Ketchum caught in the spotlight

By on May 31, 2018

Lititz resident wins Lancaster Chamber’s Small Businessperson of the Year

Movie theater operator Penn Ketchum knows a bit about imagination and how dreams come true on the big screen.

But even he never fancied himself on center stage and recognized at the Lancaster Chamber’s 146th Annual Dinner as its Small Businessperson of the Year on May 23.

“I have attended the Chamber Dinner many times and I can honestly say I never even dreamt that I could be one of “those” people getting recognized by The Chamber. The thought never crossed my mind. I always thought the Awards were for the grown ups, so for a kid like me to be recognized was a real thrill and quite an honor.” The Lititz resident praised his business partners whom make up the ownership of Penn Cinema, where his title is managing partner.

“Penn Cinema would no way be what it is today without my partners &tstr; the Bylers, the Tuccis, my whole family and all our friends who have helped us in countless ways make this a special place.” The icing on the cake for Penn and his family was meeting the Chamber Dinner’s guest speaker Carson Wentz, quarterback of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.

“It was wonderful to have my family with me, it was a wonderful night,” he said. “Surprisingly moving to be honest. I was more emotional that I would have thought.” Meeting Wentz and introducing him to his father Peter Ketchum and his daughters Kayla and Marley truly was a special moment, he admitted. Afterall, not eveyone can boast about being congratulated by a world champion.

 Pictured at Lancaster Chamber of Commerce dinner and awards ceremony are (from left to right) Kayla Ketchum, a Warwick High School junior; Marley Ketchum, a sophomore at the University of Delaware; Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback; Penn Ketchum, and his father Peter Ketchum.

“I got to meet Carson Wentz and chat him up a quick second while we were waiting for our picture to be taken,” Penn said. “He was very gracious and told me congratulations on my award. What an honor to have a champion like him say congratulations to me.” Ketchum co-founded Penn Cinema, which opened near Lancaster Airport in 2006 as a 10-screen complex and now has 14 screens plus an IMAX theater. It also developed 14 screens plus an IMAX theater in Wilmington, Delaware, and is opening two theaters in Montgomery County.

In addition, Ketchum and his wife Aimee recently revived the ailing Ephrata Main Theatre, reopening it as The New Main. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Penn met his wife Aimee on the first day of school at Susquehanna University. She was from Manheim so naturally he moved to Lancaster County after college. Ketchum earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Penn State which he put to good use by opening up Penn Cinema in 2006 after a stint in county government. Penn has long been a champion of Lititz and included his hometown while accepting his award.

“I love Lititz, it is where I’m raising my family, it is where I like most to be and so yeah, going up on stage I felt a little bit like I was representing Lititz when I accepted this award and that makes me so happy,” he said. “It puts the biggest smile on my face. I was grinning and laughing all night long.”

Penn said winning the award triggered a lot of “walks down memory lane” which included the kids who’ve worked at the theater while going to school over the years.”

“I think often about all the kids we call ‘PC Alumni’… kids who have worked for us in the past and have now moved on to bigger and better things,” he said. “I’m so happy for them and I think of their families who I still see around town. They’re great and this award triggered a lot of walks down memory lane which was a lot of fun for me.” Penn currently serves as vice president of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Theater Owner’s Association. He also sits on the Lancaster Campus Advisory Committee for HACC as well as the Student Activities Committee for the Warwick School District. He has served on a variety of other community boards and committees despite his well-earned dislike of “meetings,” according to the Chamber

Penn said he deeply appreciates the special honor to be recognized by The Chamber.

“I am a lucky guy to be able to do what I love and do so in a way that helps my community. For me that’s what it’s all about.” “It was wonderful to have my family with me, it was a wonderful night. Surprisingly moving to be honest. I was more emotional that I would have thought.”

Patrick Burns is news editor and social media editor for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at or at 717-721-4455. 

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