The Countdown to Germantown Day in Vernon Park was hosted on this week to celebrate the past, present and future of the neighborhood. The event marked the 329 and a half-year anniversary of Germantown and was a countdown to the community’s 330th anniversary, which is Oct. 6.
Countdown to Germantown was hosted by the Friends of Vernon Park and was the brainchild of Angela Miles and YahNé Ndgo Baker. Miles and Baker, the event and program planners for the Friends of Vernon Park, said the event was a pep rally to the major anniversary in Germantown.
“The reason we put this event together is because wanted to let people know about the big event that we have coming up in October,” Baker said. “Germantown’s 330th birthday will be a major celebration and we really want the community to be involved.”
Miles and Baker said the event took months of planning.
“We have been planning this event since November when we found out that the Fairmount Park Conservancy was offering small grants for programs and events that take place in parks,” Miles said.
Miles and Baker credit the Fairmount Park Conservancy for allowing the Friends of Vernon Park to hold such an event.
“Once we heard that we received the grant we were really excited,” Baker said.
The application consisted of a detailed overview of the event such as what was the purpose of the event, how long the event would be and what the Friends of Vernon Park would put the financial resources toward.
“The grant we received was for $1,500,” Miles said, “which was great for us.”
Other than the grant, the Friends of Vernon Park also received financial donations from CitiBank, a $600 contribution, and was given donations from Germantown businesses and organizations.
Miles expressed the importance of getting businesses and organizations from the surrounding neighborhood involved with Countdown to Germantown Day.
“We call Vernon Park the ‘Emerald of Germantown,’” Miles said. “It is this beautiful green space in the middle of a residential area and also the commercial corridor so we really wanted to get the support of the local businesses to show how great this park is to the community.”
The support from the surrounding community allowed for the event to have no cost for admission.
One local sponsor for the event was Historic Germantown.
“Friends of Vernon Park really took the lead in gathering together everyone for this event,” Bob McKee, head of marketing for Historic Germantown, said. “From there we were able to collaborate with all the other groups involved and help get the ball rolling.”
McKee said that Historic Germantown’s mission for the event was to reach out to the neighborhood about some of the work that his organization is doing in Germantown.
“One of the rules for the event was no vending so nobody is trying to sell anything,” McKee said. “So we are really here for community networking.”
Food and other refreshments were also served at a discounted rate for event attendees.
Baker reached out to a future Germantown restaurant called Rose Petals Café and Lounge, which is set to open in June on Chelten Avenue.
Jania Daniels, the owner of Rose Petals Café and Lounge, said she was excited to be involved with Countdown to Germantown Day.
“YahNé was a big help in getting us to be part of the Countdown to Germantown Day,” Daniels said. “As soon as we were contacted by her, we were excited to come out and be involved with the community.”
Those in attendance were also provided with live music from local bands, tours of the rain garden, storytelling of historical events in Vernon Park, dancing and a children’s martial arts demonstration
However, one of the focal points of the day’s event was installation of a new peace pole that was installed in the heart of Vernon Park.
The Sonia Sanchez Peace Pole was put in place to honor Germantown’s most famous poet.
“We really wanted people to be here to see the peace pole’s installation,” Miles said. “Although it is in honor of Sonia Sanchez, we want people to know that they are a part of it as well.”
Baker and Miles both said that they believed that the Countdown to Germantown was going to be a success.
“My expectations are already met,” Baker said before the event began.
Baker said her main goal was to get people involved with the planning the 330rd anniversary of Germantown. She said that people have begun planning for the anniversary day and that is why she felt that the Countdown to Germantown was already a success.
“I just wanted people to come to Vernon Park and see all of the great things that are happening right here in Germantown,” Miles said, “and I think people will see that today.”