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Parks On Tap: Traveling Beer Garden to Pop Up in Neighborhood Parks

  Summer beer gardens have been popping up across the city in increasing numbers in recent years — and a dozen more will be making the rounds in the coming weeks.

   Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation recently launched their Parks on Tap program, a mobile beer garden that will travel to parks across the city through October.

Aviator Park/Patrick Clark

Aviator Park/Patrick Clark

   Parks on Tap kicked off June 29 at the Schuylkill Banks at Walnut Street Bridge and Shofuso Japanese House and Garden the following weekend.

   Upcoming local events include:

  • July 20-25 at Aviator Park at Franklin Institute, 263 N. 20th St.
  • Aug. 12-14 at Playing Angels Park, Kelly and Fountain Green drives
  • Aug. 26-28 at Franklin’s Paine Skatepark, North 24th Street
  • Sept. 7-11 at Fairmount Water Works, 640 Water Works Drive
  • Sept. 16-18 at Mt. Pleasant Mansion, 3800 Mt. Pleasant Drive
  • Sept. 28-Oct. 2 at Lemon Hill, Sedgley and Lemon Hill drives

   Parks on Tap runs from 1 PM-11 PM Fridays and Saturdays and noon-10PM Sundays, with evening weekday hours at some locations.

   Parks and Rec commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell said the program grew out of the growing popularity of pop-up public spaces, such as The Oval, which features a beer garden, live music, movie nights and more each summer at Eakins Oval. That effort, also a joint venture of Parks and Rec and Fairmount Park Conservancy, was slated to run for three years, but is now in its fourth year.

Paines Park/Patrick Clark

Paines Park/Patrick Clark

   “The Oval was insanely successful,” Ott Lovell said, noting officials wanted to parlay that idea into a travelling effort to encourage Philadelphians to utilize city parks. “We thought mobile pop-up beer gardens could be a great way to activate our parks; active parks are safer, healthier and better-stewarded by the people using them.”

   Organizers put out a request for proposals, ultimately bringing on board FCM Hospitality’s Avram Hornik, who conceived of Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s first pop-up garden in 2013, as well as Morgan’s Pier and other outdoor spaces.

   Officials met with park groups from around the city in the last year to generate their buy-in and created a schedule that invites locals into parks with which they may not be familiar.

   “It’s a unique experience that innovates the traditional park picnic and also helps you get to know your city,” Ott Lovell said of Parks on Tap. “A lot of these parks aren’t places you might normally go on your own, so it’s almost like a curated tour of city parks.”

   At each venue, guests will have the opportunity to partake in five draft beers while noshing on sliders and snacks crafted by Mitch Prensky of Global Dish Caterers and Scratch Biscuits. Program organizers will provide activities at each locale, including live music, games and Saturday yoga, the latter of which is offered at noon on a pay-what-you-can basis. Each park will also offer its own activities.

Lemon Hill Mansion/Patrick Clark

Lemon Hill Mansion/Patrick Clark

   Water Works will invite guests to its Sunday Cinema series, which will feature ecological documentary “Oceans” Sept. 11.

   Dionne Watts-Williams, communications and special-events manager at Water Works, said the Parks on Tap program is a good opportunity for the venue to reach new audiences.

   “We often host school groups and summer camps, but this will be a more mature, professional audience,” Watts-Williams said, noting that many adults may recognize the Water Works’ iconic name or building, but aren’t familiar with its rich history and ongoing mission. “We’re always looking at different ways to draw attention to not only our site’s history but also the importance of being what we call watershed stewards — understanding the impact of our actions on land on our water resources, and how important it is to take care of our environment. We’re looking forward to reaching out to a different demographic with this event.”

   Depending on how the inaugural Parks on Tap program goes, Ott Lovell said, officials will consider returning, and even expanding it, next year. It may also generate discussions about installing permanent concessions stands in some of the parks, she added.

   “This is a fantastic opportunity to look at some long-term plans for our city parks,” Ott Lovell said.

Mt Pleasant Mansion/Patrick Clark

Mt Pleasant Mansion/Patrick Clark

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