Happy Hour is on!

Hey, folks – the Happy Hour is on at 5 pm at The Gallery, 254 E. High Street. My sources tell me there are some parking spots across the street, in the lot at Charlotte/High and behind the New York Plaza building (Penn/High). Give yourself some extra time. No rush – we’ll be there until 7:30. See you then!

THE FROG PRINCE comes to Tri-PAC

Photo courtesy of Tri-PAC
This weekend bring the whole family to this clever and charming musical rendition of the classic fairy tale for children of all ages! THE FROG PRINCE runs for ONE WEEKEND ONLY at the Tri-County Performing Arts Center, 245 E. High Street, Pottstown. Produced from an original script by Janet Stimson and Debbie Stimson-Snow, with music arranged by Aaron Otheim, this retelling of the tale will appeal to adults as well as children.

Here’s the story line: A beautiful but spoiled Princess reluctantly befriends Zog the Frog after dropping a golden ball into his well. Through a series of challenges between the Princess, Zog, and the Court Jester (whose jest, unfortunately, has lost its zest), the Princess brings Zog to Court “for dinner”. A zany time ensues, with the Court Chef and Butcher trying to serve Zog up AS dinner rather than serve him DURING dinner.

There is a no nonsense Queen, a loving but misguided King, a group of singing Courtiers, and of course the crazy antics of Zog and the Jester. THE FROG PRINCE is a humorous romp that folds themes of tolerance and understanding into an enchanting story book and musical score, for the enjoyment of all ages.

Photo courtesy of Tri-PAC

This show runs for three performances only this weekend, Saturday January 29th at 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM and Sunday January 30th at 3:00 PM. This production is also available for school groups and clubs at the Tri-PAC or off-site from February through May.

Tickets are on sale now at www.tripac.org. Ticket prices are $13 for children 12 and under, $15 for students and seniors, and $17 for adults. Groups of 10 or more receive $2 off per ticket when purchased in a single transaction. Don’t miss the chance to see rollicking play, one weekend only at the Tri-County Performing Arts Center.

Village Production/The Tri-County Performing Arts Center is a dynamic performing arts organization founded in 2001 by a dedicated team of performing artists, arts educators, and area residents who dreamed of creating new and highly accessible performing arts opportunities for the community. Village Productions seeks to strengthen community, inspire creative exploration, educate, and entertain, through the presentation of quality performing arts events and educational opportunities geared toward a diverse audience.

Positively!Pottstown Happy Hour this Friday

Hi, Folks —

It’s 2011 and time to re-connect, catch up, and throw ourselves anew into this crazy endeavor known as the revitalization of Pottstown. 🙂

The next Positively!Pottstown Happy Hour is this Friday, Jan. 28th at The Gallery on High at 254 E. High Street. The fun starts at 5:01 pm and goes until 7:30 pm. We’ve extended the event by a half-hour for those who are fighting Friday night traffic to attend. Thank you to Erika Hornburg-Cooper and Cathy Paretti for welcoming us into their space!

We’re about 50-strong at this point, and it’s not too late to send an email to positivelypottstown@gmail.com and say you plan on stopping by. Just bring yourself, a friend or two, a smile, and $5/person to cover food; any profits will go to The Gallery. We’ll be featuring cornbread muffins and wings from Martha’s Famous at 259 E. High Street.

This Friday night, warm up with cool art and cool people at The Gallery — see you then!

Pushing back against Ol’ Man Winter

It’s the end of the third week of January. It snowed again last night. It’s windy and bitterly cold out, and you might be thinking, “This is turning out to be a long winter. How am I going to survive?” Why not bundle up and head out to some of Pottstown’s fine restaurants this weekend to carve out some warm space and good memories with family and friends?

Feel like dancing away all that energy from being cooped up with kids who were home from school? Line up a sitter and call everyone you know, set the time, and crash The Brickhouse; they’ve got a dj every Friday and Saturday night.

You can also bust a move at Sunnybrook Ballroom with DJ Bruce Miller from 7-11 pm on Saturday night.

