Do you begin planning your outdoor holiday decorations as soon as the Thanksgiving turkey begins to cool? Do the lights on your neighbors front porch put Clark Griswald to shame? Then one of you should probably sign up to compete in the Pottstown Winter Decorating Contest, but you’d better hurry, because the deadline for entry is December 18th. First prize is $50, but more importantly, bragging rights for all of 2021. Sign up now by downloading an entry form from https://bit.ly/2JwF5VN.
If you are like me, by this time, you are pretty tired of being at home. During Covid19, our family has gratefully enjoyed the drive-in movies at Sunnybrook, and we have hiked almost every trail in a ten-mile radius of Pottstown, but we are ready for something new.
This upcoming weekend, July 18th, is the Pottstown and Boyertown Home Garden Tour. This is a tour of ten of the areas most interesting private gardens, past winners of the Grow For it Garden Contest, organized by Mosaic Community Land Trust, Building a Better Boyertown and Sponsored by the Pottstown Health and Wellness Foundation. The self-guided tour runs from 8:00 am to noon and can begin in either Pottstown or Boyertown.
Tickets are $10 per person in advance, $15 on the day of the tour. Social distancing should be practiced and masks worn while in the gardens. To purchase tickets, go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pottstown-and-boyertown-garden-tour-tickets-109187326232
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Mosaic Community Land Trust on Facebook.
This past few weeks have brought events that have not occurred in our lifetime in America. We are seeing panic buying that is unprecedented. It is suddenly like a zombie apocalypse out there. No toilet paper, no water, no SPAM. If your area hasn’t shut down schools and churches and public gatherings to “flatten the curve”, I’m sure your time is coming. The governor closed our county earlier this week. All schools, non-essential retail, gyms, daycare, etc. closed for two weeks. I think it’s the right move, and I applaud the governor for taking that bold step before things get out of hand.
So now many of us are faced with two weeks of quarantine. Given that we have been encouraged to limit social interactions to help slow the spread of the COVID- 19 virus, it will be novel for a few days, but then I think it might start to wear on us. Just because we need to practice some social isolation doesn’t mean we can’t get out a bit and even do some good in the world. So what can we do with two weeks at our disposal that won’t contribute to the global pandemic?
- Go for a hike: In most places around here, Spring is well under way. Take the people you live with or already see every day and take a walk in a state park or on the Schuylkill River Trail. The weather has been lovely lately, so get out there and enjoy it. Besides, there is some evidence that viruses don’t thrive in fresh air and sunshine, so get as much as you can.
- Do a one-person or one-family block clean-up: Grab some gloves and a trash bag and loop your block or walk your street picking up trash along the way. Make a call to a friend, and you clean one side of the street while they clean the other. You can share news back and forth while maintaining a healthy distance!
- Read a book out loud as a family: When our kids were young, we read many books out loud together. I still remember our family gathering together to finish the last few pages of the final Harry Potter book before we could begin family vacation one year. Reading a great book out loud together is such a bonding experience. If you haven’t done it in a while, take this chance. Even if your kids are older, or if you don’t have kids, (reading aloud as a couple is wonderfully romantic) this is an activity you won’t regret.
- Start a garden: With Spring coming so early this year, now is a good time to dig a bed and start a vegetable or flower garden (or both!). It isn’t too early to sow rows of lettuce and peas and other early crops. It’s not too late to begin seeds inside for plants like tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and cabbage for transplant into the garden in May. Get online and watch or read a tutorial and give it a try this year. Don’t have a yard? Garden in a pot!
- Write a letter: Many others either are or will be doing the same thing as you are, and may be feeling the effects of social isolation soon. E-mail and social media are great for keeping us connected, but few things are more pleasurable than getting a letter in the mail. Think of someone you haven’t connected with in a while: a cousin, a friend you grew up with, an old army buddy, a teacher you liked. Take 30 minutes now, while you have it, and write them a letter. You will happy you did it, I promise.
