Soul Cruisers kick off Friday night concerts, fireworks at Penn Treaty

More sum­mer fun is planned for Penn Treaty Park with three Fri­day nights of mu­sic and fire­works at the wa­ter­front park.

Ac­cord­ing to le­gend, in 1682, Wil­li­am Penn entered a treaty with the Lenape In­di­ans at Shack­amax­on — known today as Penn Treaty Park, un­der the shade of a mag­ni­fi­cent an­cient elm tree. In 1810, that elm was blown down by a storm.

As it were, people have been con­ver­ging on the banks of the Delaware River for cen­tur­ies, and Fri­day nights this Au­gust, that tra­di­tion con­tin­ues.

Fant­ast­ic Fri­days, a free even­ing con­cert and fire­works series, be­gins this Fri­day, Aug. 5, and fea­tures fam­ous Phil­adelphia soul group the Sen­sa­tion­al Soul Cruis­ers at 6:30 p.m.

“It’s our most am­bi­tious pro­gram at the wa­ter­front this year,” said AJ Thom­son, pres­id­ent of the Friends of Penn Treaty Park, the host or­gan­iz­a­tion, along with the Delaware River Wa­ter­front Cor­por­a­tion. “It’s gonna be a party on the river. Bring your fam­ily out and en­joy the mu­sic and the fire­works.

“It’s sort of our gift to the neigh­bor­hood for giv­ing back to Penn Treaty Park, and to bring more people to the park,” he said. “It really all came in­to be­ing when the DRWC said they would pay for fire­works.”

The next two Fant­ast­ic Fri­day free con­certs are Aug. 19, fea­tur­ing Brit­ish In­va­sion, a Beatles and 1960s mu­sic trib­ute band, and Aug. 25, fea­tur­ing an End of Sum­mer Jam with Fuse­box, play­ing hits from the 1960s through today.

A $20,000 grant from the Penn Treaty Spe­cial Ser­vices Dis­trict to the FOPT last Novem­ber helped to cov­er some of the cost of the series. The dis­trict is fun­ded by Sug­ar­House Casino, loc­ated a few blocks away on Delaware Av­en­ue.

Over­all park main­ten­ance and the trans­fer of one of the des­cend­ents of the ori­gin­al Shack­amax­on elm from Haver­ford Col­lege to the park have also ac­coun­ted for the al­loc­a­tion of the grant money, Thom­son said. Fu­ture im­prove­ments to the park, like light­ing, up­graded play­ground equip­ment and land­scape design im­prove­ment at the river’s edge are on the fu­ture FOPT agenda.

“We were giv­en this money by the casino with the ob­ject­ive to help worthy com­munity or­gan­iz­a­tions,” said PTSSD board mem­ber Joe Rafter. We cer­tainly con­sider the Friends of Penn Treaty Park a worthy or­gan­iz­a­tion.”

“Main­tain­ing the park is one thing,” said Rafter, “but then to util­ize this space is great. It’s a loc­al treas­ure we don’t util­ize enough.”

The PTSSD was cre­ated after two years of ne­go­ti­ation with Sug­ar­House, loc­al res­id­ents and au­thor­it­ies as part of a Com­munity Be­ne­fits Agree­ment. The CBA states that Sug­ar­House will donate $1 mil­lion a year once Phase 2 of con­struc­tion be­gins; right now, the amount is lim­ited to $500,000. Mem­bers of loc­al or­gan­iz­a­tions can ap­ply for grants and ap­pear be­fore the board to ex­plain what their group would do with grant money. Re­cent grant re­cip­i­ents in­clude Fishtown’s Luther­an Set­tle­ment House, Fishtown Ath­let­ic Club (AC), Fishtown Ac­tion, Friends of Ori­anna Hill Park and NLArts.

The Fant­ast­ic Fri­days series is some­what of a re­vamped con­tinu­ation of the former Wa­ter­front Wed­nes­days series hos­ted at the park in the past by the New Kens­ing­ton Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Corp.

Fri­day, Septem­ber 9, FOPT will host its an­nu­al Cham­pagne In the Park. Jazz mu­sic and loc­al boost­ers will raise funds for the group.

For more in­form­a­tion vis­it www.Pen­nTreaty­ or email info@pen­ntreaty­

Penn Treaty Park is loc­ated on the banks of the Delaware River, just bey­ond the in­ter­sec­tion of Columbia and Delaware av­en­ues.••

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