Get on Facebook and organize an impromptu and affordable “parents with kids” gathering at The Very Best. Or maybe it’s “dads with kids” or “moms with kids” so at least one of you can go the gym or run an errand or watch a basketball game in peace!

In the mood for sports, casual drinks, no fuss? Stop in at Jack Cassidy’s Irish Pub, Frankie & Johnnie’s or The Pourhouse.

For a more intimate dining experience, call ahead to Funky Lil’ Kitchen, Henry’s Cafe or Juan Carlos Fine Mexican to see if they can seat you.

Book groups, knitting groups, play groups – why not plan your next get-together at Churchills?

Are you or any of your kids a history buff? Check out this Sunday’s lecture by historian Dan Graham at Pottsgrove Manor (details on the calendar page). He’ll be talking about John Potts, Jr.: Ironmaster, Judge, Loyalist. Unlike the other children of John and Ruth Potts, this son supported the Crown during the American Revolution, and it cost him his property, wealth and standing in the community. The talk starts at 1 pm.

The key to breaking out of a mid-winter rut is to find an activity and food to share with people you love. With so many options close to home, it shouldn’t be hard to do. 🙂

WPAZ –Community Radio for Pottstown

Before I tell you all about WPAZ and their really cool vision for what community radio is going to be in Pottstown, I have to make a confession:  I am a total radio geek. I love radio.  Don’t ever ask me who is on Dancing with the Stars or American Idol because I actually have no idea when or where to find those shows.  But, if you want to know what’s on NPR at 2pm weekdays or who the guests are this week on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, well, you’ve come to the right person.

Ross Landy, Station Manager of WPAZ

So, when I got the chance to visit the WPAZ studios last week and see what’s going on, I was pretty excited.  Actually, everyone in Pottstown should be pretty excited about what the new WPAZ radio (1370 on you AM radio dial) is doing here in town.

Station Manager, Ross Landy, who worked hard and long with General Manager, Rick Rodgers, to get WPAZ back on the air as a local station, is absolutely passionate about what radio can do for Pottstown.  “We are Pottstown people,” he says. And the station is going to be about local issues, organizations, businesses, musicians.  It has the power to raise awareness and cover topics with a local focus and be entertaining at the same time.

Station Manager Ross Landy and morning DJ Brian James

While I am not old enough to have sat around the radio at night instead of the television, I do have a real appreciation for radio shows.  I remember fondly listening to Rock and Roll Roots, an old WMMR show that was hosted by Earle Bailey.  It kept me company for many Saturday mornings when I had to be at work.

For me, good radio is conversation. It’s not about someone pushing the shuffle button on an enormous playlist and then jumping in every now and then with a commercial break.  It’s the idea that the person playing the music has something to share with the audience.  WPAZ gets it.

WPAZ is offering plenty of good radio and tons of conversation.  I took some time during this, their inaugural week, to listen to the station and you should, too.  It’s not like a regular broadcast station where you know exactly what you are in for when you choose country music or Top 40 or even Oldies.  Instead, you will be part of a conversation which might include music or talk or a little bit of both.

Here’s a look at some of what’s lined up at WPAZ so far:

6-9 AM           The morning show with Randi Ellis and Betsy Chapman

9-Noon            Brian James –an eclectic mix of music with a little extra

1-3 PM             Ken’s Koffee Shop-music and call in conversation

You can also tune in Wednesday nights for Notes from Home with Mike Holliday, a live music show featuring local musicians. And, look for much more in the future.  The Hip Places to be Scene in Pottstown girls, Janet Flack and Gina Stango will have a show soon.

Landy and his crew of radio aficionados have big plans to make WPAZ both a voice for the community and part of its ongoing revitalization. You can look forward to live appearances in the spring at events and a real presence on the local music scene.  The station is broadcasting 24/7 right now and will offer live internet streaming in the near future.

So, even if you aren’t a self-professed radio geek like me, it’s worth tuning in to see what’s happening over at WPAZ.

