Pottstown Clean Up Day and More to do this weekend

In case you haven’t noticed, spring has definitely sprung here in Pottstown.  The view down my own street in the East End has gone from bleak to bursting with color in the span of just a week and even the stubborn sycamore tree outside my front door has finally decided to join in the fun and get some leaves. 

Now that Pottstown has woken from its long winter’s nap, it’s time to look around your neighborhood, pitch in and clean up.  And, the Borough is there to help. 

Tomorrow, Saturday April 30, from 8am to 12 noon, the Borough of Pottstown is sponsoring a Clean Up day to help residents and business owners clean up the streets and sidewalks after that long winter.  There will be dumpsters stationed at Borough Hall and at the Empire Fire Company on the corner of Franklin and Chestnut Streets. 

You can get some friends and neighbors together  to spruce up your own block or come downtown and join the larger effort there.  The weather looks like it is going to be perfect for getting out and re-connecting with nature and your neighbors!

After the clean up, there are plenty of fun things going on this weekend in town.  Here is just a sampling: 

Friday at 5pm, at the NorCo Fire Company

Give Love: A Mother’s Day event benefitting Trey Love

Saturday, April 30th:

10:30 am at The Ballroom on High

Zumbathon for Japan Earthquake/Tsunami Disaster Relief

Sunday May 1st:

Pottstown Celebrates Young Children

Kick off the month of May, which is also the Month of the Young Child, with a celebration at the Pottstown YMCA, sponsored by the PEAK program for early childhood education.  The event will feature fun and games for kids (all free) and community groups will be there in force to help families learn about the opportunities for young children in our town. 

1pm-3pm at the Pottstown Family YMCA (FREE)

Pottstown Roller Derby Rockstar Carwash

Also, on Sunday, bring that pollen covered car to the NorCo Fire Company between 9am and 2pm and get your car washed by some of Pottstown’s own Rockstars.  That’s right, the Pottstown Roller Derby Rockstars are holding a fundraiser carwash on Sunday and there will be derby merchandise and bake sale items to buy while you are waiting for your car to be done. 

Monday, May 2nd

While not technically the weekend, this event will be a great way to ease into the work week and help a good cause.  The Tri-County For a Cure team, who you will remember from the video last month a the Positively!Pottstown Happy Hour, is still raising money for Yoga on the Steps

This time, they’ve got Rita’s chipping in to help.  Just come to the Rita’s Water Ice on Route 100 near the intersection of Pughtown Road between 6 and 9pm and your purchase will help the team raise money for the Yoga on the Steps event coming up in just a couple of weeks. 

It’s bound to be a busy spring weekend here in Pottstown and may actually turn out to be a sunny one as well, so take advantage of all that’s going on in your hometown!  Get off to a great start by cleaning up from winter so we can all enjoy a beautiful spring here in Pottstown. 

If you’d like to see your event here in our calendar, be sure to send us an email or check in on our facebook page.  We love to spread the word about this town!

Two important community meetings tonight

Two meetings tonight will provide key information on various aspects of revitalization and serve as proof of the new collaborative spirit taking hold in Pottstown.

#1  For anyone interested in the status of the Pottstown Area Industrial Development corporation (PAID), the entity responsible for economic development in the Borough, there will be a meeting to announce their new board members this evening at 6 pm at the library on the The Hill School campus. The reconstituted PAID board is an outgrowth of a recommendation by the Urban Land Institute in a 2009 report for the Borough to create a single entity for redevelopment and revitalization. See The Mercury’s article here.

#2 If you want to know more about what’s happening in the Washington Street corridor and how you can get involved, Genesis Housing is holding a meeting called “Let’s Talk” at 7 pm tonight at the Ricketts Center, where you can learn about new projects and help design a community mural. The Ricketts Center is at  640 Beech Street, Pottstown, PA 19464. Community members will be asked for their ideas for a new mural at the Chestnut Street Park and to help to set priorities and develop future projects. An update on Washington Street neighborhood projects,  including the new community garden and the Science in the Park event, will be discussed.  Community concerns about this area and other sections of the Pottstown will be explored with the hope of setting priorities for future projects.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the proposed mural in the Washington St. neighborhood will speak volumes on the tenacity and determination driving the revitalization of Pottstown.  Genesis Housing Corporation, The Gallery on High and Citizens for Pottstown’s Revitalization are in collaboration to develop a mural at the park located at Washington and Chestnut Streets.  The artistic coordinators, Cathy Paretti and Erika Hornburg-Cooper of the Gallery on High have selected Robert Louis Williams, an accomplished local artist to design and create the proposed park mural.  Let’s talk about the different types of murals and what this mural should look like – this is the chance for your input!

