Saturday, September 10, 2011

Video from this afternoon's Open Doors event at Pottstown High School

Video from this morning's ceremony honoring first responders

Don't forget the football game

Things are winding up for the Open Doors event at Pottstown High School where thousands were fed, entertained and informed.

Technical difficulties kept us from live-blogging there, but thanks to all of those who stopped by The Mercury table and we hope you enjoy the free flashlights and pens we offered.

The event is not quite over. At 6:45 p.m., Pottstown's Trojan football team takes on the Patriots of Penn Wood High School in Grigg Stadium

Pre-game ceremonies there will honor military and first responders, all of whom will be admitted to the game free.

So stop by and cheer for the home team.

Video of what you'll find at The Mercury's Community Media Lab

5K tomorrow in Pottstown benefits fallen soliders and families

The commander of the Pottstown Army recruiting station reports there will be a 5K run and 1-mile fun run at 3 p.m. Sunday.

It starts at Smith Family Plaza in front of borough hall. The route runs through Pottstown. You can sign up at Smith Family Plaza today, during Open Doors.

The cost is $30 and the proceeds benefit the fallen and their families, as well as Wounded Warriors..

There are many such races being held around the nation tomorrow, and this is the local event.

The races honor first responders and those in the armed forces.

Borough honors fallen with flag placement

For those of you who glanced up this morning and thought the borough had hung the American flag on borough hall backwards, take note.

The flag placement is meant to evoke the way flags are put on the caskets of returning fallen soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen, according to state Sen. John Rafferty, R-44th Dist.

Ceremony complete, heroes honored, now for some fun

The ceremony honoring the nation's and the region's first responders and veterans has just completed in Smith Plaza under clearing skies.

If you've been following the Tweets of Mercury Reporter Brandie Kessler (@I_M_BrandieK) and Photographer John Stricker (@MercPhotog), then you know this already.
Pottstown Borough Manager Jason Bobst acknowledged some of our local responders, including Police Dispatcher Michelle Labant, who was injured in July by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan while serving with the Army National Guard.

She is recovering in Bethesda,Md. "She's here to protect our community and to protect our country and we hope she gets well soon and comes back to us."

"We've got a lot of great responders in our community," Bobst said. "They are the ones who, when the tones go off, they're leaving not knowing if they're coming back. And I think that's the greatest respect you can pay someone. They're there for us."

Brandie and John are back now in The Mercury's Community Media Lab (stop on in and visit us, 24 N. Hanover St., corner of King and Hanover).

Brandie said Bobst made another significant remark. He said Pottstown needs to come together.

"We are a community, not by wards, not by neighborhoods. We are Pottstown," Bobst said.

Before the skies cleared, while a few raindrops stubbornly fell on the crowd, state Sen. John Rafferty R-44th Dist. quoted an old Irish saying. In reference to those who fell that day, Rafferty said "on a day or a memorial ... raindrops are the tears of angels in heaven welcoming the new souls."

Pottstown Schools Superintendent Reed Lindley urged the community to learn from its history, and to understand that learning is the key to moving forward.

"Let us learn together, our future students and current students are counting on you and me," Lindley said.

Church bells and ringing now in downtown Pottstown, come down and see what they are calling you too.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The BIG DAY is here!

At this point, we would hope that we don't have to remind you all, but today is the big day.

Starting at 11 a.m. downtown, Pottstown's Second Annual Open Doors Extravaganza, Open  Door-a-palooza gets going in Smith Plaza, opposite Pottstown Borough Hall on High Street.

See two posts below for the latest schedule in case you didn't get a copy of The Mercury's handy Open Doors tab in Wednesday's paper.

The only change that Lee's ill-timed floodwaters have made at this point is that the Schuylkill Greenway Association building in Rivertfront Park will not be able to open its doors, otherwise it would be letting in a bit too much of the Schuylkill River which has rudely filled the parking lot.

Otherwise, with King Street opened this afternoon, be reminded that both the Carousel at Pottstown building and Pottsgrove Manor, both across from Memorial Park, will have their doors opened as planned.

So stop down, spend the day enjoying all of what Pottstown has to offer, and then mosey on up to Pottstown High School in the afternoon for free food and fun.

And stop by The Mercury's Community Media Lab in the morning and talk with our on-line editor Eileen Faust about how you can become one of our bloggers; or stop by The Mercury's table at the high school for some free stuff and talk with reporter Evan Brandt about how much fun you're having.

Maybe you'll get mention in this prestigious blog!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Open Doors is 'Rain or Shine'

As the torrents came tumbling down, and the rivers began to rise, one question burned in the minds of Pottstown area residents: Will Open Doors still go on Saturday?

The answer is an unequivocal "yes!"

