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Wedding fireworks mean no more private events at the fountain

The wedding reception that was held at East Passyunk Avenue’s Singing Fountain last month was the first – and most likely last – private event to be held there.


It’s a shame, because it was such a great idea, but the unauthorized use of fireworks has ruined the fun for everyone.

After lots of complaints from people living in the vicinity of the fountain about fireworks being set off precariously close to some homes, the Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation, the organization that owns the fountain, put the kibosh on any private events taking place there in the future.

Sam Sherman, executive director of PARC, said he wasn’t aware that the couple planned to set off fireworks.

Fireworks require a special permit, which would not have been granted, Sherman said.

Not only that, but the person setting off the display must be registered with the state attorney general’s office, according to the state police, and a $500 bond is required to cover any possible damages.

“Although the wedding reception was a lovely event, PARC has decided that future private events of this magnitude are not a proper use of the space,” Sherman said in a written statement.

“Given the iconic status of the fountain, PARC feels that it should always be open to the public. Our goal has always been to instill a sense of ownership of the fountain within the community. We have succeeded and that sense of ownership must be respected.”

We reached out to the couple, Aaron Heintz and Jessica Hoagland, to hear their side, but Heintz told us they didn’t want to comment.

The fireworks set off quite a bang in more ways than one.

A review in the Philadelphia Weekly of nearby restaurant Noord mentions the fireworks. Writer Brian Freedman, for one, wasn’t bothered by them.

“One recent Saturday night, there was a wedding in full swing at the fountain at the center of East Passyunk Square just outside,” Freedman writes. “At one point, fireworks began to go off, a volley of them shooting into the warm summer sky—their green and purple and white sparks lighting up the night in the most unexpectedly dramatic way.”

Sounds pretty, but it’s too bad that the fountain is now off limits for private events because of it.

- Jennifer Lawson, @byjenlawson


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26 Responses to Wedding fireworks mean no more private events at the fountain

  1. AnthonyG September 10, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    A yes, move to South Philly, then complain that it’s not like Gladwyne. Like fireworks in South Philly are some sort of anomaly…

    • Toynbee September 10, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

      Exactly he, AG. In fact, they should have had drugs and prostitutes at the reception. After all, those aren’t rare either. In fact, I think I see actual trachcans in that photo! Outrageous! This is South Philly: litter the streets or GTFO, suburban scum. How dare PARC insist on following the law! We’ve got a reputation to uphold.

  2. Jennifer September 10, 2013 at 11:29 am #

    I am wondering about the lights. I assume they hung them for their event as that is when they appeared. But now they no longer are turned on and just hanging there. They need to be utilized or taken down.

    • Albert Stumm September 10, 2013 at 11:53 am #

      Jennifer, the lights were installed by PARC separate from the wedding. They’re supposed to be turned on every night. Have they not been on lately?

      • Jennifer September 10, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

        I see below they come on at 9….I am there a bit earlier.

      • David G September 11, 2013 at 10:04 am #

        Are you sure about that, Albert? Pretty sure they were installed by the wedding party.

        • Albert Stumm September 11, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

          I know that PARC installed and is planning to maintain them. They did go up about a week before the wedding and were turned on for several days before it. But I’m not sure if they were put up specifically for the party, so I’ll check.

        • Albert Stumm September 12, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

          For the record, it turns out I was half right. They were installed specifically for the wedding but PARC decided to keep them and will maintain them. Sam Sherman actually says they are considering adding some more and that they plan to adjust them to reflect the earlier sunset.

  3. TM September 10, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

    The lights go on later in the evening… around 9 or so. They need to adjust now that it’s getting darker earlier. It’s a great touch for the fountain.

    I’m surprised neighbors complained about fireworks close to their homes; on my block, the lifers have no problem setting off fireworks in the middle of the street next to their own cars.

    • Toynbee September 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

      It sometimes seems the lifers aren’t bothered by anything short murder or, worse, planting a street tree.

  4. AnthonyG September 10, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    Exactly TM. These people complain about the wedding’s fireworks because it is “safe” to do so. The other 364 days a year they’re holed up in the back yard, afraid to say boo about fireworks.
    Especially coming from a guy who obvisously idolizes a graffiti artist, eh ToynBee??

    • Toynbee September 10, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

      God forbid anyone should complain about anything without running out on the street and getting in the person’s face. It’s obviously the best way to handle any situation. Escalate the drama and whomever ends up left standing was clearly right. That’s what bothers me about traffic cops. Who needs ‘em? If someone cuts you off or blows off a stop sign, the best way to handle it is to shoot them.