WPAZ Radio   1370 AM

www.wpazradio.com

find them on facebook:  www.facebook.com/wpazradio

Call the station at 610-326-4000

Snow daze!

The last few weeks have been full of inside-out pajamas, spoons under the pillows and ice cubes in the toilet.  All these superstitions are supposed to bring feet of snow and no school until spring. Of course, if you don’t have elementary school aged children, you might be dreaming of a tropical winter getaway or worrying if you remembered to buy rock salt to put on the sidewalk for yet another “wintry mess” as meteorologists like to call it.

At my house, we are knee- deep in snow-crazed children, so these two most recent snow events have come not with cups of cocoa and long sessions of reading by a fire. Instead the snowstorms have forced me out of my warm home to accompany my kids as they face the Rupert Elementary Hill.  It’s a good place to sled and most of the East End of town shows up there at one time or another when there’s fresh snow (and old snow, truth be told).

What you might not know, however, is that there are places in Pottstown that are specifically designated for sledding.  The Parks and Rec department of Pottstown Borough lists the following streets::

              #1: South Price Street (Between South Street and Center Avenue)
              #2: Rosemont Alley
              #3: Loop Drive (Between Burden Drive and Winding Road)
              #4: Hawthorne Avenue (Between N. Hills Blvd and S. Hills Blvd)  
              #5: South Evans (Between Cherry Street and Laurel Street)

And, here are the details about sledding in these spots: 

  • Rules: Barricades should be placed in proper position by first sledder to arrive at area, and removed by last person(s) using the hill. (Put it back to curb)
  • Hours: 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (School Days) 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Weekends/Non-school days)

After a nice conversation with the Parks and Recreation Department, I also learned that there are great sledding hills at Brookside Country Club and Lincoln Elementary, just in case the snow has already melted on the street sledding areas. I was really surprised to hear that at one point in Pottstown’s history you could sled all the way down Mervine Street, which would be closed off for just this purpose. 

That sounded like fun, even to me and I am not a big fan of winter or snow or even being cold.

sledding at Rupert Elementary

Back at Rupert, the wind was blowing, but that didn’t stop kid after kid from showing up at the hill, some with air filled and gravity defying tubes, others with saucers, still others with the newest thing in sleds that are just a little slip of plastic and require the rider to throw themselves down the hill headfirst and reward them with a super fast ride.  My own kids have a mixture of sleds:  a saucer, an old-fashioned two-person model and the newest addition, a snowboard.

We stuck it out for an hour and a half, down the hill and back up, braving the frigid wind.  The kids raced each other and I spent a lot of time yelling for them to bail out of the sleds before they hit the street.  Finally, we all walked back home.  More accurately, I dragged two of my kids home in a sled, listening to them plotting the next snowstorm and reminding each other to turn their pajamas inside-out.

Got a favorite place to sled in Pottstown?  How about a memory of winters past and your favorite sledding spots?  We’d love to hear about it.

Art Goes to School

If you pose the question “what is art?” to a room full of kindergarteners, you will get all kinds of answers. As usually happens with kids, the first answer kind of sets the trend for the rest.  So, if the first child says “art is when I play with play-doh,” you are bound to get at least four more answers pretty much like the first.  Then, you will get a few who want to tell you about their dog, or their sister, or even what they had for lunch

But if you keep calling on them, you might get the kind of answer that art teachers really love, just as I got last week in my first volunteer gig with Art Goes to School.  One round- faced five-year-old raised his hand and summed it all up in one sentence:  “Everything is art!”

Art Goes to School (AGTS) might just be the coolest program that you don’t know about. The local chapter of this non-profit volunteer organization brings art history and appreciation to kids in the Pottstown School District every winter, and has been doing so for the last 20 years or so. Another chapter visits the Owen J. Roberts elementary schools.  Started under the auspices of the Junior League in 1962, AGTS became an independent non-profit about 10 years ago and today has grown to include 52 groups in PA and NJ.

