A new Saturday tradition

 Rich­mond Street will now come alive each month with res­id­ents and vendors join­ing to­geth­er to cel­eb­rate the River Wards’ unique spir­it.

  • Paula from Bridesburg shows off the Star newspaper article that inspired her to bring her family to Second Saturday. SAM NEWHOUSE / STAR PHOTO

  • Julie Crist (left) and Jessica Orso, co-owners of the Port Richmond business “The Tot Cart,” sold thousands of gourmet tater tots at Port Richmond’s Second Saturday. SAM NEWHOUSE / STAR PHOTO

  • Richie Barr (right) owner of the Philly Inked T-shirt company, shows off his custom Port Richmond logo shirt. SAM NEWHOUSE / STAR PHOTO

Chil­dren raced around in a blur of mo­tion, many of them clutch­ing bags of candy and wear­ing bright face paint. Older neigh­bors sat on lawn chairs and watched, smil­ing. Port Rich­mond par­ents chat­ted and kept an eye on their kids. 

Every­one, it seemed, was smil­ing.

It was a clas­sic week­end even­ing on Rich­mond Street, and it happened last Sat­urday night, as part of the first-ever “Second Sat­urday” cel­eb­ra­tion in Port Rich­mond.

“It’s ex­ceeded ex­pect­a­tions,” said Matt Pizzola, one of the Second Sat­urdays or­gan­izers, as hun­dreds of friends and neigh­bors swarmed around him on Rich­mond Street on Sat­urday, Aug. 10. “I didn’t ex­pect any­thing like this.”

Rich­mond Street was blocked off between East Clear­field Street and Al­legheny Av­en­ue, and packed with hun­dreds of neigh­bors dur­ing Second Sat­urday fest­iv­it­ies. More than 800 neigh­bors at­ten­ded. 

Mu­sic flooded Al­legheny Av­en­ue, food trucks sold steam­ing plates of saus­age and chick­en in the middle of the street, and on the Clear­field Street side, vis­it­ors en­joyed a clas­sic car show that fea­tured vin­tage Ca­dillacs and Pon­tiacs.

Loc­al vendors sold jew­elry and oth­er crafts, while edu­cat­ors from the Port Rich­mond Academy, a new loc­al pre-kinder­garten pro­gram, were paint­ing chil­dren’s faces in dif­fer­ent designs.

Planned as Port Rich­mond’s own ver­sion of the pop­u­lar First Fri­day events around the city, Second Sat­urdays will re­turn for the next two months – Sat­urday, Sept. 14 and Sat­urday, Oct. 12 – be­fore a hi­atus over the winter. Then, Second Sat­urday will re­turn in Spring 2014.

“Do you see any­body not smil­ing?” asked Wayne Bul­lock, own­er of the Sweets & Treats candy shop, and spon­sor of the Second Sat­urday event, as he ges­tured at the crowds of neigh­bors hav­ing a good time.

“Every vendor has a line. It’s awe­some,” Bul­lock said.

One of those vendors was The Tot Cart, a brand new Port Rich­mond busi­ness that serves up de­li­cious, crispy, gour­met tater tots.

“It ain’t just pota­toes!” Tot Cart co-own­er Ju­lie Crist said of her tots. 

On Sat­urday, the Tot Cart was selling a vari­ety of tater tots — tots with gar­lic and Parmes­an cheese, with crab season­ing, and with their spe­cial “drunk cheese,” which is made with Yards Brew­ery beer. The spe­cialty item of the night was the “Mann-wich” – tater tots with a scoopful of Sloppy Joe ground beef and drunk cheese on top. 

“I love them. And oth­er people love them. There’s no oth­er reas­on,” said Crist of why she and part­ner Ju­lie Orso de­cided to start selling tots full-time in March.

Res­id­ents from all of the River Wards were crawl­ing up and down Rich­mond Street dur­ing Second Sat­urday.

“I love try­ing new things, es­pe­cially new foods,” said Maria Tanczak, a North­ern Liber­ties nat­ive who resides in Fishtown. “It’s great to see all the people who came out. This whole area used to be very eth­nic, purely Pol­ish – and my dad used come to the Pol­ish bakery down here all the time.”

“I fell in love with the neigh­bor­hood a while back,” Pizzola ex­plained of his mo­tiv­a­tion for or­gan­iz­ing Second Sat­urday. “The com­munity’s so great – but there’s not al­ways a lot to do.” 

Bill Ma­son, a co-or­gan­izer who also set up the portrich­mond­phl.org web site as a hub for neigh­bor­hood an­nounce­ments, agreed.

“This is where I want to settle down and raise my fam­ily,” said Ma­son, a Phoenixville nat­ive who moved to Port Rich­mond three years ago. “But I also want to have something to do here on a Sat­urday night.”

Among the vendors par­ti­cip­at­ing were Philly Inked, a Ta­cony-based T-shirt com­pany, which was selling Port Rich­mond shirts for $10 each. Port Rich­mond Books was open late for vis­it­ors to Second Sat­urday. The Krak­us Su­per­mar­ket was open late as well, and was selling Pol­ish spe­cial­ties and show­ing off its newly ren­ov­ated in­teri­or.

Second Sat­urday didn’t lack in the arts and crafts de­part­ment, either. Car­oline Thraves of Port Rich­mond, own­er of Sideshow Stitch, was selling “zom­bie-fin­ger chap­stick co­zies,” as well as “little mon­ster” pil­lows she made her­self. Right be­side her, Tina Baskins, of Fishtown, pro­pri­et­or of MoodSwing Oddit­ies, was selling hand-craf­ted and hand-sculp­ted jew­elry. Both wo­men said they would def­in­itely re­turn for Second Sat­urday next month.

Oth­er vendors at Second Sat­urday in­cluded the Poi Dog Food Truck, Gigi & Big R food truck, Grandma’s Candle Castle, Kash­er Cre­ations, Breath­ing Room Yoga Stu­dio, Mill Creek Api­ary, Le Dora Flair and Shay Stones.

As Bul­lock put it, Second Sat­urday is in­ten­ded to bring at­ten­tion to Rich­mond Street’s small busi­nesses and help make it Port Rich­mond’s “Main Street” once more.

“I want to bring Rich­mond Street back to the way it used to be,” Bul­lock said. ••

For more on Second Sat­urdays or to be­come a vendor, search for “Port Rich­mond Second Sat­urdays” on Face­book, or vis­it portrich­mond­phl.org.

You can reach at snewhouse@bsmphilly.com.

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