Monday, August 31, 2015

Markley Street Reopening

Just a quick note today to say that Markley Street will be reopening to 2-way traffic this coming Friday, September 4th.  Yay!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Family Fun, a Block Party, and 2 Nights of Jazz

Everyone seems to have gone into August doldrums, including Blogger, which isn't letting me post photos with my Diary this morning. I'll post them later if it lets me.  In Norristown, the only energy is on the East End, at 216 Cherry Street, and at the Library. No one else seems to be doing anything for Fourth Friday or much of the rest of the weekend. But here are a few things happening around town if you're not stuck in the doldrums, too.

Today (Friday) from 11 am to noon at the Courthouse, you're invited to the Kick Off Event for the Philadelphia Museum Of Art Inside Out Program, followed by a walking tour of 5 of the exhibits.  More info at this link.

Tonight, 6-9 pm at Scag Cottman Park, Family Fun Friday, hosted by Buck Jones in association with Main St. Water Ice for all kids ages 6-13. Movies, food, games and entertainment. More info call 267-774-1694.

Tonight is also Fourth Friday, though the only event I could find for it is at Jazz on Cherry Street (216 Cherry). They're hosting Cedric Napoleon and Friends from 7-10 pm. Tickets $15, available at this link

Saturday from 10 am–2 pm at the Norristown Library. Backpacks and school supplies will be available upstairs in the Children’s Department on a first come, first served basis.

Sunday from 11 am-dusk at Simmons Park (Oak and Arch), Community Block Party. $5 for adults, kids eat free. Double Dutch contest, Tug-o'-war. Volunteers and donations needed.  More info at this link.

Saturday from 7-11 pm, Jazz on Cherry (216 Cherry) will be hosting saxophonist Sam Peake and singer/songwriter Te'Naj and the Expressmen. Tickets $20. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Centre Theater Music School. Cash bar or BYOB. Setups and food available for purchase. For more info contact Jill Adelman at or call 610-277-9125 ext 307.

Sunday starting at 7 pm, the FREE Concert in Elmwood Park this week features Norristown's own Verdi Band. Bring a lawn chair or blanket. Refreshments available at the concession stand.

Tuesday from 6:30-7:30 pm at the Norristown Public Library, introduction to acting and theater for kids in grades 3-6. For info, contact the Children's Department, 610-278-5100, EXT 205 or

Tuesday at 7:30 pm at Municipal Hall, Council Meeting. No agenda listed yet.

The Library has many more programs this week. Check their calendar at the link in the right column.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Congratulations to Theatre Horizon!

As you may remember from last year, the Barrymore Awards are given for excellence in professional theater in the Philadelphia region. With the huge number of professional theaters in the city and surrounding counties, a Barrymore nomination is a big thing.

I'm pleased to say that our own Theatre Horizon this year has received a total of NINETEEN Barrymore nominations for their productions of "In the Blood" and "Into The Woods." They had at least one nomination in the majority of categories and more than one for "Into The Woods" under Best Supporting Actor and Actress.

Here are the details:


Outstanding Overall Production of a Play
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play: Akeem Davis
Outstanding Direction of a Play: Pirronne Yousefzadeh
Outstanding Scenic Design: Brian Dudkiewicz
Outstanding Lighting Design: Cecilia Durbin
Outstanding Ensemble in a Play
Virginia Brown Martin Philadelphia Award


Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical
Outstanding Direction of a Musical: Matthew Decker
Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical: Steve Pacek
Outstanding Leading Actress in a Musical: Rachel Camp
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical: Alex Bechtel
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical: Charlie DelMarcelle
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical: Michael Doherty
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical: Liz Filios
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical: Leigha Kato
Outstanding Costume Design: Lauren Perigard
Outstanding Music Direction: Amanda Morton
Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical

The awards will be announced on November 2nd at the Merriam Theater. Please join me in congratulating Theatre Horizon and wishing them the best. They do Norristown proud.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Inside Out Art Comes To Town

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has decided to turn our 5-county region into a huge outdoor gallery and Norristown is part of it this fall. If you can't get to the museum, no problem. The museum has come to us.

The Inside Out program provides 60 high quality reproductions of classical works of art from the Museum’s collection to be displayed outdoors in certain communities throughout the area. Norristown has been selected to receive 11 of these works for the fall exhibition (now through November). You may have already seen some of them around town. I hope all of you realize how special this program is and how good it is for our town.

Here's the list of works and locations:

1. Painting No. 4 (A Black Horse) by Marsden Hartley (1915) at Norristown Municipal Hall (235 E Airy)
2. The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1898) at Theatre Horizon (410 Dekalb)
3. The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1834-35) at the Old Montgomery County Prison (E Airy and Maris Sts)
4. Grand Canyon of the Colorado River by Thomas Moran (1892 and 1908) at the Courthouse (Airy and Swede)
5. Bust of Benjamin Franklin by Jean-Antoine Houdon (1779) at the Main St Parking Garage
6. Poplars on the Bank of the Epte River by Claude Monet (1891) at the Norristown Transportation Center.