Basically, all AGTS volunteers work with the same portfolio, which changes from year to year. In the fall, chapters meet to discuss the works, this year ranging from the well known like Andy Warhol’s famous portrait of Marilyn Monroe to the obscure like The Poultry Market by Walter Henry Williams, and get familiar with all the works.  Then, each volunteer gets to bring their own particular style to their presentation, which, for me meant asking the kids what they think art really is.

Once we waded through some silly answers and I heard what about half the class got for Christmas, we got down to the business of looking at some art and talking about what they liked and didn’t like.  I, personally, loved having the little kids because there is something so unguarded about the way they approach art and they have no filter (for better or for worse) about sharing what they think. Because I have some idea of the average attention span of a kindergartner in the late afternoon of the first day back after winter break, I brought brand new crayons and asked them to draw something for me.

When they were done, we compared them to some of the prints I had picked to show the class.  They giggled over Picasso’s Portrait of a Woman and again at Frida Kahlo’s prominent eyebrows in The FrameBut, eventually, we had a really great discussion about how not everyone sees things or will draw them in exactly the same way, and each kid left the room clutching their drawing and, I hope, knowing a little more about art.

The Pottstown Chapter of AGTS also encompasses the high school kids, with four students each year participating in the volunteer program as part of their senior project.  These students have a chance to observe other volunteers when they present at Blessed Theresa of Calcutta (formerly St. Pete’s for any Pottstown expatriates).  Then, once they have done their practice presentation for other Art Students at the high school, they can start logging the hours they need for their project.

The Art Goes to School program in Pottstown runs through the middle of February and volunteers will be visiting classes in all grades, 4K to 5th, at all five elementary schools.  So, if you have a child in a Pottstown school, be sure to ask them what they thought of The Yellow Cow (by Franz Marc) or The Road Menders (by Van Gogh). Their answers just might surprise you.

Literary dreaming

Okay, I’m here amid the snow-covered Green Mountains, hanging with my writing buddies at the end of  a long day of readings and workshop, and I get to spinning out part of my dream scenario for Pottstown’s revitalization. This particular version includes a writing center in Pottstown, where my buddies and other writers – maybe they’ve published books, maybe not yet – can stay in a gorgeously renovated Victorian bed/breakfast writers’ retreat for 1-4 weeks, for a modest weekly fee. Writers are always on the lookout for a reasonably-priced retreat, where they can get some work done. (Maybe we’d entice them with a tour of The Hill School, where Tobias Wolff spent some time, or maybe a trip to Shillington, home of John Updike.) We might even be able to get some writers to visit a class in the schools, do a program at the library, or give a reading at night. Some of my people here like the sound of all this. And, you never know — if we built a solid network of authors who had already been to Pottstown, the next step might be to invite them all back, along with others, and begin hosting an annual literary arts festival. Wouldn’t that just turn the world’s perception of Pottstown on its head? Would make a really good story, too…

Fourth & final article in series on childhood obesity

Note: This is the final article in a four-part series on Childhood Obesity presented by the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation. Corresponding Webisodes are available for viewing on www.missionhealthyliving.org. This final article focuses on what parents and children can do to start to change their habits, lose weight and live healthier lives.

CHILDHOOD OBESITY: WHAT CAN PARENTS DO NOW

TO HELP THEIR CHILD FIGHT OBESITY?

By: Dr. Laurie Betts, Program Officer, Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation

A recent White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report to the President, Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation, released some startling information—childhood obesity has become an epidemic in America and it is now considered a national health crisis. If your child is already overweight or on his or her way to becoming overweight, now is the time to take action. The effects obesity can have on your child’s emotional and physical health, both in the short- and long-term, can be devastating. Making changes in your child’s life that will affect his or her health and weight positively can be difficult, and at first appear overwhelming. You may not even know where to begin, but there are easy ways to take small steps that will equate to big changes in your child’s future.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to a child being overweight, including frequently eating a high-calorie diet, not getting enough exercise, family history, psychological issues and family dynamics. In addition to these factors, there are definite warning signs you can watch for that could indicate your child is already overweight or on the path to becoming obese including weight gain, inactivity or lethargy, depression, meal skipping, obsessions with food and continual snacking.

