The trouble with First Friday–Phoenixville’s monthly summer street festival that returns to the borough tomorrow night–is that there isn’t a Second, Third, Fourth and sometimes Fifth. That is to say, again, it comes but once a month. The Phoenixville Area Business Association has devised a rather elegant solution to this problem though: it's scheduled more stuff.
Summer Fun Fridays is the brainchild of Ellie Acampora of Ellie’s Choice, Chuck Kern of Natural Creations, and Debbie Pekala of Romantic Jewelers. The thrice monthly event that launched on June 8 brings live music to the streets of the borough on those “other” Fridays.
Acampora said the event is actually just a repackaged version of a summer live music series the borough ran under former CDC director Barry Cassidy, but discontinued last year.
“We were talking about how people really missed having live music. And we decided, why don’t we bring it back as a way to bring people into the borough,” she said. “So about 35 of us all chipped in, gave money, and put the event together.”
The arrangement is simple. There are no vendors, just live music set up at stages scattered throughout the downtown: one by Save More, another on the 100 block of Bridge Street, the other on Bridge and Main. The musicians play from approximately 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., but sometimes go later.
Kern is in charge of scheduling the musical acts. He says he strives for diversity in selecting the performers. The idea is for visitors to the borough to be able to window shop for the right musical genre the way they window shop for goods.
“I like the idea of people being able to walk down the street and going, ‘Oh, there’s Berry doing country blues, and there’s an acoustic sound, and, gosh, that’s Abby playing her own stuff.’ We can have just a whole assortment of sounds,” he said, adding that prospective performers can send a CD or DVD to Natural Creations, 239 Bridge St, Phoenixville, Pa 19460.
Because the effort is funded entirely by local businesses, Pekala, an accomplished seamstress, dreamt up a way to recognize them for their efforts. To this end, she sewed 37 “Summer Fun Friday” banners and distributed them to the contributing businesses. Hence the sudden uptick in color in Bridge Street shop windows.
“It’s just a joy to get so many people involved,” said the fast talking Pekala, who sewed the flags after deciding that the rising price of helium ruled out balloons.
"I'm so very proud of what we've accomplished in our little town.'