Judith Memberg, Executive Director of Genesis Housing Corporation, will provide an update on their Washington Street neighborhood housing developments including the rehabilitation of vacant properties for new home buyers and the homeowner rehab programs.  Information about the Pottstown Homeowner Rehab Program will be provided.

Genesis Housing Corporation serves Montgomery County as a non-profit community development organization and is dedicated to the development of affordable housing and to the education of consumers on housing and financial issues.  For more information, visit their website at www.genesishousing.org or call 610-275-4357.

Brunish’s: There’s no place like home for hot dogs & hot sausage

577 Lincoln Avenue

Last week I walked into a Pottstown landmark and walked out totally in love with this town all over again. No, the building isn’t on the Historic Register, although the place has got the past written all over it, and its traditional pork and beef hot sausage sandwich – with mustard, relish and onions – is called “old school.” Yep, I’m talking about the concrete extension of the basement at 577 Lincoln Avenue, where Brunish’s Deli has been located since 1938. If you want a taste of Pottstown history and a hearty sausage sandwich, cheesesteak or hoagie, you need to put this on your list of go-to local spots.

Brunish’s Deli has been a family affair from the beginning, starting in 1937 when the grandparents of the current proprietors – Dan and Bob Brunish – opened a candy, sandwich and mini-mart in a basement a few doors away. One year later their grandparents moved to #577 and set up shop in their own basement. Dan and Bob’s father took over in 1949, and added hot dogs and hot sausage to the menu in 1955. Dan has been running the deli full-time since 1974. Justin Brunish, Bobby’s son, also works there, making him the fourth generation to be in the business. The Brunishes claim to have the last originally-owned family sandwich shop in town. 

In addition to an extensive sandwich menu, they’ve got convenience items like pasta, sauce, soups, chips, mac & cheese, cereal, soda, and – of course – Tastykakes. They’ve also got some sports gear for sale, most notably, Phillies hats and jerseys.

Brunish's interior

If you want to experience something real, check out Brunish’s for the food, the atmosphere and the architecture. While the 6’4.5” ceiling is just barely high enough for 6’4” Dan Brunish to stand up straight, the cocoon-like surroundings and the friendliness of the Brunishes make it feel like home.

Brunish’s is on the web at www.brunishgroceryinc.com. And check them out on Facebook: they’ve got 1,787 “likes” at I Love Brunish’s!!!!!!!

Brunish’s Deli is located at 577 Lincoln Avenue, Pottstown, PA, across from the former Jefferson Elementary School. They’re open 7 am-8 pm, Monday-Saturday and 7am-6pm on Sundays. The phone number is 326-1900 (“The same number since Day 1,” says Dan.)

Easter Services in Pottstown

Rev. Kerry Pidcock-Lester gives instructions to the kids at the Good Friday Prayer Processional
The Pottstown community of faith gathered today for  The Good Friday Prayer Processional (aka the Crosswalk). With no rain, and even peeks of sunshine, the walkers enjoyed a brisk one mile walk through town, stopping to pray for our leaders, the school administration, and the people of town.

This year, the kids who walked were given an extra charge (and plastic gloves): to pick up trash along the way.

The walk today is just the beginning of this holy weekend for area Christians and there are services all weekend for the faithful to mark both Good Friday and The Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Tenebrae (Latin for darkness) services are being held tonight at Cedarville United Methodist, Emmanuel Lutheran and Shenkel UCC.  An Easter Vigil mass will be celebrated at 7:45 on Saturday at St. Aloysius on Hanover Street, marking the beginning of Easter celebrations for Catholics.

For more information on Easter Services in the area, you can follow the links below to what is really just a sampling of the churches in this town.

Shenkel UCC

Cedarville UMC

St. Paul’s UCC

Coventry Church of the Brethren

First Presbyterian

Easter Egg Hunts and more in Pottstown this Weekend

There is still time to get the kids out to do some good old fashioned hunting and gathering-Easter Style-at the North Coventry Fire Company on Rt.724 in Pottstown.  Their Easter Egg hunt, which is one of the largest I have ever taken my own kids to, starts at 12 noon this Saturday, April 23rd.  Bring your own basket and put the running shoes on the kids! 

