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Pottstown’s 4th of July makes Channel 6 News

July 5, 2011

Thanks to resident Debby Penrod for reporting that Pottstown’s long-standing Fourth of July celebration made the Channel 6 news. See the video here.

The comment near the end about the event being funded through private donations, rather than tax dollars, will surely strike locals as a skimming of the surface of the very real difficulty of funding the event. The many volunteers who make this and many other community events happen are to be commended for all their hard work and dedication throughout the years.  Unfortunately, it’s no longer business-as-usual for the private or public sectors. There’s got to be a new modelof broader and more innovative collaboration in order to keep these community events going — if they are to keep going at all.

Balloon lifts off

As part of the Heritage Action Plan process that took place this spring – the plan is in the final stages of being drafted – it was noted that Pottstown is the host for local and regional events just about every month out of the year.  See list below.

What does this have to do with raising money for the Fourth of July? The marketing of these events is left up to the individual organizations who run them. Pottstown, as the home of these events, does not “claim them” as their own, supplementing and coordinating with the existing marketing. Imagine the events on this list always being promoted together, wrapped up in a simple, cohesive branding message,  on the Borough, PDIDA, PACA and (eventually) PAID websites.

Pottstown would suddenly look like a place where something fun is always happening. Potential visitors would see the pattern and realize that there is fun and safe entertainment to be found in Pottstown on a regular basis. This is a crucial step (among many others) toward marketing Pottstown’s empty storefronts, industrial space and housing to newcomers — and this is where new donors, volunteers and organizational partners can be found to help keep traditional community events like the Fourth of July going. Donors, especially, want to feel like they are supporting not only a worthwhile cause but a “winning” cause.

Pottstown already has a winning line-up. It just needs to flesh out a couple months, come up with the message (speak with one voice!) and market the hell out of it. 

And just because I can’t help myself, here are a few ideas to toss onto the table:

January – continue the winter holiday spirit with Friday Night Lights downtown with literary readings, music and hot cider at multiple venues; bring in outside talent as well as locals, including students from all schools.

February – come up with a Valentine’s Day-themed event or weekend; schedule historical walking tours and coordinate with Pottsgrove Manor & Historical Society programming over Presidents’ weekend.

March – St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl (Brickhouse, Frankie & Johnnie’s, Pourhouse, Jack Cassidy’s)

April – Repent from Pub Crawl by focusing on Easter season events and holding historic church tours every weekend; add outdoor activities such as Schuylkill River bike and kayak tours every weekend.

November – Open up the holiday season with Pottstown Pie Festival. Re-claim Mrs. Smith and our pie-making heritage!!

Festivals/Special Events in Pottstown, by month

 January – Polar Bear Plunge

 February – ?

March – ?

 April – Easter/Cross Walk

 May – BMX National Event; Classic Car Show

 June– Schuylkill River Sojourn; Soap Box Derby; Volleyball Rumble; Summer Solstice/Dog Show; Classic Car Show

July – July 4th; Classic Car Show

August – Classic Car Show

 September – Carousel of Flavor; Open Doors; Classic Car Show

October –Schuylkill River Festival; Halloween Parade; Shiver on the River

 November – ?

December – Candlelight House Tour; Hometown Holiday Celebration

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3 Comments
  1. Katy permalink
    July 5, 2011 10:23 am

    You have hit a big nail on the head Sue! While there have been very good improvements to the Borough website – where’s the fun in it? It needs a section that has photo’s and promo’s of the events in Pottstown, slide shows of beautiful buildings and homes. This is a nominal cost activity that would go a long way to exhibit unity among the various organizations.

    And wow, it is an eye-opener to see all the activities that already happen here listed, all in one place, on your blog site. It occurred to me that quite a few blog sites and facebook sites are independently announcing all the fun activities but there is no one place you can go for the complete details. For the Borough to host that information would be HUGE, and as you say, “claim them as their own”.

    Another reality is that the artists and creativity can bring many of these festivals to life, while designing some new ones, on a dime. Pulling in creative people and giving them carte blanche to create often minimizes costs and maximizes potential.

    Calling all inventors, creators and artistic types to Pottstown!!! That’s the ticket.

    • July 5, 2011 10:45 am

      Hi, Katy – great to hear from you!

      This post just resurrects something that many of us have known for a while: Pottstown has lots of wonderful things going on already. And, yes, attracting the creative community to enhance and spin off what already exists is one key to success. Another key is the creation of an actual economic development program that is also easy to understand and sell. There have to be some real substantive incentives (as recommended by the ULI) and a hospitable regulatory climate in order to attract new businesses, especially those in the creative and green sectors.

  2. July 5, 2011 9:51 pm

    Sue this is a great post, like Katy I enjoyed seeing everything great in Pottstown listed and love the idea of filling in the blank months with more programs, events and festivals.

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