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Bridesburg is keeping the hype of a new riverfront park alive through pizza
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Bridesburg is keeping the hype of a new riverfront park alive through pizza

The artist-inspired community initiative #ThisPizzaIsAPark hopes to take on a life of its own fueling the excitement of a multi-acre park and bike trail in Bridesburg

When the Riverfront North Partnership announced the plan and previewed the renderings of a 10-acre park along the waterfront in Bridesburg in July, the news brought some much-needed hope. 

The park had only been a pipe dream for years until nearly $5 million in initial funding fueled this dream into a reality. Born of a dream to connect Bridesburg to the rest of the city, the park was also part of a plan to connect over two miles of trail running north to south along the river in an effort to bring more attention to a highly underused portion of Delaware River waterfront. 

But between delays caused by the pandemic and winter temperatures, Phase I on the project is still yet to begin, leaving some residents wondering what’s to come – and when. 

In an effort to keep residents excited about a new 10-acre park in Bridesburg, the community is using pizza as a place to showcase the art of what’s to come. | Image courtesy: Riverfront North Partnership

But hope in this neighborhood lives on through pizza, specifically limited-edition interactive pizza boxes delivered by neighborhood favorite Old English Pizza located on Richmond Street designed by community artists Aislinn Pentecost-Farren and Mary Welcome. Order a large pie, and you’ll receive an interactive slice of history on boxes featuring historical photos, pieces of Bridesburg inspired artwork, and trivia questions about the community and its historical impact on the waterfront. 

“A park is a space of community possibility, where people can play, share, and steward a space together. Before the park is built, it only exists in our imaginations, so that space of possibility is essentially limitless,” said Pentecost-Farren. “The pizza box is a slice of the park for people to experiment with [and] we wanted friends or family to be able to gather around and play together, learn something, and connect to the river, just like they’ll be able to when the park is finished.”

Where did this pizza idea get started?

The artist-inspired boxes highlight a two-year series of community engagement projects from Pentecost-Farren who collaborated with Welcome in the creation of artwork at area community centers and in a video series taking aim at introducing the history of Mighty Delaware to the community through a video series on Facebook entitled Bridesburg River Ways

Completion of the new 10-acre park in Bridesburg is expected in 2022. Until then, area residents are staying calm and eating pizza thanks to a new artist-inspired initiative. | Image courtesy: Riverfront North Partnership

“A pizza is more than a pandemic take-out option,” said Welcome, “pizza is a place where we can share ideas, tell stories, and time travel together. Pizza is a platform for community imagination!”

The boxes will be available at Old English Pizza while supplies last but the idea is expected to feed excitement throughout the community courtesy of the growing social media hashtag #ThisPizzaIsAPark

When will the new park be available to residents?

As for the park itself, construction is expected to take place this year with a completion date tentatively set for sometime in 2022, according to the Riverfront North Partnership. In the meantime, the group continues to raise funding for the projected $10 million project, raising nearly $5 million of initial funding courtesy of grants from PennDot, the William Penn Foundation and other sources. 

Until then the group is asking residents to stay calm and eat pizza. 

“When COVID-19 stopped all in-person programming in its tracks, we did not want to lose the momentum that was starting to build around Bridesburg Riverfront Park,” said Gina Craigo, community engagement manager at Riverfront North Partnership said. “Pizza delivery is one of the few things that continues without interruption, and unprecedented times call for innovative new ideas.”

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Kerith Gabriel
Kerith Gabriel started out as a sports writer over a decade ago for the Philadelphia Daily News. He left sports to focus on issues that deeply affect Philadelphians but really, he just loves telling a good story, regardless of genre. When he’s not prowling for a story, you can most likely find him playing soccer at Penn Park, or doing the dad thing around town. Email him at kerith.a.gabriel@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter via @sprtswtr. View all posts by Kerith Gabriel

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