Tacony Creek Park Block Parties: Welcome Back!

By Jamilee Hoffman, Communications Specialist

TTF recently hosted our signature block parties in Tacony Creek Park! Community members, friends, family, and various environmental organizations gathered at three TCP gateways June 15 through June 17, 2021 from 4-7 pm each day.

Each day was filled with fun family activities such as free bike rides with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia/The Circuit, East Coast Greenway, peaceful bird walks with Brandon (birds listed below), Bring Us Along virtual nature tours with Ryan, and yoga with Jenna. TTF and our Free Library partners introduced Story Trails, which enables children and families to read books in English and Spanish along the trail! And of course, we brought along our very popular button maker, always a big hit.

A popular feature of the block parties was the TTF Creekmobile, a mobile educational tool that teaches the public about clean water. TTF AWE (Alliance for Watershed Education) Fellow MyKyah shared facts about how our actions at home can affect our watershed (like doing dishes or doing laundry). She explained to families how our watershed is affected by storms, and the kinds of green and nature-friendly solutions that can be installed to direct water to keep our waterways clean. The kids loved the special drawer at the bottom of the Creekmobile that allowed them to fish, whether they pulled out a special fish or even litter on their line!

Kamille, a TTF intern shared: This past Wednesday I helped set up for the block party with tables and tents, and cleaned up trash in the area. There was yoga! People stopped by the Creekmobile, which demonstrates how surface runoff on roads moves faster than on vegetation. The sewer system model showed how water overflowed into streams. A bike ride started and I went along, and got to see the creek from a different view. There were other people walking or riding their bikes, enjoying the cooler air provided by the trees. Biking alongside the creek and through the tunnels brought a serene sense along with it.

 Natural Lands, our Master Plan consultant, facilitated an activity, to engage with community members to share their ideas about what they want to see in the park.

We also provided a gallery of the winning photos from our Eyes on our Landscape Photo Contest in collaboration with the Olney Culture Lab. It was exciting to welcome and share prizes with award winners who came by, many with their families!

Many of our incredible partners joined us! Block Party photos here.

A highlight of the parties was definitely the exciting presentation of a horseshoe crab by the Center for Aquatic Sciences. Both children and adults alike were hypnotized! A Center member told us how this animal has been around since the dinosaur age. Block party-goers were astonished, especially the kids, to see a creature that has been around for millions of generations. The Center also provided coloring sheets and an activity in which guests could create shark tooth necklaces with real shark teeth.

Clean Air Council/GoPhillyGo brought materials to represent Philly’s recreational amenities and traffic safety, including information on city services and ways to decrease air pollution in our homes. They administered games that showed guests how they can get to various trail and park sites in the city.

Our special thanks to Riverfront North Partnership, which provided a fun fishing activity to teach kids how to fish with plastic, colorful sea creatures in the grass!

Fairmount Water Works had a great aquatic activity; they educated the kids about the mighty world of mussels and how they latch onto the gills of a fish host as parasites for protection until they are large enough to survive independently. Kids were given plastic fish to catch bubbles (the mussels) on, as a real-life example of how mussels attach themselves to the fish!

Our amazing partner, MOM’s Organic Market promoted their healthy living by giving out bananas! We’d like to shout out some other great organizations who shared their missions at our Tacony Creek Park block parties: Esperanza, Inc, a nonprofit organization that strengthens the Philadelphia Hispanic community, and Girl Scouts of America.

The Office of Early Childhood Education of the Philadelphia School District brought cute children’s books and blocks and presented great Pre-K info and opportunities for families to sign up their children for Pre-K! Read by 4th also visited our block parties tos hare free books and information about their summer program.

SWEEP (Streets & Walkways Education and Enforcement Program) gave out recycling bins. Some other great organizations that attended and shared information: the MOMs programPhiladelphia More Beautiful CommitteeTreePhilly, and Trust for Public Land Heat Response Team, which led a coloring activity that taught block party-goers about heat education.

On the last block party day, artist Heidie Mojica presented Water Spirit Portraits, a unique portrait session that responded to the three sculptures created on the Tacony Creek Park trail by artist Sarah Kavage through the Alliance for Watershed Education’s Lenapehoking Watershed project. The portraits honored both the sitter and the spirit of our shared Watershed. Participants will receive a personalized, high-quality image file and print following the session.

TTF is so grateful to all the community members, board members, partners, volunteers, and organizations who attended. A special thanks to John Raisch, of the Cheltenham Environmental Advisory Council and SoMont Youth MTB Team. Thank you to all who attended. Community support is vital to the improvement of our watershed and to creating a new vision for Tacony Creek Park.

You can help keep our water and community healthy by participating in more of TTF’s events. We hope to see you in Tacony Creek Park again soon!

These birds were seen during the walks at the block parties: American Robin (We watched a nesting pair of adults feeding their chicks right near the block party area on day 3!); Gray Catbird; House Sparrow; Northern Cardinal; European Starling; Mourning Dove; Chimney Swift; Carolina Wren; Common Grackle (Many were seen bathing and drinking from the creek.); Blue Jay; Red-Bellied Woodpecker; Baltimore Oriole (During the third block party, this bird was seen preening at the top of a tree just past the bench with the art installation!); Brown-Headed Cowbird; Cedar Waxwing; Downy Woodpecker; Canada Goose; Northern Flicker; Mallard; Warbling Vireo; Barn Swallow (Block party-goers observed  breeding pairs feeding chicks in nests under the Whitaker Ave bridge.); Eastern Wood-Pewee; Blue Gray Gnatcatcher; Wood Thrush; Turkey Vulture; Ruby Throated Hummingbird (We were very lucky to get extended looks at a perched hummingbird on day 3!)

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