Spring festival draws hundreds to Germantown’s Maplewood Mall

More than 400 people browsed through vendors row and enjoyed performances by local artists at Saturday afternoon’s Re-Imagine Maplewood Mall Spring Festival.

The event, hosted by Germantown United CDC (GUCDC), was held in the nook (located between Chelten Ave. and Armat St. and Germantown Ave. and Greene St.) slated to undergo a $2.2 million redesign in coming months.

Garlen Capita, GUCDC’s board president, said beautiful weather and a unique mix of activities, including performances by the Give and Take Little Circus Show, drew residents to a volunteer-driven event highlighting the best of Germantown.

“It was a great turnout. It was just a beautiful day for it, and people just kept coming and going,” Capita said. “There were lots of Germantown artists and performers. We have all of this amazing talent in Germantown, and this was a great place to showcase it.”

Bringing locals (and visitors) together

Longtime Germantown resident Audrey Tucker said she was moved to see so many residents embrace the once-neglected space.

“It’s nice to feel the energy and to have people out on Maplewood Mall,” Tucker said. “Just being back here, I’m getting a little emotional because I remember [that] for a while, this place was just dead. On the poles that say Maplewood Mall, there was just graffiti. This is really a wonderful change.”

Kelly McGovern and her son came from Northeast Philadelphia to attend.

“I enjoy this because it gives me time to get out with my son, and it’s a festival that’s free,” noted the single parent who stopped by one of the more peculiar vendor offerings: Handwriting analyses by lifelong Germantown resident Elizabeth Johnson.

For $5, Johnson told attendees what their handwriting said about their personalities, lifestyles and even careers.

“There’s a school of thought that says if you change your handwriting, you can change different things about yourself,” she claimed. “I’ve been doing this for years for family and friends, and for events like this. The more I do it, the more I can see patterns.”

What’s next?

Johnson was one of many festivalgoers who expressed hope for it to become an annual event.

“I love seeing the community come out and do something positive together,” she said. “Seeing neighbors and friends all celebrating life together is awesome. I hope they do this more often.”

Capita said the CDC will need all the support it can get in order to host the event consistently.

“A lot of people asked if this was an annual event,” Capita said. “This is our third one, and we hope to make it an annual event, but we need a lot more support and a lot more people to come together in order to really make it happen.”

On festival’s eve, Matt Wysong, the Northwest community planner for the City Planning Commission, announced that a lead consultant and landscape-architecture firm had been selected for the $2.2 million revitalization project at the central Germantown location.

Design and engineering is expected to be completed in May 2015, with construction to follow.

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