- Pick a spot in your home and do a deep clean: Do you have some bins in the basement you have been meaning to sort through? How about that closet in the back bedroom that just keeps getting things stuffed into it? Have you put on a little weight and need to purge your wardrobe? Set aside a day and tackle that deep-cleaning project you have been avoiding. Open your windows, put on some great music, grab a cold drink, roll up those sleeves and get to work!
Things are a little tense right now, but we can make the best of it by looking for positive ways to use our time during the crisis. Remember to eat healthy food, get plenty of rest, turn off the news, and tell the people you care about that you love them. What other suggestions can you come with?
God bless, everybody!
Tickets are on sale now for the Historic Pottstown Holiday Tour which will be Sunday, December 8, from noon until 5:00 pm.
The Borough of Pottstown boasts many stunning, historic buildings – and
many will be festively decorated and warmly opened to the public tour.
All proceeds will benefit the Third Annual Pottstown GoFourth! fireworks festival in Memorial Park. (See below for details on how to enjoy the various holiday activities). This year’s festival will have a “Sunny 2020” Woodstock theme, planners say. In the meantime, holiday lovers can get in the spirit on December 8, beginning with a tea at the Elk’s Club, 61 E. High St., between noon and 3 p.m.
A trolley, sponsored by ROG Orthodontics and Pottstown Area Rapid Transit, will shuttle historic house tour-goers to about one dozen stops throughout the Borough while Pottstown historian Mike Snyder shares fascinating stories about our town’s past. The trolley tours will begin at 1:00 p.m. and again at 3:30 p.m., both leaving from Emmanuel Lutheran Church at 150 N. Hanover St. Cookies and punch — and raffle baskets — will be offered at Emmanuel, too.
Event planners note that the tickets are selling rapidly – with more than one half of the Historic Pottstown Trolley Tour available seats already taken.
A self-guided tour of the historic properties, all lovingly decorated for the season, may be taken between 1 and 5 p.m. A shuttle service will be provided to those interested, courtesy of Tompkins VIST Bank and Pottstown Area Rapid Transit. “This is a wonderful opportunity to peek inside some of Pottstown’s fantastic homes, many of which are perfect examples of architecture ranging from Queen Ann Victorian to Revival styles,” says Jo Bathurst, chair of the GoFourth! Historic Pottstown Holiday Tour. “The property owners who are participating will pull out all the stops to showcase these Pottstown gems. We truly appreciate their generosity in welcoming guests into their homes.”
“Even if you can’t enjoy the tour in person, you can show your pride in our beautiful community by purchasing the 2020 Pottstown Historic House Tour calendar, beautifully photographed by local artist Carol Brightbill,” adds Amy Francis, Pottstown GoFourth co-chair.
My youngest daughter came to us during her Junior year in high school, disgruntled and restless about what to do the following year with her school schedule. She only needed a few more credits to graduate, and was looking at her options. She considered moving to a cyber charter school, trying to graduate early, and even home schooling, briefly. She went in to discuss it with her guidance counselor, who suggested she look at a dual-credit program the high school had set up in cooperation with Montgomery County Community College. The way it worked, she would take all her classes at the college, and the classes would count not only toward her high school graduation, but toward college credit as well. We would be required to pay regular tuition at the community college to participate in the program, but for a full year of college credit, it was a bargain price by any standard, so my daughter immediately enrolled. My daughter, as well as my husband and I, consider the year she spent at MCCC to be of incredible value.
The main campus is located in Blue Bell, but the college has its West Campus located right here in Pottstown, just off the Hanover Street exit of 422, and convenient to all the High Street restaurants and stores, at 101 College Drive. It is home to an art gallery, theater, library and bookstore, as well as the recently added Sustainability and Innovation Hub. Many of MCCC’s students live in Pottstown, but many more come into Pottstown from surrounding communities. The college offers degree programs in many areas of education including Business Administration, Education, Psychology, Criminal Justice, Mathematics, and many others. In addition, academic programming at West Campus’s University Center allows students to take a selection of courses and pursue a range of degrees offered by Albright University, Alvernia University, and Chestnut Hill College.
