General Membership Meeting, Monday 2/23

Friends of Clark Park’s quarterly General Membership meeting — rescheduled from January — will be held at 7:00 pm on Monday, February 23rd in Rosenberger Hall*.  Our General Membership meetings are the opportunity for all members of the organization to hear about issues in the Park, and plans for upcoming improvements and events.  Some of the topics that are on the agenda for Monday include:  Party in the Park (May 16th), grant applications — both pending and funded, the bike share station planned for the Park, and the 4224 zoning meeting.

Please join us!  More participation means a better Park for all of us!

*Rosenberger Hall is the brick building just south of the basketball courts on 43rd Street.

Celebrate Charles Dickens’ 203rd Birthday in (and Near) Clark Park

Sunday, February 8, 2 Pm, Griffith Hall, east side of 43rd just north of Woodland, Free Admission

Dickens fans and neighbors of Clark Park are organizing this year’s fun, festive Charles Dickens Birthday Party. You’re cordially and merrily invited to join us! Sponsored by The Friends of Clark Park, we’re having an afternoon of drama and music near the site of Frank Elwell’s beautiful sculpture of Dickens and Little Nell.

photo (3) The indoor, on-stage portion of the festivities will be held in Griffith Hall of the University of the Sciences, 43rd and Kingsessing, across the street from the southern tip of Clark Park. Admission is free.

Actors Ceil Mann and Larry Beck, along with members of the Curio Theater Company, will perform scenes from The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist. Young Sophie Pettit, accompanied by her father, the writer and local Dickens ambassador Edward G. Pettit, will enact a scene from The Old Curiosity Shop. We’ll also have a special performance inspired by the new benches recently installed at the statue. Several Dickens fans will read the quotations emblazoned on the benches and they’ll give us a taste of the scenes from which the quotes were “lifted.”

The dramatic program is followed by treats for all, Dickensian socializing, and a performance by the Kingsessing Morris Men, first place winners in the comic division at the 2012 Mummers Parade.

Finally, the Morris dancers will lead a procession to the statue where youngsters will decorate Dickens and Little Nell with wreaths and we’ll sing “Happy Birthday.”

West Philadelphians who have grown up, and grown older, in the Clark Park neighborhood have come to respect and admire the bronze statue of Dickens. Created in 1890 by renowned sculptor Frank Elwell, it was installed in Clark Park in 1901. For most of the time since then, it’s been the world’s only public statue of Dickens, due to the novelist’s request that no memorials or statues be erected in his honor. So, to recognize the statue’s special role in our neighborhood’s history, and to pay homage to a great writer, we throw a birthday party every year!

The program begins at 2 pm sharp and ends an hour and a half later. Do come and join us!



Monday, 1/26, is the date for a very important Spruce Hill Community Association zoning committee meeting where they will discuss the development project at 4224 Baltimore Ave. That meeting, which is open to anyone, is 7 PM at the Spruce Hill center (257 S. 45th Street). See you there!

We’ll now have the Friends of Clark Park general membership meeting Monday, 2/23, in Rosenberger Hall at USciences, the little building in the park on the west side of 43rd Street a bit above Woodland, 7 PM.

Update: now the Spruce Hill zoning meeting is cancelled, too, due to the weather. No meetings tonight.

General meeting next Monday, 1/26, 7 PM at USciences Griffith Hall (rescheduled to 2/23, see above)

Don’t forget to come to the Friends of Clark Park general membership meeting next Monday, 1/26 (now Monday, 2/23), at 7 PM! It’s in Griffith Hall (now Rosenberger Hall), the big University of the Sciences building on the east side of 43rd Street just above Woodland.

We’ll discuss the imminent Clark Park bike share station, congratulate ourselves on all the mulching we’ve done recently, talk about long-term plans for statuary in the park, and so much more!

Protestors Will Stage a Die-In in Clark Park This Saturday

A West Philly Families Solidarity March will proceed from Calvary to Clark Park tomorrow, Saturday, Jan 3.

Due to rain, they are moving the first part of the program indoors! Entrance on 48th St. They will have speakers, songs and noise-in in the church.

After noise-in, they will MARCH TO CLARK PARK to stay, play and connect.

They hope this will allow more families to participate if it is raining, and support in building community indoors. They also hope to raise their voices and be visible outside as they march to Clark Park, rain or shine, for those up for it.