7. Lotus by a Korean artist of the Joseon Dynasty (19th century) at the Montco Intermediate Unit (2 W. Lafayette)
8. The Kiss by Constantin Brancusi (1916) at Poley Park (W Marshall and Markley)
9. Portrait of Master Bunbury by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1780-81) at Selma Mansion (1301 W Airy)
10. Sugar Cane by Diego Rivera (1931) at Elmwood Park (near the bandshell)
11. Noah's Ark by Edward Hicks (1846) at Elmwood Park Zoo (right beside the entrance gate)

You can download the Norristown Inside Out map at this link.

As I said, the works of art will be on display until November, but don't wait. With the nice weather we've been having, this is the perfect time to go explore these works on your lunch hours or in the early evenings or on weekend afternoons. Take your time, examine them, enjoy them. Most important: BRING YOUR KIDS.

And hey, no admission fee, no trouble getting into the city or finding parking near the Art Museum, no having to climb a zillion steps to get inside (unless you LIKE pretending you're Rocky).

If you like what you see, the other communities this fall include Fishtown, Ambler, Wayne, and West Chester. You can download maps to all of them at this link

Friday, August 21, 2015

Music/Dance All Weekend, Famous Art Next Week

Tonight, 6-9 pm at Scag Cottman Park, Family Fun Friday, hosted by Buck Jones in association with Main St. Water Ice for all kids ages 6-13. Movies, food, games and entertainment. More info call 267-774-1694. Enjoy Family Fun Friday while the good summer weather lasts.

Tonight from 7 -11 pm at 216 Cherry St (the usual Jazz on Cherry venue), Strategic Wear is hosting "The Listening Party." Hip Hop, Spoken Word, R&B, featuring some of the area's hottest talent. $10 admission. BYOB set-ups. For more information, contact Jill Adelman, or call 610-277-9125, ext 307.

Also tonight, same time (7-11 pm), same venue only upstairs (216 Cherry), Strategic Wear will also host Dance On Cherry, a light feet line dancing class. $10 admission. BYOB set-ups. For more information, contact Jill Adelman, or call 610-277-9125, ext 307. Listen downstairs, dance upstairs, go back and forth between the two.

Saturday, 9-11 am, volunteers needed for an alley clean-up for the 200 block of East Fornance and Poplar Sts. Just show up.

Saturday, 3-6 pm at the Elmwood Park bandshell, gospel choir festival.

Saturday, 7-11 pm at Coffee Talk Artist's Coop, 507 W Marshall. Open Stage/Open Mic to celebrate the music of the Woodstock Era. $5 . Contact 610-272-4811 for info.

Sweet Loretta Fat

Sunday starting at 7 pm at the Elmwood Park bandshell, this week's free concert will feature the Sweet Loretta Fat band (known for their Beatles tributes). Bring a lawn chair or blanket. Refreshments will be available at the concession stand.

Tuesday from 6:30-7:30 pm at CADCOM, (113 E Main, 2nd floor). EDU19401 Educational Workshop Series. This Tuesday will focus on Parental Involvement. Free Monthly event on every 3rd Tuesday. Food, giveaways, activities, etc. Contact Xaras Collins for info at

Tuesday starting at 7 pm, Zoning Board Hearing at Municipal Hall. The agenda is at this link.

Next Friday from 11 am to noon at the Courthouse, you're invited to the Kick Off Event for the Philadelphia Museum of Art Inside Out Program, followed by a walking tour of 5 of the exhibits. The Inside Out Program is placing reproductions of famous works of art around the Delaware Valley. Norristown has been selected to host 11 of these works, which is really exciting. I'll post more next week about the program, but you can read about it at this link.

Next Friday is also Fourth Friday. Jazz on Cherry and Salsa on Cherry will host events as usual (I'll post details next week), but as of this date, I haven't heard from any of the other venues. If you know of Fourth Friday events for next week, leave a comment below, or send it to me through Facebook and I'll publicize it. Otherwise, if no one shows up at your event, you've only got yourself to blame.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Norristown's Enemy Within

I used to travel a lot across America. In preparation for those trips, I'd look up the towns I'd visit ahead of time. Some had tourism websites, making it easy to find lodging, restaurants and attractions. If the towns were too small for that, I'd check to see if there was a local Chamber of Commerce, which I usually found.

For instance, the Adirondack Speculator Region Chamber of Commerce, whose businesses mostly cater to winter skiers and summer tourists looking for hiking trials and scenery. It covers 4 villages in New York State--combined population in 2010, about 1700. An area of several thousand square miles. The Chamber of Commerce helped get the word out on why people should come to the area, provided info on the kinds of businesses their visitors needed, and when I was there, seemed to be attracting new businesses to the area. From what I observed, their businesses were nothing fancy, but all seemed to be succeeding.