In Upper Pottsgrove Township, at Heather Place Park, there is also an Easter Egg Hunt, sponsored by the Upper Pottsgrove Township Fire Company No. 1.  Their egg hunt is from 11 AM to 1PM. 

After the Easter Egg hunt, or maybe before the excitement of running through fields in search of candy and other goodies, you can take the kids to see the big fluffy rabbit for pictures at the Coventry Mall

If you are looking for a great place to bring your family (and skip the cooking) on Easter Sunday, Sunnybrook Ballroom is having an Easter Brunch from 11AM to 2PM.  They are serving a full buffet menu and Joe Horbach will provide the entertainment, playing Sunnybrook’s grand theater organ, “Ursula.” 

Of course, if you aren’t celebrating Easter this weekend and are looking for something to do outside, you should click on the Parks link at the top of our page.  In fact, even if you are celebrating Easter, a walk in the park is the perfect way to get rid of those extra calories the Easter bunny brings! 

The Schuykill River Trail is just bursting with spring color and you can rent a free bicycle on Saturday at Pottstown’s Tri-County Bicycles on High Street through the Bike Pottstown program and check out the trail. 

Have a wonderful (Pottstown) weekend and Happy Easter to those who celebrate it!

Heritage Action Plan assesses resources & linkages

This past Monday, about a dozen members of the Heritage Action Plan working group gathered at the Tri-County Area Chamber of Commerce to review the results of a recent listing and ranking of Pottstown’s heritage resources.  

The map below – created by Tom Carroll – shows the clusters of historical, arts, cultural, dining and recreational resources in and around the downtown. Some highly-ranked resources received “poor” ratings for physical condition.  It’s important to keep in mind that highly-valued resources, perceived to be in poor condition, may be excellent candidates for money or attention to draw the most benefit from them in our promotional efforts.

The map also listed major annual or seasonal events hosted in/by Pottstown every year. When these events are shown by the month in which they occur, it becomes apparent that the Borough and various other organizations are holding major events that draw visitors from throughout the region 8 months out of the year. Coordinating & enhancing promotion with downtown merchants and PDIDA could be one of several recommended strategies in the HAP. Creating additional events to fill in the other months would lead to a full year of “hometown celebration” programming.

As the working group moves toward defining Pottstown’s heritage marketing strategy and branding, history and the arts emerged as themes to pursue. Here were several comments/suggestions:

  • Start giving Historic Walking Tours on First Saturdays, led by MCCC students.
  • Consider giving Cemetery Tours, esp. for John Potts Cemetery, which is now not open to the public, and for Edgewood Cemetery. Coordinate with Pottsgrove Manor.
  • Look into creating a Historic Church Tour; several churches were highly-ranked.
  • Use banners (inexpensive) to designate High St. as an “Avenue of the Arts.”
  • Use banners to generate excitement & direct visitors to downtown. Add color! 
  • Coordinate with PDIDA & downtown merchants.

The group briefly talked about tourism/hospitality amenities that are lacking or need improvement. Safety and cleanliness had been concerns in our first large group meeting back in March. 

  • High school students will be cleaning up the downtown on the April 30 Clean-Up Day, and this should be the beginning of more frequent clean-ups downtown by student volunteers.
  • Need to do a better job of tapping volunteers in the community.
  • Involve high school students in creating marketing materials.
  • Need signage, banners, kiosks to get Trail users into the downtown – still must decide how many, what goes on them, where to place them and prioritize list.
  • Need more occupied storefronts, esp. creative-related, for critical mass to attract trail users.
  • Will need lodging for overnight visitors when Trail is complete.
  • Consider a winter carnival in February.
  • HAP partners must continue to have conversations & coordinate with County & PennDOT regarding road projects and trail linkages.
As one participant noted: “This is exactly what the ULI report was talking about.”
We expect to have another large group meeting in the next couple weeks as we solicit more input on a vision statement, marketing strategies, and trail town components like signs, kiosks and connecting paths. The public is invited to join in here or by emailing PtownHAP@gmail.com.


