Story Archive May 02 2012

Will garden grow on you?

— The relatively mild winter is giving gardeners an early start in the dirt. But it also has awakened some unpleasant things that require lots of tugging and pulling.

Editorial: A sigh of relief

“Let the justice system handle Mister Toledo.”That was the very wise advice from Capt. Frank Bachmayer, commander of the 15th Police District, following the arrest of an Aldine Street man who allegedly slashed tires on vehicles belonging to his neighbors in Mayfair and Holmesburg.While residents may be sleeping a tad bit more soundly these days now that David Toledo has been apprehended and awaits his day in court, folks ought not get too lackadaisical.They should remain vigilant, aware that quality-of-life crime and the type of low-level urban terrorism Mr. Toledo allegedly put them through can happen anytime. They should continue to join and support their local Town Watch groups — heck, the more the merrier; remember, in unity there is strength — and frequently peer out their windows for signs of trouble.But residents must never allow their justifiable anger to move beyond the thought process, even if the wheels of justice move at a snail’s pace. A temptation to harass the suspect, his family or his property may be a natural instinct for folks who have lost time, wages and lots of dollars to get their cars repaired following the vandalism, but, as Capt. Bachmayer suggested last week, such action is off-limits. Crime victims must refrain from becoming criminals themselves in the name of retaliation.

Letters to the Editor: May 2, 2012

Firefighter Daniel Sweeney: 9-18-86 to 4-9-12The entire Sweeney family wishes to express our heartfelt thanks to all who reached out to us since the death of Dan and his supervisor, Lt. Robert Neary. The tremendous outpouring of support has helped us in these troubling times. David and Marian Sweeney sincerely appreciate your prayers and generous acts.Contributions in Dan’s name may be made to The Daniel Sweeney Memorial Scholarship Fund, accepted at any Police and Fire Credit Union or simply mailed to PFFCU (c/o the fund), 901 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA 19107 or Local 22 Philadelphia Firefighters union, 415 N. Fifth St., Philadelphia, PA 19123.The fund is set up for deserving children who wish to attend Bishop McDevitt High School (Dan’s alma mater) and any other school.

A lot on your license plate

As Officers Denise McCarthy and George Schweizer patrol the Northeast’s 2nd Police District, equipment mounted on the roof of their car is looking for stolen vehicles.

For Riverdance, the final flow

When the amazing Riverdance first opened in New York in March 1996, no one ever predicted its long success.“But here we are some sixteen years later still going strong,” said Jason O’Neill, lead dancer with the show, which will give its farewell performance at the Merriam Theater in Center City May 11 to 13.After all these years, Riverdance will close productions in the United States — although it will continue to thrill audiences in other countries around the world.“I’ll continue dancing with the company in other countries, but I will miss the American audiences,” O’Neill said. “In America everyone is so friendly, so very uplifting, and I think the best audience in the world. They express themselves when we’re dancing and we love all the energy they send to us.”O’Neill, 26, was born in Belfast and has been dancing for many years. He danced competitively and achieved first place in the Ulster championships five times. He also won the Great Britain and All Scotland titles, among others, and placed second in the world in solo and team dancing.“I was raised with six sisters and they all danced,” O’Neill explained. “So I guess it was just natural for me to eventually dance too, although originally I was opposed to the idea. But after enough time, I fell totally in love with dance and rhythm, and one thing just led to another.”Still fighting the idea of making dance his career, O’Neill attended college and majored in graphic arts. But soon the pull and the passion were just too strong, and when he auditioned for and won a role in Riverdance, he knew he had to take the chance.“When I was offered the lead I knew this could be my career option. So I turned my back on a graphic design studio and never looked back,” he said.And so it has been, O’Neill joyfully reports. Dancing with the company since 2009, O’Neill has no regrets and just looks forward to continue dancing. “Life on the road can be hard, but I have a real thirst for travel. I love to dance and I love to travel, so even though I don’t get home to Ireland as much as I’d like, it’s all bittersweet,” he said. “I do have days when I miss my family and friends, but every day I get to see new places and new people, so for me it’s all been a mostly positive experience.”Of course, performing in Riverdance can be quite strenuous, and dancers like O’Neill are not without their injuries.“I try to keep in shape by skipping and running every day, as well as dancing. That keeps my body knowing this is what it has to do. But we also travel with massage therapists who keep us on track, and they are lifesavers,” he said.And they’d better be.O’Neill said over the years he’s had sprained ankles, knee injuries and a fractured foot.“But, like anything else, the wounds heal and you just go on from there,” he said. “Riverdance is an original, the first of its kind to feature Irish dancing fused with other types of dancing. It’s a full-scale Broadway production. The music is excellent, and the dancers give it everything they’ve got every single night.”When the show ends its run in America, O’Neill will keep dancing to its music and magic in other countries — which he will continue as long as he can. Eventually, though, he hopes to do other things as well.“Eventually I want to do choreography, and also pursue graphic design and photography,” he said. “But I will continue on this road as long as I can. For me, it’s all about the passion and love I feel for the dance, and I just look forward to continuing to do it for many years.”For times and ticket information, call 215-731-3333.