Norristown, with our population of more than 34,000 on only 4 square miles, can't even seem to keep together a loose association of businesses. When we do have a business association, it falls on one or 2 people to run it, with very little support from the business community they're trying to help. The West End Association helped to make West Marshall a lively, decent business district. Then when the one person who was most responsible for holding the organization together left town for a while, the group folded.

The Norristown Business Association took on the whole town, though this year concentrated their efforts downtown. Fourth Friday was beginning to work, Downtown Norristown was beginning to be noticed by outsiders. Instead of bad-mouthing us, outsiders were starting to say we were "coming back from the brink." The problem was, the majority of downtown businesses refused to support the NBA in any way. Even those who came to NBA meetings and took advantage of NBA programs--most never paid dues. You can't expect a business association to do publicity and host events and support the community when they have no funding.

Most of our businesses have too much of an every-man-for-himself attitude. They all seem to think that they don't need to be a part of the whole community. Their business is all that matters. So, you business owners out there, how many Norristonians do you employ? What do you contribute toward the health of Norristown's overall economy? How many patrons do you bring into town daily, and how many of them do you encourage to stay and spend their money elsewhere in town? Because the healthier the town's economy is as a whole, the more business you're personally going to rake in. Try to go it alone and you'll eventually fail. Then you'll claim it's someone else's fault. Maybe you'll blame Council. Maybe you'll say Norristown's always been doomed to fail. The one thing I know you won't do is blame yourselves and your stubborn refusal to see the big picture.

The last couple weeks, I've read in the Times Herald and on Facebook how certain business owners are claiming that Diva's Kitchen is getting special favors from Council. No one is reporting facts, so I don't know the whole story. In fact, that's another Norristown quirk--we'd rather not have facts. We'd rather come to our own fictional conclusions and feed the rumor mill.

On the issue, I will say that it's my understanding that the initial funds were part of a block grant to improve depressed properties. It's also my understanding that the grants are given to the property owners, not to tenants like Diva's Kitchen (though probably they were lined up as the tenant to help facilitate the grant).

You businesses out there whining that you got no money--did you apply for a block grant? If you didn't, maybe that's why no one's handing you taxpayer dollars.

I know that most of the people sniping about Diva's Kitchen don't know the owner. Here's what I know about her. She gets the big picture. She was a member in good standing of the NBA. When she committed to events, like the lunchtime portion of Fourth Friday, she showed up with her crew and her food, sometimes in adverse weather, when several other vendors who said they'd be there failed to show up at all, with no explanation. She regularly attended NBA meetings and mixers and tried to get to know others from the business community. When I was posting restaurant listings onto NBA's Facebook page, she'd be one of the first to Like or comment for every posting, even some of those businesses whose owners are currently bad-mouthing her business. She understands more than most of the rest of of our business community, that businesses have to band together and support each other if N-town is going to recover economically.

I for one, fervently wish she hadn't been talked into trying to move Diva's Kitchen downtown, and not only because I miss having her food in my neighborhood. Norristown can't afford to have a good business like Diva's Kitchen close its doors. And we need more owners like Temeka Murray, with her vision, and less like the businesses who this past week have been sounding like bratty, immature siblings, whining that somehow "Mom likes her best." I think the worse thing is that they make it sound like Diva's Kitchen is some evil corporate entity with political connections instead of who they are--a family who hasn't had a steady income from their business since this whole mess began. We ought to worry about that family instead of giving them a hard time. Business owners ought to be thinking, "What can I do to help keep more family businesses from failing, because that could so easily be me next time?"

Norristown needs a real business community, without all the petty bickering, with a proper Chamber of Commerce or a real Business Association, run jointly by our businesses instead of one or two people who have no funding. You might say, we've already got a Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, why do we need another? So what has Montco done for us lately? Nothing. Smaller surrounding communities, like King of Prussia and Conshohocken, have their own business organizations, and it's working for them. They know businesses can't survive in a vacuum.

As for you Norristown businesses out there who insist on being divisive, you'll no longer see support for your business here on the Diary. It's not good for Norristown. Frankly, I'm fed up with your whole attitude. Start acting like professionals.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Family Fun, Biyaking, More Italian Food, Etc.

Another busy weekend, but the times are staggered so you could get to everything if you wanted to. The weather's going to be great. Get out and enjoy. 

Tonight, 6-9 pm, Family Fun Friday at Scag Cottman Park (Basin & Violet Sts). Movies, food, games and entertainment, for kids ages 6-13. Presented by Buck Jones in association with Main St. Water Ice. For info, call 267-774-1694.

