Did you know Delaware County has a state holiday? It’s called Delco Day and it’s for a good cause

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In 2021, Delco Day raised $14,500 for the HEADstrong Foundation. (Courtesy of Delco Live)

In 2021, Delco Day raised $14,500 for the HEADstrong Foundation. (Courtesy of Delco Live)

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From Pennsylvania’s first and only witch trial to a mysterious weather bubble, Delco is home to an ever-expanding tally of eccentricities.

But, did you know that the county has a state-recognized holiday?

Delco Day is the celebration of all things Delaware County. It falls on June 10 — which is a nod to the 610 area code that covers most of the county.

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2022 marks seven years since the birth of Delco Day. The party will be on Saturday, June 11 at Marty Magee’s Irish Pub in Prospect Park. There will be 15 local bands performing on several stages in the immediate area throughout the day. Of course, the cost for entry is only $6.10.

All proceeds this year are going to HEADstrong Foundation, a Delaware County-based nonprofit that offers support to families affected by cancer. There will even be a presentation beforehand where elected officials put forth the documents declaring Delco Day a state holiday.

The event is the brainchild of the Delco Live podcast which also streams on Facebook. The team consists of Chris “Hollywood” Holbrook, “Big” Al Zaffiri, Steve “Prof” Profitt, Kerri Kennedy, and Chris “Spaz” Spadaro. Some may already be familiar with their work.

The March Madness-style bracket of Delco bars? That’s their work. The color-coded map of what separates Delco from Delaware County? Also them.

Holbrook and Zaffiri described the podcast as a light-hearted show that has the versatility to handle serious subjects.

“It dwells on the mentality of Delaware County, it’s very self-deprecating. It’s a lot of things that in Delaware County, you can say about the county — if you’re from outside the county, they would be fighting words,” Holbrook said. “But it’s all just for the best.”

Chris ‘Hollywood’ Holbrook and ‘Big’ Al Zaffiri say that they are ‘blessed’ to have Delco Live play such a huge part in Delco Day. (Kenny Cooper/WHYY)

While Zaffiri described the cast as “a bunch of knuckleheads behind a microphone in the middle of Delaware County,” their crew has managed to turn the county’s biggest annual party into one of its biggest charity events.

“This year, it’s going through HEADstrong, but it’s going to a direct family for Freddy Burns, who is a young two-year-old who was diagnosed with leukemia. This is a time when I’m actually helping a friend out. His father is a good friend,” Zaffiri said.

He added that Delco Day is a labor of love, which is what makes it so special.

Delco Live is expecting its largest turnout yet in 2022. Even though people were still hesitant to attend the event last year because of the pandemic, it still raised about $15,000 for the HEADstrong Foundation.

Year seven of Delco Day receives a specialized logo. (Courtesy of Delco Live)

“Delco Day is pretty much just the embodiment of Delaware County and our message to everyone is just ‘you can do something,’” Holbrook said.

Delco Day has evolved tremendously since it first started in 2016. It was actually called Delco Fest back then and it was just a handful of bands playing at a “rinky dink bar” in Upper Darby, Holbrook said. The proceeds initially went to a campaign called Vest-A-Cop which was formed after the 2015 shooting of a Ridley Park officer.

The event raised about $1,000. The next year, the crew moved it to another venue and raised about double the amount of funds.

In 2018, Delco Day found a home at Marty Magee’s Irish Pub and that’s when Delco Live learned about the HEADstrong Foundation. The charity event was able to raise $10,000. Since then, Delco Day has only gotten bigger. While there was no Delco Day in 2020 due to the pandemic, last year’s celebration was a hit by all accounts.

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Zaffiri promised more of the same fun this time around.

“We’ll have a swearing in of Delconians, as we call it,” he said.

For people who weren’t born and raised in Delco, but have since moved there or even married someone there, Delco Live swears them in during a ceremony and even gives them flags. The team has done the ceremony for people from as far away as Turkey.

Holbrook and Zaffiri underscored that they are “blessed” to be involved with the lighthearted fun that helps fund a good cause.

Cheryl Colleluori is the president of the HEADstrong Foundation, which has been active for 15 years.

“Fifteen years strong. The HEADstrong Foundation was created from a hospital bed by our founder, who was my son. Nick was undergoing cancer treatment for an aggressive form of lymphoma. He really just recognized the lack of available resources — things that he had looked for. He decided to use his platform as a Division I athlete to really make a difference. And from the hospital bed, he created the organization with the mission of improving lives of those affected by cancer,” Colleluori said.

And that effort continues today in his memory. The Colleluori family promised Nick that they would keep up the fight, so that other people that followed in his footsteps would benefit from the “life we live.”

The Colleluori family is rooted in Delco. Colleluori and her husband raised their children there just like they were.

Colleluori is proud to say that over the last 15 years, the nonprofit has raised roughly $24 million — and touched over 22,000 patients with direct service. That comes in the form of financial, emotional, and residential support, through the foundation’s Nick House located in Swarthmore.

Nick’s House is actually how the foundation and the podcast team crossed paths. The nonprofit opened the facility in 2018. It was offering complimentary nights of comfort for families that are in the Greater Philadelphia region seeking care for cancer treatment. However, it was facing some pushback.

“It drew some negative attention from a few of the neighbors that were a little bit nervous about what we would do and what the possibility of Nick’s House would do in their community. And so whenever there’s a dispute, somehow or another, you manage to get attention,” Colleluori said.

Delco Live caught wind of the dispute and decided to use Delco Day to help fund the HEADstrong Foundation.

“They became even further educated about the work that we do, and just felt connected to our organization. So, it’s just been such a wonderful relationship. And now, it’s even come full circle, because we are assisting someone that the organizers are directly connected to,” Colleluori said.

One of the most significant things that a family faces when there is a cancer diagnosis is an estimated 40% loss of salary, Colleluori said. This is from all of the missed income and mounting expenses. The cost of cancer treatment is “astronomical” and the journey is physically and emotionally taxing.

“The more we raise, the more people we help and that’s it at the end of the day — the greatest impact that we can make as an organization in Nick’s memory. That is our goal. We never want to be in a position where we have to tell somebody ‘no,’” Colleluori said.

She is happy to see Delco Day grow and is excited to be a part of something special.

According to Delco Live, because state lawmakers have already recognized Delco Day for four consecutive years with a resolution, the process does not have to be repeated after 2022.

Delco Live brings together all of Delco including its residents and elected officials. (Courtesy of Delco Live)

“Once that happens Delco Day will be an official holiday,” Zaffiri said.

While the Delco Day holiday may not mean a day off of work, Zaffiri said it’s a nice reminder of the work they have done.

Former Republican State Rep. Alex Charlton was the first to put for a resolution in Harrisburg back in 2018 after being approached by Delco Live. Since then, Democratic State Rep. Jennifer O’Mara continued the tradition when she was elected in favor of the incumbent.

“It’s actually a little different now. The House rules have changed and so we don’t vote upon these resolutions anymore. But it had been something that was done in 2018, 2019, and 2020. So for this year, we’re not allowed to run a resolution, but I am getting a citation done that is going to be signed by all members and will be formally presented at the Delco Day event,” O’Mara said.

O’Mara thinks the concept of the holiday is a neat way for Delaware County residents to celebrate where they live and turn a day of fun “into a day of purpose.”

“It gives people an excuse to have some camaraderie, come together, put our differences aside, and do something for the common good. I think, in many ways, that really captures the essence of what makes Delco the unique place that it is,” O’Mara said.

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