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What's Happening in:  Marconi 

Public Displays of Reflection

Photo by Darren Fava

By Joseph Myers

The 2700 blocks of South Smedley and Colorado streets have again infused the Marconi neighborhood with Christmas spirit thanks to their inviting holiday-centric lights and decorations. The unique, oval-shaped blocks would be an exceptional place to visit based solely on residents’ home decorations and light displays. But the park-like island in the center of each block has become their calling card. A perpetual parade of motorists make their way along the expanse nightly to take in the sights.
Smedley Street, whose eponymous Christmas Light Spectacular Facebook page has garnered more than 2,000 “likes,” planned to celebrate opening night on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Wet weather and maintenance matters delayed the event until December 4th.

Photo courtesy Smedley Street Christmas Facebook page.

The resident’s persistence and handiwork were well-received. “By the smiles on our faces, you can tell we’re pretty impressed,” said Jeremy Bryson, exploring the block with wife Tisha Hartman and their children, six-year-old Miles and one-year-old Nina. The family recently moved here from San Diego. “We live nearby,” explained Hartman, “so it was an easy decision to come here. But we weren’t aware of the full beauty and allure of the presentation.”

This year’s display includes inflatables such as tributes to Chase and Marshall of “Paw Patrol” fame, Candy Castle, and the North Pole Stables complete with depictions of Santa Claus and his reindeer helpers.

Paul Pellegrino, a South-Philadelphia-native who now resides in Delaware County, was especially taken with the manger scene. “I had intended just to drive by pretty fast before taking my daughter to dinner, but I couldn’t say ‘No’ when she asked me to let her look at everything.” Seven-year-old Olivia, shouted, “This is the best day ever,” while exploring the site. She also enjoyed a conversation with the North Pole’s most famous inhabitant, as Santa posed for pictures.
The Pellegrinos decided to walk over to Colorado Street. There they found another wonderful display that has likewise delighted neighborhood residents and guests for years.

“This time of year is all about goodwill, so we’re happy that these kind people put up their decorations each year for us to see,” Declan Murphy said to a nod from his wife Lucinda. Originally from Ireland, the two have lived in Pennsport for five years and regularly make inspecting the various lights in South Philly a part of their seasonal fun. The recent retirees are particularly fond of Colorado Street because of its quaint feel, accentuated by a massive “Merry Christmas” sign.
“The people who live around here are very spoiled,” Lucinda said with a laugh. “They have Colorado Street and Smedley Street so close together. Who could ever be in a bad mood when they have that going for themselves?”

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

New Coffee Shop Opening on East Passyunk

Just in time to keep us fueled-up during the darkest days of the year, a new coffee shop is opening its doors on the Avenue this morning. Jennifer Santore and her aunt, Valerie, will run Ground Up at 1926 East Passyunk Avenue. The site was most recently home to Vin Cafe.

Window signage before opening.

Jennifer grew up with family in the hospitality industry and attended culinary school with the goal of someday becoming a small business owner.  With deep roots in South Philly, she found there was no better place to open an establishment of her own than along the Avenue.

The interior. 

Ground Up will be open daily from 7 am – 3 pm serving coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, along with pastries and bagels from Rockland Bakery out of New York, where Jennifer’s uncle works.  With Jennifer’s background in cooking, she plans to expand the menu over time.

The coffee shop will seat about 24 and has window counter seats with charging stations so you don’t have to awkwardly crawl under a neighbor’s table to plug in your laptop. So swing by Ground Up this week on your way to work or while shopping along the Avenue and welcome Jennifer to the neighborhood.

Ground Up
1926 East Passyunk Avenue
Open Daily, 7 am – 3 pm

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What's Happening in:  All over South Philly 

Events Roundup 12-05-18

“A Night of Carols” – Christmas Concert

When: Thursday, December 6, 7 pm
Where: St Edmond’s Church, 2130 S 21st St.
Details:  See the Facebook event.

An Original Play by Gianna Lozzi Wolf: The Eighth Fish of Christmas
Presented by Raw Street Productions.

When: Friday, December 7 through Sunday, December 9, assorted times
Where: Connie’s Ric Rac, 1132 South 9th Street
Details: Read more about it, see dates & times, and purchase tickets here.

Saturday, December 8

Army-Navy Game
If you’re lucky, tickets to this epic match might still be available here.

When: Saturday, December 8
Where: Lincoln Financial Field
More info:  See the official webpage. And, while you’re at it, read how the game moves one reporter to tears each year. 

Southeast by Southeast Holiday Sale & Toy Drive
Multicultural sale featuring an assortment of global crafts and textiles made by Philadelphians from all over the world. Directly benefits Philadelphia’s immigrant and refugee artists and entrepreneurs. Toy drive – bring a wrapped and labeled holiday gift under $25 for refugee children in Philadelphia.

