Germantown’s Center in the Park was filled with laughter on Thursday as community lovers gathered to celebrate Valentine’s Day at Love Café.
There, local seniors celebrated their love for life at the annual event for which a heart-shaped balloon greeted them at the front door in Vernon Park.
Brannon Johnson, program director of Center in the Park, recalled starting Love Café in 2008 and how it has grown in subsequent years.
“It felt more like a program I was putting on for them,” said Johnson. “It was like I was getting the guitarists together, I was getting the poets together, I was emceeing. Now, they just do it all.”
Senior citizens registered in the guitar and poetry classes offered throughout the year were there to share their skills on Thursday.
Gerald Parker, who has been going to the Center for eight years, said he enjoys playing with the other guitarists there.
“When they come up with the program, they try to integrate the activities of the students of the different classes,” said Parker. “And we’re more than happy to show off what we learned or didn’t learn.”
Providing an environment where senior citizens can learn a craft is a Center in the Park goal.
Sarah Jamison said she has enjoyed being a new member of the center’s poetry and exercise classes.
“I’m 60-years-old and I’m proud to be 60. We need to be proud no matter what age they are,” said Jamison. “I love coming to functions like this to encourage others. … I’m encouraging them and they’re encouraging me back.”
While Valentine’s Day is often associated with the love of a significant other, the poems and music selections throughout the afternoon highlighted the love of community.
Taisje Claiborne is a student at Temple University. Philadelphia Neighborhoods, a NewsWorks content partner, is an initiative of the Temple Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.