Without more volunteers, next year’s Mt. Airy Day could be in peril

Having just wrapped up a successful 43rd annual Mt. Airy Day, East Mt. Airy Neighbors (EMAN) board members expressed fear that the responsibility is more than the organizers alone can handle on Tuesday night.

“There’s some question whether we can keep it up, if the community doesn’t help out more,” said EMAN President, Kent Reichert at Tuesday evening’s Board of Directors meeting.

Organizing co-chair and EMAN board member Janet Amato estimated about 3,000 people attended Saturday’s Mt. Airy Day. Plus, there were more vendors than last year, too.

Pony rides and the moon bounce were very popular with families, requiring volunteers to man three ticket lines. An overall lack of volunteers caused organizers to forgo plans for a ring toss and children’s’ craft table.

The free event is jointly organized each year by EMAN and West Mt. Airy Neighbors (WMAN). Over the years it has evolved from a laid-back community picnic to a vendor and activities-filled day dedicated to celebrating the neighborhood’s diversity, said Amato.

Mt. Airy Day traces its origins back to 1968. In those days it was held at the Mt. Airy Playground, and later on the campus of the former Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (now New Covenant Campus). The festival moved to the Cliveden National Trust in 1993, because a Sunday rain date would have inconvenienced New Covenant’s parishioners. Amato recalled how in the 1970s, EMAN and WMAN members would serve up hotdogs and hamburgers they grilled themselves on the playground.

Putting on Mt. Airy Day has become “exponentially harder”, said EMAN executive director, Elayne Bender. Nowadays, there is much more to do to run the festival with fewer folks to help.

EMAN would like to continue to celebrate the neighborhood, but the community needs to show support for the event, Bender said. Without extra manpower, the organizers are not physically capable to continue Mt. Airy Day.

“Those are the stakes”, Reichert noted.

Other business

EMAN is collecting recipe submissions for a community cookbook. Those interested in sharing their own kitchen creations will soon be able to submit up to three recipes through EMAN’s website. The cookbook, which has yet to be named, will be published in time for winter holiday gift giving. EMAN plans to sell the books as a fundraiser, priced between $10 and $12.

The election of new board members will occur at next month’s board meeting, which will also serve as EMAN’s annual meeting. The organization, whose bylaws allow up to 36 board members, currently has 11 serving on its board. EMAN is hoping to increase those ranks by 10 people.

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