The college also offers credit certificate programs that can be completed in Pottstown in Medical Assisting, Human Services, and Addictions. There are Continuing Education programs, summer camps, a Culinary Arts Institute (located in Lansdale), as well as online courses. The college also offers events for the community, two of which are coming up next week. There will be a College Jump Start event beginning June 17th and running through the 21st (see flyer below), as well as the upcoming Community Career Fair on June 18th. For more information on either of these two events, contact Christine Morris at email@example.com or call (610)718-1802.
To stay connected with what is being offered by way of events, follow this link, or go the the MCCC website, and click on the For the Community tab.
Help Support the Festival
The Pottstown GoFourth! Festival is many festivals – a music festival, a food festival, a kid’s festival and a 4th of July festival – all rolled into one giant festival!
Entirely funded by donations and sponsorships, without a penny of taxpayer dollars, this year’s GoFourth Festival will begin at 11:30 a.m., immediately after the Rotary Club-sponsored July 4 parade beginning at 10:15 a.m.
Fireworks cost about $1,000 per minute in addition to ancillary costs such as security costs, permits, and traffic control. “We cannot begin to fund this festival through bucket collections alone,” says co-chairperson Amy Wolf, adding that the volunteers still are seeking two headlining fireworks sponsors of $10,000 each (or one official and extraordinarily generous sponsor at $20,000).
Volunteers have raised about $35,000 toward a $55,000 goal that will ensure a spectacular, old-fashioned fireworks display by International Fireworks of Douglassville, Pa., at 9:15 p.m. in Memorial Park on Thursday, July 4, as part of the Third Annual Pottstown GoFourth! Festival.
Putting on a community festival of this size takes a village! To volunteer with festival set-up (July 3), during the festival, and/or festival break-down (July 5) please visit http://www.pottstowngofourth.com/volunteer.
Help Support the Fireworks and The Pottstown GoFourth! Festival
Area businesses and citizens play a vital role in ensuring the success of this year’s all- volunteer led effort to throw a spectacular July 4 event for the community and guests.
Tax-deductible donations can be made by donating online at PottstownGoFourth.org, or by sending a check made payable to the TriCounty Community Network (TCN); donors should note “Attention: GoFourth” in the memo line on the check. Checks may be mailed to Pottstown GoFourth! Festival, PO Box 1362, Pottstown, PA 19464.
Businesses or individuals may sponsor various entertainment providers and activities – and in exchange they will receive outstanding publicity and other benefits including (for upper level sponsors) preferred seating during the fireworks display. To learn more about becoming a sponsor, go to PottstownGoFourth.com or email PottstownGoFourth@gmail.com.
Similarly, quality arts and crafts vendors will feature their wares, but additional artisans are encouraged to participate. Again, the PottstownGoFourth.com website provides relevant information. Vendor applications can be found at: www.pottstowngofourth.com/vendor-apps.
Friends of Pottstown GoFourth! Festival can purchase GoFourth! merchandise, including the popular hats, which always sell out quickly, at https://www.pottstowngofourth.com/gofourthgear while supplies last.
This year’s festivities will be kicked-off with the singing of the National Anthem by Jo Ann Bathurst at 11:30 a.m., immediately followed by the crowning of the 2019 Royal Court. Homecoming Queens and Kings from the Pottstown, Owen J. Roberts, Boyertown, and Spring-Ford school districts are encouraged to compete through fundraising to be named King and Queen of the Pottstown GoFourth! Royal Court – and the second-highest fundraisers will be named the Prince and Princess of the Court. Students are conducting their own fundraising drives through activities that may include collection cans at local venues, a car wash, bake sale, and so forth. All funds must be submitted by the end of the business day on Friday, June 28, at VIST bank, 258 E. High Street, Pottstown. All Royal Court competitors may appear in the July 4 parade. Winners also will receive two passes for VIP seating for the fireworks show and a Pottstown GoFourth! Festival gift bag including an official Festival t-shirt.