Co-organizer-in-chief John Armato said if it rains, Open Doors will go on.

If it pours, Open Doors will go on.

If there's an earthquake, Open Doors will go on.

If there is a plague of locusts, Open Doors will go on.

If Iceland invades, Open Doors will go on.

Armato pointed out that many of the events, especially those at the high school, will occur in-doors.

"So what's a little rain compared to all the fun of Open Doors?"

Final Open Doors Schedule of Events Announced


Downtown Events from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
·        Opening ceremonies at Smith Plaza (100 block of High St.)
o       Speakers John Rafferty, Dr. Reed Lindley, and Jason Bobst
o       Pottstown Middle School Jazz Band begins performance at 10:45 a.m.
o       Pennsylvania State Police Aviation Patrol Fly Over
o       WPAZ Community Dance Party
o       Entertainment throughout the day by local groups in Smith Plaza
·        Local businesses and organizations throughout Pottstown will be holding special events.
o       High Street Music Company Open House
o       Tri County Performing Arts Center Open House
o       Pottstown Regional Library Open House: Kid activities and book signing by local author Mike Snyder
o       Pottsgrove Manor:  tours, activities and demonstrations
o       Carousel of Pottstown Open House Tours
o       Pottstown Karate Club:  Cross Fit Pottstown demonstrations and tours
o       Montgomery County Community College Art Gallery:  Open House for Scenes of the Schuylkill show
o       Hill School Boyer Art Center:  Open house and tours; Pottstown Area Artists Guild demonstrations
o       Gallery on High/Gallery School of Pottstown:  Open house and community art project
o       Bentley Skateboard Shop:  Demonstrations and activities (Penn St. closed for skaters.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Mercury will open its doors for Saturday event

(In case you missed the front page story in Wednesday's paper...)

POTTSTOWN — When Pottstown opens its doors for the Open Doors event Saturday, The Mercury will be among those inviting people to come on in.

Inside Wednesday's print edition of the paper, you will find a special section that includes a complete schedule of the events during Saturday's Open Doors event, along with a map of downtown Pottstown that shows where events will occur and where you can catch the free shuttle bus.

You will also find stories highlighting new events and popular repeats from last year — like the free food at the high school.

But in addition to bringing the news of this singular community event to the community, The Mercury also wants to bring the community into The Mercury to see what's new there.

Primarily, we want you to know about how The Mercury is embracing the digital future of news, and how you can participate and benefit from those changes.

The auxiliary North Hanover Street entrance that opens directly into our Community Media Lab will be open on Saturday coinciding with the schedule for the downtown portion of Open Doors.

There, Online Editor Eileen Faust will be manning the desk to answer questions about starting or improving a blog hosted at the Town Square blog site link on The Mercury's website; how to access The Mercury through our Facebook and Facebook fan pages; and providing more information about our Twitter feeds.

Additionally, Mercury reporters Brandie Kessler and Evan Brandt will be live blogging throughout the day's events on the new Open Doors blog established on our website Sunday to promote the event. (That's what you're reading right now!)

Both reporters will also provide updates throughout the day about events on Facebook and Twitter.

"While we value our print readers and continue to produce a top quality newspaper every day, we also recognize that the world of community journalism is changing," said Mercury Editor Nancy March.

"Much of that change involves the web and new platforms for delivering and receiving information. These methods will have us relying more than ever on our readers to let us know about news events and things they think are important," March said.

"Open Doors is the perfect time for us to open our Community Media Lab to explain and demonstrate the many different ways that The Mercury will continue to be the primary provider of local news in the greater Pottstown area," said March.

"And we invite the community to stop in and see the many ways we've changed, and how the one thing that has not changed is our longstanding commitment to this community," she said.

The Community Media Lab will be open during the day's downtown events, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
When the action moves to Pottstown High School, The Mercury will have a table from which their reporting of the days events will continue.

Stop by and say hello.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Where Were You on 9/11?

Everyone remembers where you were and what you were doing when you heard about the planes hitting the twin towers in NYC.  Please remember to send your story to for display this Saturday at the Gallery on High. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Today's Open Doors kick-off in The Mercury

Below it the Open Doors kick-off story which appeared in today's (Monday's) The Mercury:

POTTSTOWN — It would be easy to explain the Open Doors event coming up this Saturday by just listing all of the things that will be going on.

There are so many at this point, that it would fill most of this space.

But perhaps the more remarkable thing is not that there are a lot of things going on, but that so many of them are being sponsored or run individually by so many individual organizations that call Pottstown home.

In other words, what’s remarkable is that there are almost as many organizations coming together on one day to celebrate Pottstown as there are activities that day.

At its core, Open Doors is, in essence, a festival.

What it celebrates is the town in which it takes place; and what it recognizes is all the things that go on here every day thanks to the dedication of an army of every day people who don’t require any thanks.

