NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP >> Thousands jammed Sycamore Street on Sunday for the rescheduled Welcome Day bringing with it a sea of color, delicious smells and summer excitement.
While the day turned out to be a hot one, Newtown Business Association leaders weren’t sweating the heat. They were just ecstatic that it didn’t rain, like on May 5 when wet weather postponed the event.
And by every account, it was worth the wait from the live music filling the street to the smell of freshly popped popcorn wafting through the air and the many booths lining the street spotlighting local businesses, artisans and local restaurants.
The event, organized by the Newtown Business Association, is designed to spotlight 18940 and to encourage residents to support their hometown, homegrown businesses.
The centerpiece of the event are the more than 200 vendors lining the street and spotlighting a mix of nonprofits, local businesses and artisans.
The event kicked off with opening ceremonies in front of Fred Beans Ford led by the presentation of the colors by the Newtown American Legion, the National Anthem sung by the Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Society and greetings from Welcome Day co-chairs Beverly Dimler of All Time Self Storage and Fred Poritsky from FZP Digital.
They were joined on stage by State Senator Steve Santarsiero, State Representatives Perry Warren and Wendi Thomas, Newtown Borough Mayor Corky Swartz, Newtown Township Supervisor John Mack and NBA President Bill Sheffer.
“Today is a glorious day,” said State Rep. Perry Warren. “This is a great way to celebrate the start of the Fourth of July week by buying local and supporting the many businesses that call 18940 home.”
Sheffer encouraged the crowd to enjoy the day and to support local businesses, referencing a sign in the window of a downtown Newtown shop that reminds everyone to “Buy Local, Or Bye, Bye Local.
“This is great,” said Sheffer after the ceremony as Welcome Day shifted into high gear. “Look around you. The street is crowded, the sun is shining and people are smiling. This is a great day for Newtown and a great day for 18940.
“Those who have said for many years we shouldn’t do this in June because of weddings and graduations have been proven wrong today. Look down the street. It’s a wall of people. Our Rising Star competition has the most participants ever. The moon bounce at the end of the street has a line to Washington Crossing. It’s a great crowd.”
Sheffer gave kudos for the success to the Welcome Day committee, which brought it all together and accepted the challenge of rescheduling the event.
“We had five months to plan the first event. We had five weeks to plan and reboot,” he said. “My hat’s off to the committee chairs and members who worked so hard getting back on schedule.
“All in all, I think we’re going to stick with June from now on,” added Sheffer. “Mother Nature doesn’t know the difference between April and the first weekend in May. And scheduling around graduations, weddings and parties is easier than scheduling around the rain.”
Everywhere you looked, from a balloon artist to the Goodnoe ice cream truck, there were smiles everywhere.
They were even dancing in the street in front of the Dentists of Newtown.
Members of the Riley School of Irish Dance kicked up their heels, performing Irish Step Dancing for the Welcome Day crowds.
Nearby, at one of the busiest booths on the street, Chris Bannerman was fielding question after question about Newtown’s first brewery slated to open in mid-September at 103 Penns Trail.
Bannerman, the general manager of the Newtown Brewing Company, was handing out cards entitling the holders to a free pint when the brewery and 5,000 square foot taproom open this fall.
“Everyone’s excited,” said Bannerman. “The owners are incredibly excited. The public is excited. Everyone’s talking about it. The hype is just through the roof right now.”
Bannerman said the taproom will feature a rotating schedule of lagers, IPAs, Belgian, wheat, stouts, pale ales and some fun, experimental brews as well. And there will be cider, wines and spirit selections as well.
“We’re going to have a weekly rotation of food trucks, including a Maine Lobster truck,” said Bannerman. “We’re going to have live music. We’re going to be doing movie nights, open mic nights and all sorts of good stuff.”
Meanwhile, just down the street at Fred Beans Ford, the moment of truth had arrived for the contestants in this year’s Rising Star competition organized by the Newtown Business Association as part of Welcome Day.
After singing their hearts out, MC Eric Scott Gold joined judges Paul Teufel, Newton Gilchrist and Paul Venanzi in announcing this year’s winners - Danielle Harrington of Newtown in the adult category and Tierney Drake of Yardley in the Junior category.
Both received a $150 cash prize and bragging rights as the winners of the Welcome Day Rising Star completion.
“I am freaking out,” said Harrington, who blew the judges away with “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + the Machine. “This is a big deal to me. This means a lot,” said Harrington, who teaches at the Tacony Academy Charter School in Philadelphia. “I’ve never won something at this level before. And the other singers were just amazing. I thought I’d come in fifth. They were all so, so good.”
Tierney, a rising sophomore at Pennsbury High School where she is a member of the school chorus, wowed the judges with her performance of “Rise Up” by Andra Day.
Tierney, the daughter of Kristen and Tom Drake of Lower Makefield and a member of the Princeton Girl Choir, was the unanimous choice of the judges
“I’m shocked,” said Tierney. “I didn’t even think about what happened if I won. I was just doing it for fun.”
Next up for the NBA is its annual Newtown Antique & Classic Auto Show, which rolls onto State Street in Historic Newtown Borough on Sunday, July 21 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.