Last year’s diverse, professional live entertainment was a real hit with attendees. This year’s line-up includes: Anakai and the Grooveyard; AfroBear presented by Montgomery County Community College; Stephanie Grace, presented by Pottstown Parks & Recreation; Hector Rosado & Orchestra Hache; and Funktion.
The festival is jam-packed with activities geared toward families, including the noon to 5 p.m. return appearance of “Grandpop Bubbles,” a performance artist who creates enormous bubbles to delight young and old alike. Grandpop Bubbles’ performance and all of the children’s activities for the day are being generously sponsored by ROG Orthodontics. Other attractions will be inflatable rides and attractions, from noon to 8 p.m.; Rainbow the Clown face-painting artists from 1 to 5 p.m.; and a Rain Gutter Regatta presented by Pottstown Cub Scout Packs 249 & 146 from 5 – 7 p.m. Community members interested in participating in the Rain Gutter Regatta please contact Raymond Rose at 484-366-7096.
In addition, local non-profit organizations will offer games, prizes, and giveaways.
The U.S. Hot Air Balloon Team will have a balloon launch of multiple balloons from the park around 6 p.m.
The all-important food offerings have grown quickly, and this year the vendor fare will include pizza cones, Asian dumplings and rolls, BBQ, ice cream, Latin food, banana whip, burritos, and more. The popular Sly Fox Beer Tent also will return. There are still a few spaces left for food vendors. For more information please visit: www.pottstowngofourth.com/vendor-apps.
This year’s Featured Community Partner is The Colebrookdale Railroad, which will offer short runs from noon – 4 p.m. (adults $10/children $5) and a Fireworks Express Run at 7 p.m. starting at the Colebrookdale Railroad Boyertown Station. Fireworks Express passengers will enjoy VIP seating for the fireworks display. For more information or to purchase tickets please visit www.colebrookdale.com.
The 2019 Pottstown GoFourth! Festival would like to recognize the following top-level sponsors to-date: Gold sponsors include (in alphabetical order), Hobart’s Run, Precision Polymer, Reading Orthodontic Group, and Wolf, Baldwin & Associates; silver sponsors include American Keg Company, Key Bank, O’Donnell, Weiss & Mattei, PC, Sager & Sager Associates, the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board, The Victory Bank, and Tompkins VIST Bank; bronze sponsors include the American Heritage Credit Union, Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust, PA Industrial Equipment, and PECO.
The Pottstown GoFourth! organization is a Pennsylvania not-for-profit corporation, operating under the 501 (c)(3) umbrella of the TriCounty Community Network, which manages all GoFourth! finances and reporting. Co-Chairperson Amy Francis emphasizes that not a penny of taxpayer money supports the July 4 festivities, which is why fundraising is so essential. “No Pottstown Borough funds help to pay for this celebration,” Francis says. “It is completely funded by sponsorships and donations made by businesses and individuals who want to offer our greater Pottstown community a fun, family-oriented event — a happening that showcases all the positive community spirit and amenities Pottstown has to offer.”
Parties interested in marching or driving in the Pottstown Rotary Club July 4th parade should contact firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible to register. There is a modest registration fee that will cover traffic control and other related expenses. The parade will begin at 10:15 a.m. at High and Adams Streets and continue west to Manatawny Street – and participants as well as spectators will be encouraged to continue on to the King Street entrance of Memorial Park to participate in the GoFourth! Festival.
The Rotary Club also will hold its 27th Annual Duck Race on Manatawny Creek the afternoon of July 4, with a 4 p.m. duck launch. By selling duck sponsorships, the Rotary will benefit charities in the greater Pottstown area – including Pottstown GoFourth. To purchase a Rotary duck, go to pottstownrotary.org or purchase a duck at the GoFourth festival on July 4; to make a parade contribution, please send a tax-deductible donation to the Pottstown Rotary Community Endowment Fund (PRCEF) via P.O. Box 227, Pottstown, PA. 19464.