      As for the pansies who complain anonymously, they should at least man up and call people out on an internet forum, just like John Wayne, Dirty Harry and AnthonyG used to.

  5. AJ September 10, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    Our dog wouldn’t go outside at night for a month because of that night. It was a good idea but the space may be better off remaining public only.

  6. AnthonyG September 10, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    @Toynbee: you need some lessons in urban living. You actually need to communicate with you neighbors, that’s how this works. Either way, you’ll be back in a little McMansion in 5 years.

    • Toynbee September 11, 2013 at 12:18 am #

      @AnthonyG: I’ll continue to communicate with my neighbors. I have no idea why I’d move to a McMansion after 24 years in South Philly.

      That said, if you think fireworks should be legal, you can work on that. Otherwise, please join this fabulous little social experiment we call “society”. Yeah, their are rules and penalties for breaking them, but the benefits are incredible.

  7. Jillian September 10, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    Fireworks go off on my south Philly block every week. In the south Philly neighborhood that I work in when we hear bangs we hope they are fireworks but they are usually bullets.
    This is not that big of a deal. It should not stop the space from being rented.

  8. AnthonyG September 11, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    @ Toynbee: B.S., I doubt your day over 24 years old. Otherwise you’d recall what USED to go on at that intersection and wouldn’t be whinning like a little puta.

    • Toynbee September 11, 2013 at 9:54 am #

      AnthonyG: My undergrad degree is older than that.

      Yes, illegal fireworks are better than, say, a nail bomb. Comparing the two is kinda like asking whether you want 4 day old fish or 2 week old fish for dinner. It’s an easy choice, but a false dichotomy.

      Your opinion seems to be that the improvements in the area since the 1980s mean we should call the job done and not bother with anything else.

      Fireworks are illegal. The law should be enforced or changed. Take your pick.

  9. Mark H September 11, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

    Agree Toynbee. Fireworks are illegal within city limits without permit. Who cares how long someone has lived in an area or not? That has nothing to do with the law.

  10. Dave September 11, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    If you really read the article completely you would understand that they really think that the park shouldn’t be used for such an event, fireworks or not. 11th St, Tasker St, & Passyunk Ave is a very busy intersection. Bus routes had to be re-routed and how do you justify renting a public space for a private function. I am glad myself that there will be no more private functions. How can anyone justify such a disruption to an entire neighborhood simply because they got married? I don’t think fireworks had anything to do with the decision.

  11. AnthonyG September 11, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

    @Dave: Sweet Jesus! Anyone can still hold a party on 11th St, right in front of the Fountain. If you get the signatures, you can have a party in the street. Happens. All. The. Time.

    In fact, I think I’m going to apply for a party permit, just because I CAN, and throw a party.
    And, yes, some unknown person may set of a firework or two :)

    • Toynbee September 12, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

      Why bother with a permit, AnthonyG? After all, compared to what used to happen there, a drug-fueled public orgy with dog fights culminating in a human sacrifice would be an improvement. Anyone who disagrees is obviously a spoiled 12 year old who should go back to the suburbs.

  12. EZ RIKER September 11, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    Clearly, this area needs a venue for weddings since we’re all fancy pants now…NEXT LEVEL!

  13. DeeMD September 13, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    I;m so glad that was the first and the last time!! The woman who wrote this article has no clue.. she thinks oh what a great idea..with no regard for the neighbors who had their streets blocked they could not move..Septa bus re-rerouted??? wow.. what politican pulled the string to get that done..for some yuppie some $$ passed hands ..very strange. Yeah we do things for the Mummers etc. and parades but not some private function.. If people want pics taken at the location it with traffic passing but who the hell does the organizers of this think they are that they can use this this area as another money making location ..for their profits.. if so then share it with the neighbors surrounding. And they also need to clamp down on the overgrown children who love setting fireworks off.. the hell with the pets, animals and elderly who do not need them going off all night. Oh and Ms. Lawson i bet you dont’ live anywhere near here..that you can cry over it not being done on a regular basis.\

  14. Jennifer Lawson September 13, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    @DeeMD – I can understand why you aren’t happy with the idea of private events being held there since it sounds like you live in the vicinity. It’s not likely to happen again, so that’s a good thing for everyone who was inconvenienced that day! I live at Passyunk and Moore, behind Stogie Joe’s. Have a good weekend and thanks for reading :)

  15. TM September 13, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

    DeeMD must be one of the lifers who drives around the corner to Rite Aid to get her smokes.

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