Community a no-show for first EMAN Picnic in the Garden

 The picnic was held on the grounds of Awbury Arboretum. (NewsWorks file)

The picnic was held on the grounds of Awbury Arboretum. (NewsWorks file)

Mt. Airy’s first ever Picnic in the Garden on Saturday drew almost no neighborhood participation in the midst of a weekend filled with activities citywide. East Mt. Airy Neighbors (EMAN) hosted the event in partnership with Awbury Arboretum in a rear section of the grounds.”I am disappointed by the lack of support from our neighbors,” said Elayne Bender, executive director of EMAN.

Competition from the DePaul USA Walkabout and the Simon Gratz High School reunion, which occurred on more prominent areas of Awbury’s grounds and overlapped the three-hour picnic may have been a factor. Other Northwest events such as the Manayunk Arts Festival, Weavers Way Pet-A-Palooza and Germantown’s “Reimagine Maplewood Mall” block party were also taking place at the same time.

Bender said that email reminders had been sent out and flyers had been posted. Outreach to neighboring community associations, such as Chew and Belfield Neighbors Club, Cliveden Hills Association and Awbury Neighbors Association did not receive response, she noted.

The picnic also suffered from a last minute cancellation by Temple University’s Five & Fit, an initiative which strives to prevent childhood obesity, Bender said.

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EMAN was awarded a $3,000 grant from the Philadelphia Activities Fund to put on the event with the intention of placing focus on the southern part of the community and reaching an attendence goal of 200 guests. Some of the grant money was spent on publicity, food and materials for the limited children’s activities. Some of it will pay for staff time and for a donation to the arboretum for use of their space. Any remaining funds will be returned, Bender said.

The event was not a total loss, however. Famished DePaul runners just finishing up the walk/run came by to have some water and Little Jimmie’s Bakery Cafe’s tacos. The tacos drew a few folks from the Gratz picnic as well.

Bender said making a connection with the DePaul organization was a welcome boost. DePaul USA made a small donation for the food and drink.

Bender says EMAN will discuss what can be done better for next time, including a greater social media presence and perhaps incorporating signage around the neighborhood. The organization currently has no social media outreach, but plans to resurrect its Facebook page.

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