Pottstown GoFourth! Festival also will sell 2019 duck ticket and Pottstown GoFourth! Festival merchandise, including newly designed collectable Pottstown GoFourth! Festival baseball caps (while limited supplies last), at the Pottstown and Douglassville Redner’s markets on Sunday, June 16 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday June 30 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(While there is not a rain date for the entire festival, the rain date for fireworks only will be July 7.)
Early Cinco de Mayo celebrations began a week ago Friday night as we embarked on a Taco Crawl through the borough. We started out with high hopes of tasting as many different tacos as possible in one night, but we had to quit halfway through, so we’ve decided to continue again later.
We began the night at Three Brothers Grill, located at 1432 East High Street. Frank’s Fish Taco and the Steak Super Taco were favorites for our group here, and yeah, it’s not a taco, but the tamales are fantastic!
Next, we slipped into Aye, Carumba! at 300 East High Street, in the old Farmers Market building, now made over into a fun food court. My particular favorite here is the deep fried avocado tacos (genius!), but we honestly tried one of everything, and there wasn’t a stinker in the bunch. There is tons of new table space in the rear now, too, so our big group had no trouble finding a place to sit. If I hadn’t been trying to conserve calories for tacos, the Grapefruit Paloma is a nice compliment to any taco. Also don’t miss the Chipotle Sweet Potatoes and the Churros (gluten free)…YUM!
The last stop we made during Part Uno was at Juan Carlos. We got the L.A. Street Tacos, the Fish Tacos, and we splurged and treated ourselves to the garlic shrimp and some flan (probably a big part of the reason why there is no way we were going to make it through all the taco places that night!). Everything got a thumbs up, especially those nicely spiced L.A. Street Tacos.
Next time, we have to pace ourselves: no chips and no extras…gotta try sticking to the tacos! On Part Dos, we want to hit Los Aztecas, The PUB, and Plaza Vazquez. Anyone have any other suggestions for great tacos in (or very near to) town? Grab some friends and crawl your way through the tacos in town!
After working with Mosaic Community Land Trust in the borough for several years, my family and I decided to sell our home in Schwenksville and move to Pottstown. Not only did we buy a home, but we are also starting a business. I love this town! I have met so many wonderful people in my work here, and now so many neighbors have become friends. I have deep friendships with the people I have met through Mosaic and my church, located in Pottstown, in which I have been active since moving to Pennsylvania 11 years ago. This beautiful old town has captured my heart. The architecture here is unique, genuine, and lovely, whether it’s a twin on Queen Street, a row home on Chestnut, or a 19th century mansion on Hanover or High. I like that I can walk to everything in town, and yes, I love the bike lanes that run right in front of my house. It makes me sad and a bit puzzled when I hear people disparage our town.
Pottstown isn’t perfect. I’m not a Pollyanna. Well, okay, maybe I am, but I’m not ignorant. I know there is crime here, and I know there is a drug problem. But those things do not define this town. I know these problems aren’t easily fixed, but if you aren’t happy with the way things are in Pottstown, then you should get out.
But not in the way you’re thinking.
First: Get out of your mindset. Part of place (or a person) becoming better is to start by believing that it is. Look for the positive around town. See the things that are good about this place and the people that live here. If you are having trouble doing that, talk to someone who likes it here about what they like. Focus on the good things rather than the bad, and then we can all come together and continue to work on making necessary improvements. And when you talk about the town to others, before you launch into the problems, mention the positives. (Can’t think of any? How about the many kind and committed people who live here? We have beautiful architecture and large, lovely street trees. You can walk from one end of town to the other in under an hour, and therefore almost the entire town is walkable. There are some good restaurants here, a top-notch theater, and a scenic river.)