Good Friday Prayer Processional in Pottstown

As Christians around the world observe Holy Week, the 15 year tradition of praying around and for Pottstown continues this week, with the Good Friday Prayer Processional, sponsored by the Pottstown Clergy Association.  In recent years, the event has become known as the Cross Walk, because the participants are led on the one mile walk through town by one person carrying a huge wooden cross, symbolic of the walk Jesus took to his crucifixion. 

My kids and I look forward to marking Good Friday with the Cross Walk every year, since my youngest was wrapped in blankets in his stroller. [They also look forward to our tradition of lunch at  The Very Best after the walk since all that walking always makes them hungry].

Reverend Kerry Pidcock-Lester, Co-Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Pottstown, started the walk to help people (and especially families with young children) find a way “to go from Palm Sunday to Easter and not miss what comes in between.”  Clergy from other Pottstown congregations share in praying for the government, the schools, the businesses and all the people of Pottstown. 

The walk begins on the lawn between Emmanuel Lutheran and Zion United Church of Christ on Hanover Street at 10:30am on Friday.  There is a time for children, aimed at helping the youngest walkers understand why they are walking, and then the mile walk begins.  With stops at the Cluster Outreach Center, the school administration building and even at Borough Hall, the walk winds its way a mile through town, ending again on the lawn between the churches.  In the event of rain, the event takes place indoors. 

With a late Easter this year, I am holding out hope for a warm walk; although this wet spring might have other plans for us.  The walk takes about an hour from start to finish and the prayers at each stop are accompanied by singing and soft flute playing.   If you are looking for a great way to observe Holy Week with your family or just on your own, come to the lawn at 10:30 and join in the walk through town.  It just might become your own Good Friday tradition. 

Participating Clergy/Congregations

Rev. Kerry Pidcock-Lester, First Presbyterian

Rev. Lynette Chapman, Emmanuel Lutheran

Rev. John Houghton, The Hill School

 Rev. Vernon Ross, Bethel AME

Rev. Bonnie Moore, Shenkel UCC

Rev. Sherry Lantz, Cedarville UMC

Rev. Rick Knarr, Grace Covenant Church

Rev. Rebecca Brenner, St. Paul’s UCC

Rev. Sanford Christophel, Coventry Church of the Brethren

Rev. W. Carter Lester, First Presbyterian

Friday, April 22 at 10:30 Am

Gather on the lawn between Emmanuel Lutheran and Zion UCC on Hanover Street.

Man-made waterfalls: A vision for Pottstown?

This past Friday, Joe Zlomek, Managing Editor of The Sanatoga Post, published an interesting revitalization story out of Rosemont, Illinois. You can check out the article here: “You can see the Pottstown waterfalls from Illinois.”

Joe describes the way this relatively new town created waterfalls at one of their gateways and at an entrance to a walkway along the Des Plaines River and asks readers to imagine something similar along Pottstown’s Schuylkill Riverfront.

With funding from the Schuylkill River Heritage Area and the William Penn Foundation, the Borough is in the midst of developing a Heritage Action Plan. The plan will lay out a vision, goals and objectives, and a marketing strategy for linking Schuylkill River Trail users to downtown resources, such as shops, restaurants, arts, culture, history and recreation. The River and the Trail are key to any revitalization and economic development strategy.

A working group meeting is taking place this morning, Monday, April 18 from 10:30am-noon. Anyone interested in being part of the planning or implementation of the Heritage Action Plan is welcome to attend this or future meetings.  Please send an email to PtownHAP@gmail.com or check out the Pottstown Heritage Action Plan on Facebook for more info.

A huge “THANK YOU” to Joe for giving us some creative food for thought!

Easter Egg Hunt and More at Gerald Richards Park

This Saturday, the Easter Bunny will be stopping by Gerald Richards Park in Lower Pottsgrove Township.  Bring the kids at 9:30 for an Easter egg hunt in the park, a “bunny hop” sack race and even photos with the Easter Bunny. 

In the case of rain (which seems more and more likely this spring) the egg hunt and other festivities will take place Sunday afternoon at 2pm. 

We visited Gerald Richards Park last fall during the Park Series, but it’s worth another look this spring as the township is working on some big plans for the park.   With over 30 acres, this park is home to the Pottsgrove Soccer club in spring and fall, but the township plans would greatly expand its use, adding a clubhouse, playground and more fields.  You can find more information about this project on the township website:

www.lowerpottsgrove.org

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