Kutztown comes together for Block Party

Kutztown University Pop Ensemble opened the live entertainment at the Kutztown Block Party on April 23. Among the opening songs they performed, “Come Together” by The Beatles.
Kutztown University Pop Ensemble opened the live entertainment at the Kutztown Block Party on April 23. Among the opening songs they performed, “Come Together” by The Beatles. Lisa Mitchell - Digital First Media
Peace. Love. Kutztown campaign spread peace and love during the Kutztown Block Party on April 23. Left to right are Kutztown resident Arabel Elliott, KMS teacher Beth Patten, KMS Counsellor Hallie Shumacher, Sophia Arnold, 12; and KU student Allison Wade.
Peace. Love. Kutztown campaign spread peace and love during the Kutztown Block Party on April 23. Left to right are Kutztown resident Arabel Elliott, KMS teacher Beth Patten, KMS Counsellor Hallie Shumacher, Sophia Arnold, 12; and KU student Allison Wade. Lisa Mitchell - Digital First Media

Kutztown University Pop Ensemble performed “Come Together” by The Beatles on a crowded Main Street with an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 people during the Kutztown Community Block Party on April 23.

“We invite vendors to come out to showcase their work, their skills, to show their clubs. We have a lot of really great attractions,” said Maggie Stange, Kutztown Community Partnership Office Manager. “We try to have student groups represented, local businesses are doing things and then community members because KCP’s job is to make sure that this community works together to be the best it can be.”

The Block Party featured 130 vendors in comparison to last year’s estimated 100 vendors and the previous year about 70. There was a rock wall, bouncy house, face painting, sand art, elementary student art show at the Eckhaus Art Gallery, Kutztown Ambulance vehicles, Northeastern Berks EMS vehicle and CPR demonstrations, dunk tank, tacos and gyros, petting zoo, pony rides, cotton candy, booths set up by community and KU organizations.

“The coolest thing is that the Block Party is all volunteer run,” said Stange. “I hope people realize that this is all volunteer run. I hope they realize this is something they have a say in. It’s their town and they can come out and make things happen.”

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KCP interns, committee members, board members and volunteers helped make the community event possible. Stange invites community members to come out to KCP office to help with future events.

“People all came together to work together. People are not being paid to make this event happen,” said Stange. “People are like this is my community and I want to be a part of it and do great things in it so it’s just really great to have them all out together.”

Main Street was crowded with people throughout the day, friends greeting friends.

“It’s so much fun saying hi to everybody you see,” said Kutztown Community Library Director Janet Yost, Kutztown.

“100, 200, 300 blocks are all being used right now, so super fun,” said Stange.

One of the main events hosted by the Kutztown Community Partnership, the Community Block Party closed three blocks of Main Street from 1 to 6 p.m.

Live entertainment was opened by the KU Pop Ensemble, a 12-piece band. A variety of music was performed by nine bands on two stages throughout the event.

“They started playing and I said, KU Pop Ensemble rocks!” said Stange.

The rocking tunes of classic rock enticed people to the intersection of Main and Whiteoak streets. Arabel Elliott, Kutztown, and her daughter, Sophia Arnold, 12, danced together in the middle of the street.

“I love that there is so many different people and parts of our community that are represented at the Block Party and I love that it brings everybody out and we’re all together and enjoying each other,” said Elliott. “It’s a really wonderful celebration of everything Kutztown has to offer.”

Elliott was also out at the Peace. Love. Kutztown. Stop Hate Together campaign table with one of the organizers, Kutztown Middle School teacher Beth Patten.

“We are trying to spread peace and to spread love and we’re trying to unify the community amongst hate,” said Patten, encouraging people to like them on Facebook and Instagram.

There was a coloring contest for children and they asked Block Party attendees to hold a “I Am Kutztown” sign and a “Peace. Love. Kutztown. Stop Hate Together” sign for photos that were shared on Facebook and Instagram.

Diane and Joe Piscitelli, Kutztown, enjoyed the music performed by the KU Pop Ensemble on Main Street.

“The music is great but the other thing is it really brings out people in the community, which is nice,” said Diane, who has been involved with KCP for many years.

She also likes that the Block Party unifies Kutztown Borough and Kutztown University.

“It’s really great for the residents to get to know what we have at the University,” she said, noting that the University and Town relations are excellent. “They’ve come a long way, mostly because of Sandy Green and the President of the University, they have a good line of communication.”

Green has been Mayor of Kutztown for 12 years, but will not be running in the upcoming election.

Local businesses had their doors open also, including new businesses hosting grand openings: Grab N Go Mart at the former Firefly location; Robyn Jasko and Paul David celebrated the grand opening of Hive at 236 West Walnut Street, a “farm to take-out restaurant serving organic local soups, salads, sandwiches, teas, coffees, breads, cheeses and products from the NYC Greenmarkets; and Firefly Bookstore celebrated its new location and hosted a book signing by local authors.

Kutztown Community Partnership also host the Community Meet and Greet, Art Soiree, Kutztown Kruizz, Dinner on Main, Chocolate Crawl, and Christmas in Kutztown. For more information, contact KCP at 484-646-9069 or email at kcp@hometownu.com.

About the Author

Lisa Mitchell

Lisa Mitchell is the editor of The Kutztown Patriot and Managing Editor of Berks-Mont Newspapers. Reach the author at lmitchell@berksmontnews.com or follow Lisa on Twitter: @kutztownpatriot.