Second: Get out of your house. Get out into the town. If you haven’t been downtown or to the river or Memorial Park in a while, go do it. Things are changing. There are new businesses downtown, and a lot of new ideas coming to fruition. Did you know that Pottstown has one of the only indoor Dragon Boat practice facilities in North America? There is a bead store downtown where you can learn to make jewelry yourself, and they teach classes there all the time. There is an indoor food court that has opened in the old Farmers Market building at the corner of Charlotte and High that has a great taco stand and a vodka bar, and soon a coffee shop and vegan place. And speaking of tacos, we seem to have an excessive number of good places to get them all up and down town. Three Brothers is great, Juan Carlos, The Pub, Los Aztecas and now Aye Caramba…it’s taco heaven! Did you know that a mural is about to be painted on the trail along the river? There’s a new Asian fusion restaurant opening where Brick House used to be, a delicious new doughnut shop near the bus station, a beer garden going in on High Street, and a Bed and Breakfast opening near Jack Cassidy’s Irish Pub. We have a gorgeous restored carousel, an indoor badminton facility, multiple breweries, and even an axe throwing place! There is a lot happening, so get outside and check it out!
Third: Get out of your comfort zone. Join a group, volunteer, get involved. Every person has something to gain and something to give when they involve themselves in their community. Find a church you like and start going. Join your school’s Home and School association and participate in meetings and events. Find a nonprofit or other community group that is doing work you find important and volunteer with them. Come to borough council or school board meetings. Walk next door with a plate of cookies and meet your neighbor. I work in community development, and I am a firm believer that the most effective way to develop a community is to strengthen interpersonal connections within the community. In return for stepping out of your comfort zone, you will find satisfaction in building community, contribute to problem solving, and probably even make a friend.
Things are beginning to change. We need our community members to think positively. Get out of the mindset that may have you thinking the problems are too big to solve or that things can’t get better. Get out of your house, office or car and have a walk around town and look and see what is new, and what’s there that has always been great. And get out of your comfort zone and get involved. We need YOU! We should care about each other, work together to problem solve, and look around and see the good that’s happening all around us. If you have lived here a long time, or used to live here and have moved away, it’s time to look at Pottstown with new eyes. Get out and do it!
Photo courtesy of Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation
With the just-announced closing of Weitzenkorn’s, I find myself a little puzzled, to be honest. There is so much happening along High Street, I can’t for the life of me figure out why our friends at that fine Pottstown institution would cut the cord and run right now.
In the last twelve months, several new businesses have opened on our main street and nearby, including Pottstown United Brewing Company, Splitting Edge Axe Throwing, Aye Carumba and the new wine bar inside the Farmer’s Market, The Avenue, the Ice Cream Shop, and my personal favorite, Studio 36, a lovely bead store, among several others. We have health food, a bakery, a beautiful bridal shop, divine doughnuts, vegan food, handmade woodwork, antiques, and many of my old favorite eateries (Grumpy’s, Lily’s, Argento’s, Juan Carlos to name a few).
I will concede that Weitzenkorn’s is probably too big to compete in this Amazon era, but its target demographic has never been foot traffic. Its loyal customers have always been the people who have shopped there for years. Moving to Phoenixville will likely alienate most of those customers. My family moved here last year, and we loved Weitzenkorn’s from the very beginning, but I never shop in Phoenixville. In fact, other than the occasional art house movie and some really amazing Thai food, I rarely go to Phoenixville. I’m so sad to see Weitzenkorn’s leave our lovely downtown district right as it is beginning to wake up. Why not move to a smaller space on High Street, or lease out part of the existing store and stay with its loyal customers?
The revival has begun, but what we now need are more entrepreneurs. Having recently moved downtown, I walk to do many of my errands, and it has brought to light a few of the holes in our retail selection downtown. While remodeling my house, I have used Rich Ranieri’s Flooring and Lastick Furniture, but we need a small hardware store. I’m not talking about a place that competes with Home Depot or Lowe’s, I just mean a place I can buy a packet of screws, a tube of caulk, or some light bulbs.
Last month, I needed to choose a wedding gift, but other than a booth inside the Farmer’s Market (which is great), there wasn’t anyplace downtown that had new gift items. A gift shop would be great. A little book store would be wonderful…preferably one with a place to grab a cup of herbal tea and visit with a friend! Since Connections is transitioning, there is a coffee shop sized hole on High Street, as well. How about a small grocery store or co-op?
What are some of the things you would like to see on High Street?