But beyond the philosophy of the event is the fun, and there’s a lot of it.

Thousands of people flocked to downtown Pottstown and Pottstown High School last year and organizers for this year’s event are anticipating just as many — or more.

As noted before, there are just too many things to list here.

(Look for our Open Doors special section in Wednesday’s edition for a complete listing of all events, as well as a map of where to go and how to get there. The full schedule can also be found below in a previous post.)

But just a sampling of the events gives you a flavor.

The downtown events begin at 11 a.m. with a ceremony in Smith Plaza in front of borough hall honoring military personnel, veterans and first responders — all of whom were so deeply involved with the events of 9-11 and those that followed.

Smith Plaza will then play host to a series of performances, including the Pottstown Middle School Jazz Band and other local performers.

WPAZ will host a “community dance party” and demonstrations will be provided by Swing Kat Dance; the Roller Derby Rock Stars and Pottstown Karate Club.

Open houses will be hosted by Gallery on High/Gallery School; High Street Music; Tri County Performing Arts Center; Washington Park, where the new mural will be displayed; Genesis Housing; Carousel of Pottstown; The Hill School’s Boyer Art Gallery and the Pottstown Historical Society.
Activities will take place at Smith Plaza; Pottsgrove Manor; the Community Garden at 423 Chestnut St.; the Pottstown Regional Public Library; Bentley Skateboard Shop; borough hall, where a child safety program will be held, and the YMCA where an open house will be combined with a free community swim from 12 to 2 p.m.

Throughout the day, Pottstown Urban Transit will provide free bus shuttles from stops designated on the map that will be in the center of Wednesday’s special Mercury section.

From 2 to 5 p.m., the activities move to the Pottstown High School campus between North Franklin and North Adams streets.

Opening ceremonies will also be held there at 2 p.m. and a health fair, with demonstrations, screenings and displays will be on hand.

Also on hand will be informational tables with hand outs and activities from more than 40 community groups.
There will be bounces houses, a teacher (and public official) dunk tank, classic cars, military and emergency vehicle displays; a mascot hall of fame challenge, a police bike safety program, high school drama club celebrity look-a-likes, free food in the center court, free school supplies (while they last) and an open house of the high schools career technical education facilities from 3 to 4 p.m.

Entertainment will be provided in the school auditorium from 2:30 through 4:30 p.m.

Blood donations will be collected by Miller-Keystone at both locations through the entire day.

The day caps off with a high school varsity football game — Pottstown Vs. Penn Wood — at 6:45 p.m. in Grigg Stadium.

Pre-game ceremonies there will honor military and first responders, all of whom will be admitted to the game free.

So yeah, there’s a lot going on that day and it would be a shame for you, your family and your friends to miss it. It is, after all, entirely free.

But the point of the day is to point out to people that much of that same stuff is going on almost every day in Pottstown.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Community Land Trust opens doors to new digs at Open Doors

A re-post from our friends at Citizens for Pottstown Revitalization:
The "New Digs" for MOSAIC Community Land Trust will open for OPEN DOORS at 10 S. Hanover. Stop in for the musical machinations of Porter Shimer, LIVE that's right LIVE Piano Music AND the incredible, (but NOT edible) KINGS OF JAZZ AND BLUES SERIES. Paintings by Raun Kercher. We're fillin' the house with art and music so follow the foot prints to our door!

And don't forget to stop by the Community Gardens for a tickle from everybody's FAVORITE VEGGIES - Peas and a Carrot!! Check it out at their Web site here:
Check back here again for more on Open Doors.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Open Doors Schedule

Here it is!
Check it out!
Plan your day!

