Port Richmond locals enjoyed the final “Second Saturdays” event of the season on October 12. The monthly street festival created by a board of Port Richmond locals kicked off in August. Activities included face painting, a pumpkin decorating contest, live music, food trucks and a host of vendors.
Richmond Street south of Allegheny Avenue was closed from 4pm-8pm while family and friends gathered to enjoy each other despite an ugly weather forecast. The rain held out and no one seemed to mind the cloudy skies as they moved from vendor to vendor and purchased goods from stores aligned on either side of the block.
The most popular shop among the children was “Sweets and Treats,” located at 3138 Richmond Street and owned by Wayne Bullock, who is also director of public relations and a sponsor for “Second Saturdays.”
“As a business, we sponsored it to help get it going with the city and stuff like that,” explained Bullock.
The event committee aimed to recreate a sense of unity in the neighborhood. They didn’t want locals to have to venture to other parts of the city to enjoy themselves. They also didn’t want residents to remember the community for how prosperous it once was but instead to see it for the potential it has to return to that prosperity. They decided a monthly celebration was a great way to get townees out and interacting with each other.
Businesses rallied together to make the event a success. Ontario Street Comics provided prizes for the pumpkin carving contest winners, including Frankenstein and Living Dead Dolls, just in time for Halloween. Other contributors were Tarot Card Readings by Lauren, G-Team Racing Motorcycles, Trisha’s Closet Exchange and numerous others.
Jacinta Bacon, a New Jersey native and Temple alumnus, has attended every “Second Saturday” as a vendor. Bacon, who began making bracelets when she was in school, saw the event as a perfect place to test out the popularity of her hemp bracelets.
“I do have a few regulars,” she said. “I even have some people that will email me and tell me, ‘Are you going to be here?’ And then they show up and I have it ready for them.”
Bacon is a believer in the positive results that street festivals provide for the communities that they take place in. Being a small businesswoman she knows the importance of sustaining small-time establishments in a world of big biz.
“It gets people away from going to the strip malls, which about a half mile down the road, there are a lot of franchises,” she continued. “But if you can get more people to support small businesses, you know it’ll make the neighborhood a lot better.”
One doesn’t have to be a vendor to benefit from this Port Richmond extravaganza. Whether you have young kids to keep busy or a significant other you want to spend some time outdoors with, the monthly gatherings had something for everyone.
“The first one that we went to, it was really great,” said Amanda Martino who attended the street fest with her boyfriend. “We really enjoyed our time here. But now the weather’s kind of getting colder, so it was nice to be able to enjoy it on a nice fall day. It’s right down the street from our house so it gives us a good chance to enjoy ourselves within walking distance without having to travel to Center City.”
Like most people who visited a “Second Saturdays” event, Martino and her boyfriend’s favorite part of the day was the food. Classic Polish-American dishes were sold, reflecting the large Polish-American presence in Port Richmond. A popular snack stop was the Krakus Market tent, operated by a local family. Guests walking by the tent couldn’t help but notice the savory aromas coming from the tent. Pierogies, placki and kielbasa were the favorites on the menu. For those not looking to immerse themselves in Polish culture, there were other food options. The Tot Cart, Poi Dog Snack Shop, KAMI and Big R Caribbean Soul Food were just steps away.
Music lovers were not forgotten during the event. Three bands performed hour-long sets, which kept the audience dancing. Performers included “Jimi Milligan’s Duo”, “Drumore Drive” and “Litto and the Sheppards.” Each band had their own unique flare, but certainly kept the crowd pleased.
Both organizers and guests of “Second Saturdays” were satisfied with the turnout of the event. Matt Pizzola, one of twenty-five event organizers, expressed delight over the unprecedented success of the festivities.
“We completely exceeded our expectations. We were hoping that if we hit 300 [attendees] in our first event we’d be a success,” said Pizzola. “There were reports that it was 800 the first time, 1,500 in September. All things considered, we never imagined in our wildest dreams it would be like this.”
“Second Saturdays” will pick back up in May with more families, food and fun.