The action in the park should last no longer than 45 minutes.

Holy Night – but Not Silent in Clark Park…

carols 14-1Clark Park lovers joined tonight in one of the oldest park traditions: Christmas caroling by the shed, on top of which a glittering Christmas tree is mounted. As dusk fell, it shone over three score merry carolers of all ages.

Skill was unimportant; just singing together as a community mattered.

A row of bagged candles lit the walk from Chester Ave. to the shed. Everyone got a candle and a songbook when they arrived.

Carolers ran through a hitlist that ran from the Middle Ages to 1950. Most are well known by ear to all who show up.
carols 14-2
To wrap it up, nine brave voices worked their way through Handel’s Alleluia Chorus. Scores were provided but otherwise the volunteers were on their own. The chorus was strong this year.

Then everybody broke for hot cider and catching up. It’s a great, quick, fun way to meet your neighbors.

–Tony West

Sunday Morning Mulching Flash Mob!

attacking the mulch mountainThe Chinese Community Church did a great job spreading the mountain of specialized mulch under the trees besides the Farmers’ Market this morning! This high-grade material will help protect the soil that FRIENDS OF CLARK PARK has just treated with an aeration process, to reduce compacting by severe overuse alongside the Farmers’ Market.

There’s more mulching to be done Sunday morning, though – beside the totlot. It would be wonderful if a few people could volunteer for a couple of hours’ work to help restore and protect this other popular spot. Meet at 9am at the shed, or head over to the totlot.

And don’t forget the annual Christmas caroling at sunset!

Come a-Caroling in Clark Park This Sunday!

herald angelsHark the Herald Angels Sing … in CLARK PARK at the annual Tree Lighting & Carol Sing on Sunday, Dec. 14 at 5 pm at the Community Christmas Tree near 45th & Regent St., atop the shed.

This wonderful, longstanding event draws 75 people each year as a hushed winter night falls. We sing traditional favorites (lyrics provided). At the end, a few venturous souls try to sing the Alleluia Chorus; it’s both charming & funny.

Hot-cider refreshments come thanks to the Friends of Clark Park.

Feed the trees! Help spread mulch this Sunday, 12/14, 9 AM to 1 PM

How to volunteer this Sunday

Meet by the shed in the park where Regent Street meets 45th Street south of Chester at 9 AM this Sunday, 12/14, to spread some mulch. You can come late. We’ll probably be working until about 2 PM. After 9, just come directly to the mulch pile at 43rd and Baltimore.

Contact Doug, or 814-880-0875, with questions.


The occasion for this mulch spreading is very exciting.

We just got the big tree roots by the farmer’s market aerated! This means that tree-care professionals, Hal Rosner and Shechtman Tree Care, used an air spade to inject air into the ground around the roots. The technique alleviates soil compaction, admits air, water, and nutrients from compost, and stimulates biological activity. Cross Baltimore Tree Tenders, and the various arborists, landscape architects, and other experts who volunteer for the park, identified this work as a priority.

After an aeration is the perfect time to lay down mulch. We are putting down heaps of compost, provided by our hard-working and reliable contacts at the city, and an engineered wood fiber mulch that excels at absorbing impact.

We needed this work because the ground on the west side of the sidewalk along 43rd Street from Baltimore to Chester deals with a lot of foot traffic, due to the popularity of the park and the farmer’s market. While we’re thrilled with the park’s success, we need to do things like air spading to address the wear and tear on the soil.

Friends of Clark Park spent about $1,950, plus a catalyzing grant of $750 from Cross Baltimore Tree Tenders, on the aeration. We dedicated about another $1,600 to buy the special wood fiber mulch. This is a major and carefully considered effort for the Friends, and is exactly the type of stewardship we were organized to undertake!

Some ground will be roped off

While the nutrients from the city-donated compost seep into the aerated roots, we want to protect them from being walked on. We are roping off some of the ground on the opposite side of the sidewalk from the farmer’s market, for most of the winter.

This will not interfere with the farmer’s market. In fact, we had the Foot Trust in mind when we scheduled this project, since through the winter there are fewer vendors, so everyone can fit on the east side of the 43rd Street sidewalk.

You can find the stalwart Food Trust Clark Park farmer’s market every Saturday through the winter, same place as always, 10 AM to 2 PM. And you can look forward to rejuvenated, healthy soil come spring, and strong trees with happy roots for many generations to come!