Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Back Before Moving Forward

This week every network TV channel--and a few of the others--are running news segments titled something like "A Look Back At 2014."  Most are video mash-ups and nothing more, and most of the videos are of events that were so unimportant, we shouldn't be trying to remember them at all.

I hate looking backward, at least, not so soon. I'm a history buff, after all. A few decades from now it might be good to look back and see what things really made a difference. And of course, we ought to try to remember mistakes, so we don't make them again. But I think people tend to look back at a year, or in Norristown's case, a half century, simply because it's easier than looking forward.

Still, let's take one last look at 2014, without the aid of videos or notes jotted on calendars or anything else. Think about what stands out in your mind about what was good and bad in N-town this past year.

The first thing that jumps to mind for me was the Arts Hill Festival. Attendance was better than previous years--I even saw a few cyclists wheeling their bikes up from the Schuylkill River Trail to attend. The vendors all seemed to be selling well. Only one band seemed to think they owned the street and could drown out all the other performances. All the other performers were well coordinated, and the ones I heard/saw were really good. The festival had an established feel to it this year, which can only bode well for the future.

The next things that come to mind were the make-overs of Selma Mansion and Riverfront Park. At Selma this past year, all the exterior wood was painted, all the rotted wood replaced, the downspouts repaired, and the garden got some much needed TLC. It's only phase one in the restoration of the mansion, but what a difference in appearance.

Riverfront's entrance got a great, fresh paint job, courtesy of the Dragon Boat Club, plus they fixed up the island in the parking area, adding a walkway and benches, and containers of flowers all over the park.

Elmwood Park added more attractions this year, both in the form of new animals and new activities, not to mention Noah the Eagle being chosen to be the Philadelphia Eagles live mascot.

Ghost Tours at Selma also felt more established this year. Attendance was double what it was in past years.

The more we establish events and activities, the more visitors we can attract from out of town. Five Saints Distillery will be another attraction. Once visitors are here, though, we ought be sure to give them info about what they can come back for. Norristown is fast developing a visitor economy. Let's run with that.

Bad things? A few. The flood that ruined much of the Dragon Boat Club's equipment, which curtailed activities that would have taken place at Riverfront this year. The cancelling of the July 4th parade too soon. The loss of another of our historic register buildings--Montgomery Hospital. The approval of developments too dense for our infrastructure to handle. No matter which bad things you can think of, they all have one common feature--all of them, even the acts of God, can teach us something if we let them.

Oh, and maybe best of all, crime in Norristown is DOWN from 2013. Violent crime is down SIGNIFICANTLY.

So there's 2014 in a nutshell. Learn from the bad, build on the good, and 2015 will be a great year for us.

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