Mt. Airy’s Blocktoberfest revives a past tradition

The West Mt. Airy Neighbors (WMAN) allowed residents to literally walk – and run – down memory lane in an event reminiscent of Mt. Airy’s and the organization’s earlier days.

WMAN’s first annual Blocktoberfest Day gave many a chance to partake in block parties across the neighborhood as well as a five-mile run and a two-mile walk. Executive Director Marilyn Cohen says the idea came from walk and talks the neighborhood had long ago.

“The people who have lived here for a long time understand the commitment that West Mt. Airy made to being diverse and accepting and not allowing prejudices of any type to dominate here,” she said. “While it’s wonderful to have new people moving into the neighborhood, it’s also a great opportunity with the block parties to let people know what West Mt. Airy really stands for, that we intend to be a model community.”

Sharon Corbin, who organized a small block party at the intersection of Lincoln Drive and Allens Lane, says she heard of these walk and talks, but isn’t certain as to when they started.

“I lived here 25 years and it was before I lived here,” she said. “One of our neighbors, for years, she’d have us a potluck brunch. And when I talked to her about this day she said ‘well [the old walk and talks ending years ago are] why I do my brunch.'”

Not only was the race to bring neighbors together like the good ole’ days and encourage fitness, but it was also a fundraiser for WMAN, Cohen said.

WMAN has been battling budget woes for a few years now and recently cut back the deficit by $30,000.

About 80 people came out at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday for either the five- or two-mile run or walk—which began and ended at the Allens Lane train station with Weavers Way as a halfway point.

It wasn’t necessary to close roads, but four police cars and a couple officers on bikes redirected traffic in some areas.

Cohen says she hopes for the race to gain more popularity and become bigger in the coming years.

In July there were talks of WMAN, East Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill joining forces to have a larger race throughout the three neighborhoods, but that fell through due to the other areas already having plans for the particular time of the year. However, Cohen says, there may be a chance for all three to combine forces in the coming years.

Meanwhile, the participants of the race—and block parties—said they hope the event gains more popularity.

Though Mt. Airy resident Leslie Winder’s block didn’t have a party, she says she liked being able to wander neighborhoods and talk with friends at their block parties.

“I think it’s a great idea, I hope that they get enough positive response and feedback that this becomes an annual thing,” said Winder. “The run was a good way to kick it off.”

Ron Sienn, a resident of a block on Upsal Street that got permitting to close it down to traffic, said he was glad to have been able to meet two new neighbors.

“Everyone’s busy and it’s a good way to get outside,” he said. “I’m really pleased I got to know a few people on the block who just moved in.”

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