. And I couldn’t be happier with my move.
Did anything surprise you about NEPA?
How friendly the people are and how much slower it is. I feel like being out here is more like when I was a kid. Now when you go to the Philadelphia area or the suburbs of Philly, it’s a lot more advanced, and the kids are growing up a lot faster. Here, I feel like kids get to be kids.
What do you love about your town?
Oh gosh, there’s so much. I love that you get to know so many of the people in your area. It’s more small towns, so you see those familiar faces on the street. And living in a place where people vacation is really cool. You get to be there 365 days a year.
Do you have a favorite NEPA restaurant?
Oh, that’s a hard one. I don’t think I do. It’s amazing how many really good restaurants there are up here, so it really depends on what you’re in the mood for. With as many people who are here now, even from New York and Philadelphia, they bring in these new flavors. It’s really hard to pick.
What’s your favorite thing to do in NEPA?
I like to hang out with my daughter. We swim, we shop, we do all the typically tourist-y stuff. It’s great. And I have a lot of animals. Dogs, cats, reptiles, rodents. [laughs] We have 12 animals in our house, so we have a little bit of it all. But I do a lot of rescue work, a lot of animal care and all of that.
What’s next for you?
Our biggest event we have coming up is Wally Lake Fest at the end of August. We recently took that over, so we are hoping to make it just as great, if not better, than it’s been before. We get to have Wallypalooza back, so we’ll have the bands on the water. There are going to be activities all throughout downtown Hawley and all around the lake. It’s going to be really cool. We’re bringing the shuttle busses back to make it easier for people to get everywhere. There are tons of crafters and shopping. It’s a really unique experience that you don’t really see places. You can party on the lake and on the land.
Where do you see NEPA heading in the future?
I think the word is “growth.” We’re seeing that these small towns are starting to get recognized more and more. It’s only helping to bring people who have left back and bring new people to the area. We see new businesses opening up left and right, which is fantastic to see after COVID. I think that the more that we have, the more that we can offer, the more we’ll see people start to appreciate it.
There’s nothing like it. There are other places that have lakes. There are other places that have beaches. But to get the small-town feel, to be able to have the experiences that you have here in NEPA and to have the opportunities not just for vacation, but for living and for work—it’s just something you’re not going to see other places.