When: Saturday, December 8, 11 am – 3 pm
Where: Bok, 821 Dudley St.
More info: 
Cash-preferred. Proceeds go directly to the vendors. Sponsored by the Porch Light program and Southeast by Southeast. See the web page or Facebook event.

Brunch with Santa

When: Saturday, December 8, 11 am – 4 pm
Where: Mummers Museum, 1100 South Second St.
Tickets: adults/$12, children/$10. Call 215.336.3050. Facebook event.

Handmade at Fleisher Art Memorial
Indoor holiday craft market plus DIY gift-making.

When: Saturday, December 8, 11 am – 5 pm
Where: Fleisher Art Memorial, 719 Catharine St.
More info:  Free admission, limited free parking. See the Facebook event.

13th Annual South Philly Handmade Brigade – open studio & sale
This shopping event features affordable and original artwork & gifts by local artists. Glass, ceramics, jewelry, clothing, housewares, and more. Meet the artists in their studios and enjoy snacks and drinks, too.

When: Saturday, December 8, 11 am – 6 pm
Where: 1241 Carpenter Street
More info: 
See the Facebook event.

Typewriter Letters to Santa
Children of all ages are welcome to type a letter to Saint Nick on decorated stationary using one of Philly Typewriter’s vintage machines. Take your letter home to mail to the North Pole or bring it to one of East Passyunk Avenue’s Photos with Santa events.

When: Saturday, December 8, 1 – 4 pm
Where: Philly Typewriter, 1439 East Passyunk Ave.
More info:  See the Facebook event.

Holiday Story Times
Perfect for families with young children or anyone who is young at heart.

When: Saturday, December 8, 3 pm
Where: EPABID Office at 1904 East Passyunk
More info: Featuring the South Philly Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia. See the Facebook event.

Sunday, December 9

Holiday Story Times
Perfect for families with young children or anyone who is young at heart.

When: Sunday, December 9, 11 am
Where: A Novel Idea on Passyunk at 1726 East Passyunk
More info: See the Facebook event.

Next week

Marconi Plaza – Christmas Tree Lighting
Enjoy caroling and hot chocolate with your neighbors.

When: Saturday, December 10, 7:30 pm
Where: Marconi Plaza, west side of Broad Street at Oregon Ave.
More info: See the Facebook event.

Dinner With Santa at Penrose Diner
5th annual Dinner with Santa feature treats for the kids and a free picture with the man in red.

When: Wednesday December 12, 5-8 pm
Where: Penrose Diner, 2016 Penrose Ave
More info: See the Facebook event.

Italian Movie Afternoon featuring “Benvenuto Presidente!”

When: Friday, December 14, Noon
Where: Fumo Family Library, 2437 South Broad St.
More info: See the Free Library’s website.

All Month

East Passyunk Deck the Ave – A Month of Merrymaking!
Festivities will include the East Passyunk Pop Up Choir, Photos with Santa, Snow Globe Photos, Typewriter Letters to Santa, 8th Annual Ornament Show, Holiday Story Time, Holiday Mummers, Free Parking Saturdays, Holiday QOTA LGBTQ Happy Hour – and more. 

When: Assorted days & times
Where: East Passyunk Ave. from Broad to Wharton St.
Details: Visit their Facebook events page.

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Roman Lumber makes way for “Roman Square” at 11th & McKean

By Sandy Smith for the Passyunk Post

What was a series of low-slung commercial buildings in the 2000 block of South 11th Street is now an empty lot. Soon, that lot will be filled with eight brand-new four-story townhouses called “Roman Square.”

View looking southwest from 11th & McKean Streets, April 25, 2018. Photo by Darren Fava.

Same view after demolition, July 2018. Photo by Darren Fava.

“Within the next week, weather permitting, we hope to begin excavation” on the development at the southwest corner of 11th and McKean streets, said Bob Shaw, director of development for P & A Associates.

Each of the eight units in this project from Canno Design will have four stories plus a roof deck. All will have three bedrooms and three bathrooms; all will also have a powder room on the street level, except for the unit with two garages on the street level. Access to the garages will be via a central driveway that uses an existing curb cut on South 11th Street.

Roman Square rendering. Canno Design.

Six of the houses will have garages on their street floors that can accommodate two cars. The two units on 11th Street closest to Emily Street will each have a one-car garage located on the street level of the northerly unit.  The southerly unit will have a den and a flex room on the street level.

When the project went before the East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association for approval in March of 2018, neighbors had two principal objections. One was the loss of a parking space on 11th Street. The developer pointed out that a curb cut existed to access the warehouse torn down to make way for this project, so no legal spaces would be lost.

