Photos by Brian Rudnick
by Pete Mazzaccaro
After last year’s festival that saw many Chestnut Hill residents and festival goers complain of long lines, terrible traffic and shortages of both bathrooms and water, last weekend’s Harry Potter Festival appears to have gone off without a hitch.
According to Martha Sharkey, executive director of the Chestnut Hill Business District, which hosts the festival every year, the planning for this year’s festival to avoid the pitfalls of the last paid off.
“The 7th Annual Harry Potter Festival was in one word: magical,” she said. “In terms of visitor experience, we have received a significant amount of early feedback with guests and Chestnut Hill neighbors relaying positive messages for the overall management, accessibility, transportation, public safety, food options, activities, and more. The Chestnut Hill Business District team worked closely with our community partners, residents, event management team, municipal services, vendors, and neighboring communities to ensure area residents and visitors to Chestnut Hill had a better experience.”
Although earlier thinking the crowd size might expand from last year, the estimated festival attendance remained the same: 45,000 visitors. This time, however, the neighborhood was ready to receive them.
“The satellite parking lots were full, and the shuttles were moving all day. Our partners with parking lots within walking distance also welcomed hundreds of festival attendees to their locations,” Sharkey said. “We worked very hard this year to communicate the transportation plan with visitors. The additional portable restrooms were noted by many visitors in addition to all of the food options.”
Asked about any hardships, Sharkey said things were smooth. As of this writing, the Local hadn’t heard as much as one complaint – a big contrast from last October. Sharkey said she felt the Chestnut Hill Business District had learned a lot and had a model for future festivals.
“We learn something new with every event and festival we host,” she said. “We will continue to learn valuable takeaways as the Harry Potter Festival evolves and grows. As with most large-scale events with so many moving parts, there are certainly things we can refine and improve. Overall, I would say our team was prepared in advance of the festival and was able to be agile enough to address any challenges that arose in a timely manner.”
Sharkey had a long list of parties to thank for the smooth sailing.
I would like to especially thank the CHBD Team, Harry Potter Festival Steering Committee and Board leadership, Chestnut Hill College, Roberts Event Group, Captain Hearn and the 14th Police District, Plymouth Whitemarsh, Springfield Township, the City of Philadelphia’s Managing Directors Office, SEPTA, our association members, and all of our institutional partners,” she said. “Teamwork and communication was the key to this year’s successful festival.”
Link for photo album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/buhrayin/albums/72157687606463220
Pete Mazzaccaro can be reached at 215-248-8802 or firstname.lastname@example.org