Steps To Take

As a parent, you have the most influence over your child’s eating habits. One of the most important first steps you can take is to commit to change as a family. Embarking on this journey as a family will enable long-term success because what you do will become a way of life in your household and constantly be reinforced. Remember, parents help build and shape lifelong eating patterns and children are likely to model the food and meal rituals of their families.

First, if your eating habits are less than perfect, don’t stress—bad nutritional habits can be changed. It is important to set the example, however. Secondly, it is imperative that parents set down some rules in regard to how their children view food. Do not use food as a reward, punishment or as a way to handle emotions. Finally, you want to teach your child the importance of healthy eating both at mealtimes and at snack time. Teaching your child how to satisfy cravings with options that are low in fat and contain simple sugars—sugars that are found in fruit rather than sugary snacks—are lessons that will last a lifetime. Taking the time to talk with your family and then incorporating the benefits of eating better into your lives will also go a long way. Good rules to follow for nutritional eating include:

• Limit sodas or high-sugar drinks

• Eat more fruits and vegetables

• Increase physical activity

• Eat more protein, nuts and leaner meats

Other things you can do as a family to help correct or prevent obesity include:

– Make an appointment to see the family doctor or pediatrician to get additional up-to-date-advice

on fighting childhood obesity.

– Record what your child eats and drinks for a week to show the doctor.

– Check out websites that have nutritional and exercise information you can use like

www.mypyramid.gov, www.nourishinteractive.com, www.letsmove.gov, and

www.missionhealthyliving.org.

– Make wise choices and keep only healthy food in the house.

– Severely limit sweet and fattening snacks, desserts and beverages.

– Don’t use food as a reward or a punishment.

– Stop eating out at fast food restaurants.

– Eat together as a family as often as possible with the focus on conversation; take your time

at meals and make them a relaxed and close family time.

– Exercise with your kids on a regular basis.

– Restrict TV and recreational computer time to a maximum of two hours a day.

– Lead by example, adopt good eating habits and exercise regularly—together.

– Teach your children how to handle negative emotions without using food. For instance, if he or

she is upset suggest a walk, listening to music or have them draw or write about what they are

feeling.

Changing the way your child and your family thinks about food does not have to happen all at once. Make a list of goals you want to achieve as a family to get healthy and lose weight. Choose one or two goals each month to incorporate into your daily living. The most important part of setting these goals is to choose something small enough that you can commit and stick to it. Start slowly and don’t overwhelm yourself, but keep your commitments even when it’s not convenient. Over a matter of months, you will start to see results and start to feel great about what you are doing for yourself and your family.

To learn more about the warning signs, risk factors and solutions to childhood obesity, plan on attending the free seminar sponsored by the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation on Thursday, January 13, 2011, 7:00-8:00 PM at the Pottstown Senior Center, 724 North Adams Street, Pottstown. Dr. Laurie Betts, Program Officer for the Foundation, will discuss the trends, causes and health implications of childhood obesity, and practical steps you can take to reverse or prevent this serious condition. You will also hear about local programs that can aid in the prevention of childhood obesity. To register, please call Rose Crews at 610-323-2006 x21 or email her at rosecrews@pottstownfoundation.org.

About the Series – Childhood Obesity This four-part article series was developed by the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation. Corresponding Webisodes featuring local experts can be found on http://www.missionhealthyliving.org. The first article discusses how childhood obesity has become a national epidemic. The second article focuses on the warning signs and risk factors of childhood obesity. The third article talks about what schools are doing across the nation, the state of Pennsylvania and in Greater Pottstown to combat childhood obesity.

About the Foundation The Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation’s mission is to enhance the health and wellness of area residents, providing education, funding and programs that motivate people to adopt healthy lifestyles. Visit www.pottstownfoundation.org for more information about the Foundation. Discover Pottstown area’s new online community at www.missionhealthyliving.org to learn and share great information on how to lead a healthier life!

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