Saturday starting at 8:30 am, BIYAK on the Schuylkill at Riverfront Park. Bike 4 miles from Norristown to Betzwood, Kayak back to Norristown. Bring your own bike. $35 fee includes kayak, paddles, safety equipment and snacks. Participants will learn about the the Revolutionary River and its role in the American, Industrial and Environmental Revolutions. Tickets and info at this link. Prior registration a must.

Saturday from 11 am to 2 pm at the Carson Valley Children's Aid Society (1314 DeKalb St), Norristown Police will be partnering with the Montco Office of Children and Youth in a "Fathers Matter" initiative called "Back To School Kick-off With Dads." They'll be giving away school book bags and other supplies while supplies last. Father or father figure must accompany all kids. Hot dogs, DJ, photos, fun.

Sunday starting at about 2 pm is the 2nd Italian Festival of the summer, indoors at Savior Hall, Airy St between Violet and Walnut. Hosted by the MSS Club. Procession after the 11:30 am mass, then music, pork sandwiches, fried pizza and lots of other food.

Sunday, 7-9 pm, FREE concert at the Elmwood Park Bandshell will feature "Where's Pete" this week. Music: 60's to today. Bring a lawn chair or blanket. Refreshments available at concession stand.

Tuesday starting at 6:30 pm, Municipal Council Workshop in Council Chambers. No agenda yet.

You can make reservations now for the August 29 tour of Norristown’s historic Montgomery Cemetery. Tour will highlight and honor those who died in train accidents in the late 19th and early 20th century. Starts at 7 pm. Wine and cheese will be served in the Gatehouse after the tour. Tour cost: $10 per person. Participants must be at least 21. For reservations or more information: 610-272-0297 or

Registration is now open for the 2015-16 year of classes at ACPPA Community Arts Center (506 Haws Avenue). They offer a variety of dance, music, drama and visual arts courses for kids age 2-13 and for teens and adults, and their prices are lower than you'll find anywhere else in the area.  Go to this link for more information and to register. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

This Weekend Is Packed with Events

August in Norristown means cultural festivals. Between now and early September, you can enjoy Italian, Irish, Mexican and even Egyptian celebrations. Check out Norristown's rich mix of cultures.

Tonight at 5 pm, the first Italian festival of the summer begins at Holy Saviour Club, 436 East Main (across the street from Holy Saviour Church rectory--right down the block from Lou's Sandwich Shop. Park in the church lot across the street and walk down the club's driveway to the lot in back). The festival is 3 days, tonight from 5-11 pm, Saturday from 4-11 pm, and Sunday after the 11:30 am mass and procession (figure about 1:30 pm) until 9 pm. Carnival rides and games, live music, bocce, souvenirs, and best of all, Italian food: roast beef, roast pork (as good as Sessano's), meatballs, and sausage and pepper sandwiches, tomato pie, fried pizza (pizza dough deep fried and coated with sugar). Beer and birch beer on tap, wine plus other beverages. Lots more. No admission to the festival, just pay for food, rides, etc. separately. Go feed your inner Italian.

Tonight at 5:30 pm, End of the Summer Talent Show at Eisenhower Middle School, 1601 Markley. Join Camp Xtreme as they put on a talent show for the community and parents. All members of the community are welcome to attend to see what our children have learned this summer and see what talent they have been practicing. Doors open at 5 pm and there will be a concession stand serving hot dogs and hamburgers.

Also tonight, 6-9 pm, Family Fun Friday at Scag Cottman Park (Basin & Violet Sts). Movies, food, games and entertainment, for kids ages 6-13. Presented by Buck Jones in association with Main St. Water Ice. For info, call 267-774-1694.

Saturday from 8-10 am, come support the Norristown Youth Eagles at their Flapjack Fundraiser breakfast at Applebees Grill, 555 S. Trooper Road. $10 per adult, $7.50 per child.

Sunday at 1 pm, BINGO at Hancock Fire Company, 820 West Airy. Games start at 2pm. $20 to get in, game cards (1 for each game) and door prize entry.

Sunday starting at 4 pm, HairLabb Salon at 1448 Powell is hosting the 365 Success Coaching team in "Soar For More" -- a seminar on fitness, freedom, finances, etc. Economic Wealth Business Overview begins at 5 pm.

Sunday night's FREE concert at the Elmwood Park bandshell this week features Mark Reno, Elvis Impersonator. Food available for purchase at concession stand. Bring a lawn chair or blanket.

Tuesday at 7 pm, Planning Commission Meeting at Municipal Hall. No agenda yet.

Wednesday from 10 am to 2 pm, Norristown Regional Health Fair at the Regional Health Center at 1401 Dekalb, in the clinic's parking lot. Free food, fun, and resources. Face painting, health screenings, and educational materials for the community. For info, contact Kelsey Smyth, Outreach and Enrollment Counselor, 610-270-2817,