Downtown Events - 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
· Opening Ceremonies at Smith Plaza
· Pottstown Middle School Jazz Band begins performance at 10:45 a.m.
· Pennsylvania State Police Aviation Patrol Fly Over
· WPAZ Community Dance Party
· Entertainment throughout the day by local groups
· Music on High Street Company Open House
· Tri County Performing Arts Center Open House
· Pottstown Regional Library Open House/Kid Activities/Book signing by local author Mike Snyder
· Pottsgrove Manor Tours/Activities/Demonstrations
· Carousel of Pottstown Open House Tours
· Pottstown Karate Club/Cross Fit Pottstown Demonstrations and Tours
· Montgomery County Community College Art Gallery Open House
· Hill School Boyer Art Center Open House and Tours
· Gallery on High/Gallery School of Pottstown Open House and kid activities
· Bentley Skateboard Shop Demonstrations and activities
· Community Garden 423 Chestnut Street Demonstrations/Displays/Kid Activities/Meet the Vegetable Mascots
· Swing Kats Dance Demonstration
· Roller Derby Stars Demonstration
· Miller Keystone Blood Drive Donation Van
· 9/11 Photo Display
· Borough Hall Child Safety Program
· Tri County Bikes - Bike Pottstown Program
· McLickys Ice Cream - 1 free topping with the purchase of each ice cream
· Genesis Housing Open House
· YMCA Open House - free community swim 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m.
· Washington Park Open House and Community Mural Display
· Free Bus Transportation throughout the day
High School Campus Events - 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.
· Opening ceremonies PHS cafeteria patio 2pm
· Over 40 community group informational tables with handouts and activities
· Each of Pottstown’s school buildings will have an educational display table with activities and giveaways
· Health Fair with demonstrations, screenings, and displays
· Live The Dream Foundation - Kids Court activities
· Miller Keystone Blood Donation Van
· Police Bike Safety Program/Opportunity to win a free bike and helmet
· Free Food Court open at 2:45 to 4:45 p.m.
· Free School Supplies (while they last)
· Pottstown High School Drama Club Celebrity Look-A-Likes
· Bounce Houses
· Teacher Dunk Tank
· Emergency Vehicle Displays and Demonstrations
· Military Vehicle Display
· Classic Cars
· Student Art Display
· Career Technical Education Open House Tours - 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
· Local entertainment provided in high school auditorium - performances at 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m.
· Mascot Hall of Fame/Mascot Challenge
· Free Bus Transportation throughout the day
· High School Varsity Football Game - Pottstown vs. Penn Wood - with pregame ceremonies honoring members of our military and first responders at 6:45 p.m. in the high school stadium

Friday, September 2, 2011

Twitter me this!

Well, after much resistance and no small amount of brow-beating, I have succumbed.

As a result of a combination of peer pressure and professional necessity, Mercury Reporter Evan Brandt is now on Twitter.

In fact it was because of Open Doors that I finally signed up, so that I too can "live tweet" during the event itself on Saturday, Sept. 10.

So don't make my sacrifice be in vain folks, follow me at @PottstownNews and you can see my posts.

Follow our other reporter working that day, Brandie Kessler, at @I_M_BrandieK and see how much better at this she is than me.

Also, all our tweets will have the #OpenDoors hashtag so you can find us that way as well by doing a search.

See you in cyber-space folks! (Or is that the twitterverse?)

Food for all

Hello folks and welcome to the Open Doors Blog.

Evan Brandt here from The Mercury and I wanted to start this off on the right foot by talking about a question we all consider of vital importance -- what about the food?

It's probably very significant that the person who originally conceived of the Open Doors idea last year -- Melvenna Santiago -- is also the person in charge of the food.

Below I have posted a short story that outlines most of the food options for Saturday. Hope your mouth doesn't water too much...:)

POTTSTOWN — If you feed them, they will come.
At least that’s been how Melvenna Santiago sees it. And she should know.
In addition to being one of the people who first came up with last year’s wildly successful Open Doors event, she is also the person who is organizing the bounty of free food provided at the event.
“Last year, everyone got fed and it won’t be any different this year,” she promised.
Like last year, tables full of free food will be set up in the courtyard of Pottstown High School on the afternoon of Sept. 10 for the second annual Open Doors event.
Last year’s event boasted a long but fast-moving line of satisfied customers, many of whom got on line for the second time.
“I couldn’t believe how many people we had last year, but we fed them all,” Santiago said.
In addition to her signature fried chicken, the menu currently includes hot dogs and hamburgers, thanks to donations by the Montgomery Elks Lodge, business owner Terry Embody, Bethel AME Church, Invictus Ministries Inc. and desserts provided by Victory Christian Life Center.
Santiago said the teachers provide the fixings of the salad bar, which is manned by the students in the culinary arts program.
Cold drinks and fruit snacks will be provided this year by Wawa, along with water ice from Rita’s and culinary contributions from Pottstown’s Philly Pretzel franchise, said John Armato, the district’s director of community relations.
Some supplies have been donated by vendors tapped by the high school’s food service operation.
Both organizers said further donations, be it from area restaurants or motivated home cooks, are always welcome.
Santiago said some of her Hispanic neighbors have promised to provide dishes of rice and beans (a sell-out last year).
“We know the economy is bad and people may not be able to provide as much, but that just means we need more people, which means I need to do more cooking,” said Santiago. “Luckily, that’s not a problem for me.”

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Coming Soon

Check back here starting Sunday when we'll post lots of stories and information on the upcoming Open Doors event in Pottstown. The event is slated to run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in downtown Pottstown and at the High School from 3 p.m. on.

We will also be holding a special Community Media Lab for anyone interested in becoming a blogger at The Mercury's offices, 24 N. Hanover St. Look for the Community Media Lab banner outside.