It is often referred to as the heart of Fox Chase and one visit to the Fox Chase Recreation Center leaves no doubt that is.
Located at 7901 Ridgeway Ave., the center is full of energy, both inside and outside the main building. The recently renovated playground is heavily used.
Tina Majewski brings her kids, Faith and Sanap to the playground at Fox Chase. “I like coming to the rec,” she said. “The people are very nice and there is always something to do.”
Liz Greenawalt agreed; “I bring the kids to play; it’s safe, comfortable and very friendly.”
Anthony Bocchiccio, facility supervisor, and his staff of 11 guide the programs provided at the center in conjunction with the various community groups who provide services through the center. No matter what season it is, there is always something to do at the recreation center.
Pick-up games are a constant around the center. The Polec Memorial Gym is utilized for indoor volleyball, soccer, basketball and indoor hockey in addition to the John Curry Memorial Weight Lifting room. The center also has an active outdoor sports program consisting of football, baseball, softball, swimming, roller hockey, soccer, special needs soccer and tennis for all age groups. The annual softball tournament and golf outing are well attended.
Sports isn’t all the rec staff supervises.. The center offers an array of programs to the community that are not sports oriented. Seasonal and year-round programs include the Computer Learning Center, ceramics/arts and crafts, drama, Irish dance, Zumba, dance for kids and aerobics. The Fox Chase Recreation Center operates the largest summer camp in the city with four two-week sessions attended by 140 kids each.
During the school year, the center operates an after school program attended by more than 60 kids.
Bocchiccio credits his mentor: “ John Curry had a large part in offering a wide variety of programs initially and through the years, the staff has adjusted to community needs and wants and have continued to offer a diverse and wide array of programming.”
Bocchiccio, a 13-year veteran of the recreation department, succeeded Curry at Fox Chase. “I believe that you can attribute most of Fox Chase’s success directly to him and feel that it is my job to keep his vision going,” Bocchiccio said. “John arrived shortly after the death of Eddie Polec and transformed the playground into a safe haven for the kids of the neighborhood. Of course, John had help from his fellow employees, the Advisory Council and the community at large. John brought Fox Chase from a playground to a full blown Recreation Center. It’s that legacy and community involvement that makes the Recreation Center the success that it is.”
Dennis Lafferty of Fox Chase brings his two sons to the roller hockey rink when the weather cools down. “I didn’t have this type of facility growing up; it’s great for the kids,” he said. “The recreation center is great for the community. My sons also play in the summer and fall basketball leagues.”
Buck McDermott and his family were visiting in-laws in Fox Chase and the kids had to come to the playground. “It is an amazingly great recreation facility and the kids love the spray dragon,” he said.
During the summer, Mayor Michael Nutter ordered 20 recreation centers open until 10 p.m. on weekend nights. “It did not directly affect Fox Chase because we are open on every Saturday night throughout the year,” Bocchicco explained. “The city, in coordination with the Advisory Council, keeps the facility open until 10 p.m. This gives the neighborhood youth a safe, clean and ready to use facility to go to on a Saturday night.”
Bocchiccio credits an active advisory council and strong community based groups for the success of FCRC. The friendly environment at the center is a reflection of the positive interaction between the staff and members of the community.
“In my opinion, the ‘success’ of a community can be directly attributed to its local recreation center,” he said. “The recreation center is the epicenter of the Fox Chase community. We take pride in our recreation center and instill that pride in the children that come through our doors each day. ”