NEWTOWN >> What organizers feared could be another rainy and wet Welcome Day turned out to be the best ever for the Newtown Business Association.
While the sun remained hidden behind a canopy of grey clouds throughout the day, temperatures hung in the lower 70s making for a pleasant walk along Sycamore Street, the centerpiece of Newtown’s “Street Fair With Flair.”
The perfect weather and the large crowds jamming Sycamore Street prompted NBA President Beverly Dimler to proclaim this year’s Welcome Day “the best ever.”
After two rainy Welcome Days in a row, Dimler, who co-chaired this year’s event with Fred Poritsky and Candace Quinn, was justifiably thrilled by the change in the weather, which never did produce the showers that were forecast to fall.
So instead of dodging raindrops, Dimler spent an extremely busy morning handing out homemade Rice Krispie treats at her booth promoting All-Time Self-Storage. By 1 p.m., she had give away the last of the 300 sticky sweet treats, which have become a popular Welcome Day item.
“This year, our prayers were answered,” said Dimler. “We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. It’s not to hot. It’s not too cold. It’s just right.”
All along a crowded Sycamore Street, from Washington Avenue to Durham Road, thousands explored a record number of vendors, from The First National Bank of Newtown and the Newtown United Methodist Church to Jungle Joe and his animal friends, including Archer, an owl monkey, and their newest addition, a baby wallaby born in December.
Live entertainment filled the street with music and dancing while the smell of Kettle Korn wafted through the air.
In front of the Sycamore Street Grill, Bart Standing Elk formed a giant Friendship Circle and led young and old in a Native American tribal dance.
At the middle stage next to the Saloon, the Greater Kensington String Band had visitors strutting through the street to its uniquely Philadelphia sound.
Among the newer faces at this year’s event was the team from Capital Health, including Council Rock graduate Rebecca Kelly. They were there to promote the health system and its local community outreach programs, including a free concussion program on May 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Newtown Athletic Club. The presenter is Dr. Emil Matarese. To register, call 609-394-4153.
Down the street, Welcome Day crowds watched as Lancaster County craftsman Randy Meckley demonstrated broom making using a more than 150 year old broom press.
Not far away, Bruce Roth of Sycamore Kitchens was spending a busy day talking with former and prospective customers and promoting his remodeling services.
Roth started Sycamore Kitchens a little more than a decade ago after leaving a position with Toll Brothers at the peak of the housing boom in Bucks County.
It’s businesses like Sycamore Kitchen that form the backbone of today’s thriving Greater Newtown Business community, said District Judge Mick Petrucci as he emceed the day’s opening ceremonies in front Bill Marsh Ford. “It’s all about the 18940,” he said.
The ceremony opened with “God Bless America” performed by seven-year-old Mahita Pendota, music by the Greater Kensington String Band, the posting of the colors by Newtown American Legion Post 440 and the Star Spangled Banner performed by members of the Council Rock High School North Choir.
Petrucci was joined on stage by Mayor Charles “Corky” Swartz and State Rep. Perry Warren along with the Welcome Day organizers.
Event co-chair Fred Poritsky, of FZP Digital, thanked his co-chairs and the Welcome Day committee for the hard work. And he recognized the “unsung heroes” of the event - the police department, the fire department and public works - for their help and support.
“This day is all about keeping it local,” said Poritsky. “Keep it local 18940. Shop here. Eat here. Live here. It’s a great place to be,” he said.
“You’re right, Fred. I’ve been saying it for years. It’s all about the 18940,” said Petrucci. “We have such a great business community here. We have something for everyone. There’s no reason to leave Newtown.”
Mayor Swartz, donning his summer straw hat, echoed the previous speakers by encouraging everyone to shop local. He also thanked the NBA volunteers who worked hard to make Welcome Day happen and he encouraged everyone to enjoy the day. “Enjoy Newtown,” he said. “It’s all about the 18940,” he said.
Warren also expressed his appreciation to everyone who made the event possible and commended the NBA for its support of small business, which he called “the lifeblood of our economy.”
As morning transitioned to fternoon, the fun and excitement along the street continued with street performances by BC Discoveries Dance and Theatre and strolling barbershop singers.
Highlighting the afternoon was the return of the Rising Star competition as 13 individuals, including three adults and 10 in the grades seven and above category competed for prizes.
Capturing first among the grades seven and above category was Newtown’s own Cecilia Kern, a seventh grader who wowed the judges with her vocals.
Winning first among the adults was vocalist Hannah Brady, a graduate of South Hunterdon Regional High School in Lambertville, N.J., who now lives in Mexico. She performed “I’d rather go blind” by Etta James.
“The Rising Star competition did not disappoint. All of the contestants were absolutely fantastic and very talented,” said Petrucci who served as a judge. “For the adult category Hannah stood out from the crowd. She was that good. And for the younger category, there was not a lot of deliberation. We agreed who the winner was. They were all absolutely fantastic and they made Newtown look good today,” he said.
Next up for the NBA will be its Summer Car Show which rolls onto historic State Street in Newtown Borough on Sunday, July 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will feature more than 160 cars in all makes and models from 1900 to 1993; this year’s marque car will be the Cadillac. The rain date is July 22.
Registration is now being taken for cars from all decades (model years up to 1993 only). Interested participants can save $10 with online pre-registration at www.NewtownBA.org; the fee is $15 through June 30. Cars may register the day of the event at a fee of $25 for any remaining spaces. Registration forms may be downloaded and sent with the registration fee; the early $15 fee applies to entries received via mail by June 30. The deadline for car show sponsorship is June 15.
For details, event and trophy sponsorship opportunities and online car registration, visit www.NewtownBA.org. Any questions can be directed to the event’s Committee Chair, Rich Napoli at 267-753-2711.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect the correct winner of the Rising Star Competition (grade seven and above).