The other objection related to the buildings’ height, which was three feet over the height limit for its zoning district. The EPX Civic Zoning Committee recommended approval of the zoning variance for this project with the stipulation that it remain at the height limit, but the Zoning Board of Adjustment approved the variance for the project as designed.

Shaw explained that the extra height represented a compromise in order to meet both neighbors’ and buyers’ desires. New construction homes typically have ceiling heights of at least nine feet, he said, but “we made the first floor eight feet, which is pretty low for new construction standards. We felt we could do this because the first floors were largely taken up by the garages.

“The fourth-floor ceilings are also a little under nine feet,” he continued. “We did the best we could in order to fit the parking in, which was something the neighbors also wanted, and this is where we ended up.”

The houses are not yet listed for sale, but Shaw expects they will be shortly. He estimates that the homes will be pre-construction priced around $699,000.

Editor’s Addition:

Promotions for the homes posted on the, Redfin, and Trulia websites describe the homes as having a living area of 2,765 square feet.

The images and descriptions below are included in the promotional postings. Let us know what you think of the designs in the comments below.

An open concept second floor features 10 ft ceilings and oversized Pella Windows allowing maximum flow of natural light throughout the living room, dining room and kitchen. Whether cooking or entertaining, you will be at home in the Gourmet Kitchen equipped with every modern amenity including French door refrigerator, 5 burner gas range, dishwasher, canopy hood and slide out microwave, all clad in stainless steel.

Retire after a long day into the entire 3rd floor owner’s suite which boasts a huge walk-in closet and a beautiful bathroom with double sink vanity and a large stall shower with a frameless glass shower door. Keep everything cozy with dual zone gas heat and gas, tankless hot water heater. Energy efficiency and quality is evident throughout.

The 4th floor is equally as impressive with 2 junior suites each with a well-appointed bathroom. Space for a washer and dryer tucked in a laundry closet conveniently located just steps away. An expansive roof deck with amazing views tops off this quality filled home.

Additional features include hardwood flooring and recessed LED lighting throughout all living areas and bedrooms, quartz countertops and more. Inprint your signature on your new home by selecting finishes. 10-year tax abatement and one year builder warranty included for added piece of mind.


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What's Happening in:  All over South Philly 

Events Roundup 11-30-18

Carolers at the Singing Fountain, 2017.

Gold Star Park Clean-up
It’s your last chance to rake leaves!

When: Saturday, December 1, 10 am – 12 pm
Where: Gold Star Park, 625 Wharton St.
Details:  See the Facebook event.

Holiday Craft Bazaar and Visit with Santa Claus
Join the Friends of the Donatucci Library for a visit with Santa, enjoy some cookies, and shop for local hand-made crafts.

When: Saturday, December 1, 12 – 3 pm
Where: Thomas F. Donatucci Sr. Library, 1935 Shunk St.
More details: See the Facebook event.

Typewriter Letters to Santa
Children of all ages are welcome to type a letter to Saint Nick on decorated stationary using one of Philly Typewriter’s vintage machines. Take your letter home to mail to the North Pole or bring it to one of East Passyunk Avenue’s Photos With Santa events.

When: Saturday, December 1, 1 – 4 pm
Where: Philly Typewriter, 1439 East Passyunk Ave.
Details:  See the Facebook event.

Holiday Story Times
Reading and book signing by author/illustrator Greg Pizzoli

When: Sunday, December 2, 10:30 am
Where:  Tildie’s Toy Box, 1829 East Passyunk
Details:  See the Facebook event.

Gold Star Park Winter Lights Celebration
Kids’ art activity and celebration of lights.

When: Sunday, December 2, 4 pm
Where: Gold Star Park, 625 Wharton St.
Details:  See the Facebook event.

Winter Wonderland – South Street Headhouse Tree Lighting
Santa Claus will arrive on a firetruck, greet children, and collect their wish lists. Music, treats, and gift shopping will also be part of the event. CBS3 meteorologist Chelsea Ingram will help Santa count down to the official lighting of the tree at 5:00pm.

When: Sunday, December 2, 4 – 6 pm
Where: Historic Headhouse Shambles, 200 Lombard Street
Details: FREE. See their Facebook event.

Eagles vs. Redskins – Green Legion Home Game Tailgate
One of the best home tailgates in South Philly.
– All you can eat tailgate menu
– Drink specials
– No line or cover to access Xfinity Live! after the game

When: Monday, December 3, 3 – 7 pm
Where: Xfinity Live, 1100 Pattison Avenue
Tickets: Purchase tickets on their website.

Hanukkah Service in Headhouse Square
The lighting of the menorah led by Rabbi Yochonon Goldman of B’nai Abraham.

