Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Pottstown Panopoly (In Video)

Photo Courtesy of John Armato

Students and staff from Pottstown High School who were among the 700 who helped clean the streets of the First Ward on Friday. For more on that effort, see below.

So it's been a busy week in Pottstown, both news-wise and event-wise.

The news I will leave to the newspaper, but the events, well, I was at a lot of them with my handy iPhone and much-less-handy Tout video app, to record a lot of it.

Seeing as Sunday is a day for reflection, I thought we might review the past couple days and see what it says out our culture.

(Warning: This post has a kind of "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" feel to it....)
  • First, we have our own familiar, shared local culture -- the Halloween parade;
  • Then, there is International culture: The Diversity Committee's Heritage Day at Pottstown High School
  • And finally, an attempt to foster a new culture of cooperation and responsibility -- with a clean-up in the first ward.
First off was Wednesday's Halloween Parade where Pottstown showed off its best -- people willing to work for nothing to put on a show -- and its worst; people who do nothing to put on the show, then bitch about everything to do with the show and the behavior of the people around them who, also, have done nothing but ruin the show for the better behaved.

Case in point: Last year when we were going to lose the parade, help poured in from all avenues. Everybody wants to be a hero.

This year, the parade saved, no one wants to shell out any of the money they gladly gave last year, thus ensuring the parade will soon be in crisis once again.

Not one single dollar bill walked in the front door of The Mercury this year, even though we offered the same opportunity to support an event people say they want, and event that had the door to the paper wearing out with so many people coming in to make a contribution.

I can see how it would make it harder and harder for organizers to motivate themselves to bother.

But enough lecturing, here are Kevin Hoffman's excellent photos (the link at the top) and some much-less-excellent reporter videos of the parade; all through the miracle of Storify...

Next came Heritage Day, which I squeezed in between parent-teacher meetings and an evening election interview with incumbent council Republican Jeff Chomnuk.

As impressive as the overall effort was, I was particularly impressed with the musical acumen of several students who teamed up with Louis Rieger, CEO over at the High Street Music Co. to form the High Street Jazz Ensemble.

Check them out in the next two videos.

On Friday, the borough, the school district and The Hill School joined forces for the second time in as many weeks, this time to undertake a clean up of streets in the first ward.

They put more than 700 people into the field.

That's impressive no matter how you count it.

Here are some videos from that undertaking:

And finally, a little shameless self-promotion.

The tables for the pancake breakfast
were set up Friday night.
As a band-parent, (something I never realized was a thing until I became one) my wife and I have been volunteered into helping in the organization's many, many fund-raising efforts which fund not only instruments for those who can't afford them, but for things like trips to play in Disney World.

It takes a lot of mix to make an
all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast.
(BTW, if you would like to buy some $4 Wawa Hoagie coupons from me, just drop by The Mercury at 24 N. Hanover St. when I'm there and I would be happy to accommodate you.)

Anyway, one of the most visible ways of raising money is the snack bar the Pottstown School Music Association (or PSMA) runs during home football games.

Some of you may have seen the Tweets and Touts I sometimes send out while trying to find ways to avoid actually working in that kitchen.

But few probably realize what comes next, after they go home.

Allow me to enlighten you:

And this, much smaller clean-up, was followed by those self-same volunteers then dragging their ass over to the Goodwill Fire Company, where they set-up tables and chairs to prepare for the Saturday morning All-You-Can-Eat Pancake Breakfast, another fundraiser.

Plenty of folks showed up and a good time was had by all.

We managed a line for pancakes after a time.
But I'm betting I'm not alone, as I write this, in really, really, really wanting a nap right now....

However, before I get up to take the teen and his buddies over to the last night of the Temple of Terror, I think for a moment how much this really shows the culture of Pottstown, or at least the part of the culture we want to keep.

High School Principal
Jeffrey Hartmann was among
the customers
This borough has long benefited from an invisible army of volunteers in organizations all over the place, some better known than others, who quietly and thanklessly do for others.

I will not make the mistake of trying to give you examples or all these people and organizations, as it is inevitable I will leave someone out, and generate hurt feelings when I mean to offer praise.

Sadly, as with the Halloween Parade, those who can't keep themselves (or their children) under control, those who do more taking than giving, can all too often grab the spotlight (or the headline!) and give an impression of a place that is tilted toward the negative.

I pray I never lose sight entirely of the fact that we are so much more than that.

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