by Pete Mazzaccaro

October is here, and it’s a busy month in Chestnut Hill. The first notable event is this Sunday, Oct. 5: the annual Fall for the Arts Festival, one of the neighborhood’s two annual blockbuster festivals that draw hundreds of vendors and tens of thousands of people from all over the region who will peruse artists’ stalls, buy local food and hear local live music.

The festivals remain, perhaps, the best showcases for Chestnut Hill. They not only show off the neighborhood as a great venue for such an event but are a testament to how capable the Chestnut Hill Business Association/Business Improvement District is at organizing the thing. It’s easily the biggest event that happens in Chestnut Hill every year, and it continues to run without an issue.

Our special sections editor Ruth Russell assembled a 16-page section with all the information about the festival you could ask for.

Later this month is a fledgling event that’s threatening to become nearly as popular: The Harry Potter Weekend, which takes place along Germantown Avenue in conjunction with Chestnut Hill College’s annual Quidditch tournament.

The weekend begins with a “pub crawl” of Chestnut Hill on Friday, Oct. 17, followed by a day’s worth of events on Saturday, Oct. 18, and concludes with a “Firebolt 5k” run – a fundraiser hosted by the Friends of J.S. Jenks Elementary school.

The Harry Potter Weekend is a huge must-attend for kids, who can play games, create art and even take classes in “the dark arts.” It just might be the biggest event dedicated to Harry Potter on the planet. It’s hard to imagine how it could be greater.

We will have a full run-down of that weekend’s events in an upcoming issue of the Local, so stay tuned.

Safety first

I apologize for an abrupt change in tone, but it’s worth addressing the attack of a 51-year-old woman in Wissahickon Park last Friday.

Rumors swirled throughout the weekend that, fortunately, turned out to be worse than what actually happened. The woman was hurt but managed to fight off her assailant and find aid from another park user.

That the rumors spread so fast demonstrates just how concerned all of Northwest Philadelphia’s residents are for the park, which might be the single greatest thing that unites people here no matter what neighborhood they live in. Whether you live in Roxborough, Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy or Germantown, chances are you’re a frequent user of the Wissahickon.

Though the attack was not as bad as advertised, it was no doubt devastating to the victim and has provided us with yet another reminder that as beautiful as the Wissahickon is, runners, walkers and cyclists should never assume they’re safe, particularly on the many trails that snake through the woods away from Forbidden Drive.

Two of the most important safety tips are worth repeating: Always run, walk or bike with a friend and don’t wear headphones. Many of us like to listen to music while we run, but they invariably reduce our awareness of our surroundings.

So if you’re a regular park user, just take extra care to make sure you’re doing so safely.