When: Monday, December 3, gather at 4:30 pm, ceremony at 5 pm
Where: Headhouse Square Fountain, 400 S 2nd St. (at Lombard)
Details: Check out their Facebook event.

Pyramid of Lights in Cianfrani Park – a Bella Vista tradition!
Come out and meet Santa, hear live music, and enjoy free hot chocolate provided by Guppy’s.

When: Tuesday,December 4, 6:30 – 7:30 pm (weather-permitting)
Where: Eighth and Fitzwater
Details: See the Facebook event.

NICE Friendraiser at Sidecar
Join Neighbors Investing in Childs Elementary (NICE) for pizza, apps, and drinks. Half the proceeds benefit NICE.

When: Thursday, December 6, 5:30-8pm
Where: The Sidecar Bar & Grille, 2201 Christian Street
Details: Tickets $20. More info on their Facebook page.

All Month

East Passyunk Deck the Ave – A Month of Merrymaking!
Festivities will include the East Passyunk Pop Up Choir, Photos with Santa, Snow Globe Photos, Typewriter Letters to Santa, 8th Annual Ornament Show, Holiday Story Time, Holiday Mummers, Free Parking Saturdays, Holiday QOTA LGBTQ Happy Hour – and more. 

When: Assorted days & times
Where: East Passyunk Ave. from Broad to Wharton St.
Details: Visit their Facebook events page.

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What's Happening in:  West Passyunk 

Feast of the Seven (Vegan!) Fishes

Vegan Commissary exterior. Photo by Daryl Peveto.

The Feast of the Seven Fishes, a seafood meal served on Christmas Eve, is a centuries-old custom brought to South Philly by southern Italians. For those who want to try a new, unexpected take on this feast, The Passyunk Post is proud to sponsor a special event with the Vegan Commissary, the beloved South Philly vegan market, caterer, and cafe. The Commissary’s Feast of the Seven Fishes will take place on Sunday, December 16th at DuJour Cafe, 20th and Market Streets. Doors open at 5pm, meal served at 6pm. A portion of the proceeds raised benefit the East Passyunk Community Center.

Vegan Commissary chef Steve Laurence started preparing, cooking, and savoring vegan food in 2010 in the midst of the recession. He founded a wholesale business at 11th and Morris Streets. Ultimately, Steve wanted a space that could hold catering and a cafe and moved the Vegan Commissary to 1429 Wolf Street.

The cafe does business all week long. Popular items include melt-in-your-mouth pesto gnocchi and the savory ‘meatball’ sub. The neighborhood has embraced this eatery and about 45% of the customers aren’t vegan, but continue to come back for the delicious, healthy food, friendly service, and laid back atmosphere. Steve, along with his team and head chef Damian Patterson, see food as a bridge to cross cultures and communities. You’ve may have also seen Vegan Commissary’s tasty treats at coffee shops all over the city.

Crab cake with zucchini, horseradish cream, basil oil and caramelized cabbage. Photo by Daryl Peveto.

The Commissary’s take on the Feast of the Seven Fishes will capture the inherent spirit of each traditional dish and translate it to a different medium. Diners will taste the ocean and brine in some dishes, and their tastebuds will resonate with sweetness and certain textures in others. This imaginative meal will leave vegans and non-vegans alike satisfied and enriched. The incredibly talented Damian Patterson has planned the dazzling menu below.

Vegan Feast of the Seven Fishes


Carrot Lox
pumpernickel toast l herbed almond cheese l candied radish

Watermelon Tuna Poke
carrot caviar l seaweed chip l mache l daikon l serrano relish

Hearts of Palm & Chayote Ceviche
coconut-sunflower seed broth l lemongrass l Aleppo pepper l tomato seeds

Trumpet Mushroom Calamari
fresh herb & cucumber salad l smoked avocado mousse

Tofish Fillet
black sesame sauce l beurre blanc l crispy lentils l swiss chard dumplings

Seafood Pasta
bucatini l ocean butter l smoked tomato sauce l oysters l clams l scallops

Italian Rainbow Cake l Pistachio Cannoli

To accommodate a larger crowd, the meal will take place at Du Jour Cafe, 2001 Market Street.

Can’t make the event? Each year, Vegan Commissary features a unique holiday sandwich with proceeds going back to the community. This season’s Moist Maker (yes, that is an old-school Friends reference) is vegan turkey, sweet potato mash, stuffing, gravy, shaved brussels sprouts, and cranberry marmalade piled on thick cut whole grain toast. The sandwich benefits farmers who have been negatively impacted by the Fair Food Farmstand’s closure.

Vegan Commissary
1429 Wolf Street


  • Monday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Friday: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Sunday: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
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