by Pete Mazzaccaro
Last year, Chestnut Hill’s Harry Potter Festival’s success caught up with it. By the business district’s count, some 45,000 people congregated in Chestnut Hill for a weekend of wizard-themed festival last October. While business owners were pleased with the turnout, residents complained about parking and traffic tie-ups. Festival goers said there weren’t nearly enough bathroom facilities to support the crowd.
The Business District decided right away to tackle the problem with a series of surveys and planning sessions, most recently with the participation of the Philadelphia Police Department. The result was a comprehensive plan, the details of which were released to the Local on Monday. The changes will take effect for the 2017 festival that will begin on Friday Oct. 20 and run through Saturday Oct. 21.
“Following last year’s event, we received feedback from residents, near neighbors, and visitors,” said business district executive director Martha Sharkey. “We took the feedback very seriously and have been working to create an improved experience this year. Additional police presence for traffic and crowd control, more portable restrooms, and several off-site parking locations have been secured.”
According to the plan, the changes include moving activities off of Germantown Avenue to parking lots, freeing up the Avenue for foot traffic. The festival will have many more bathroom facilities and concession stands. Visitors will be asked to park at several satellite locations from which they can catch a shuttle bus to the festival.
For locations of shuttle transport, see below.
Most notable, however, will be the establishment of police checkpoints around the neighborhood to prevent unwanted vehicles from crowding Chestnut Hill’s residential streets – a real point of contention last year.
According to the plans released this week, Police will operate checkpoints beginning at 6 a.m. on Saturday, Oct 21. Only Chestnut Hill Residents will be allowed access and will be asked to show valid state drivers licenses with a 19118 address to gain entry.
That checkpoint area will extend from Northwestern Avenue on the north end of Germantown Avenue to Cresheim Valley Drive. It will stretch from Stenton Avenue on the East side of the neighborhood to St. Martin’s Lane on the West. The only through streets will be Cresheim Valley, Willow Grove, Bells Mills Road, and Hillcrest Avenue. Police expect the checkpoints to help control parking, but expect delays as a result.
Residents with guests should make sure those guests arrive on Friday or before. Vendors, business owners and employees will have the opportunity to secure special passes in order to get to work or to a festival event in which they are participating.
Sharkey said she hoped the much improved planning would demonstrate that the festival is sustainable.
“We feel the changes for this year’s event will help to make the experience better not only for the residents of Chestnut Hill and surrounding communities but also for the visitors attending the festival,” Sharkey said.
The Business District is in need of a large number of volunteers to help with information booths, hands-on activities, and more. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions regarding the street closures and plans for the festival, please contact the Chestnut Hill Welcome Center at 215-247-6696 or email@example.com. For a complete overview of the Harry Potter Festival, please visit www.chestnuthillpa.com.
Pete Mazzaccaro can be reached at 215-248-8802 or firstname.lastname@example.org
PARKING PLAN/SHUTTLE LOCATIONS
A number of satellite parking locations have been secured for visitors who choose to drive to the festival on Saturday; however, parking is limited. Use of public transportation and ride sharing is strongly encouraged.
A shuttle service will be available to transport visitors from each satellite location to the festival area. Visitors traveling to Chestnut Hill for the festival are strongly encouraged to utilize the provided satellite lots or public transportation.
Satellite Lots & Shuttles – There will be 3 individual shuttles running from 3 designated lots on the day of the festival.
- Parking Lot 1 – Plymouth Meeting Mall and Business Center
500 W. Germantown Pike & 600 W. Germantown Pike
1,500 available spots
Shuttle will depart from a central location between these two lots every 15 minutes.
- Parking lot 2 – Arcadia University
450 S. Easton Road
400 available spots
Shuttle will depart from this lot every 15 minutes.
- Parking lot 3 – Springfield Township High School
1801 Paper Mill Road
210 available spots
Shuttle will depart from this lot every 15 minutes.
Satellite Lots & Walking – There will be 3 designated lots that fall within walking distance of the festival footprint. There will be no shuttle service to or from these locations.
- Parking lot 1 – Seven Dolors School (1.2 mile walk to the festival)
1200 E. Willow Grove Avenue
50 available spots
- Parking lot 2 – Wyndmoor Firehouse (1.1 mile walk to the festival)
1043 E. Willow Grove Avenue
200 available spots
- Parking lot 3 – New Covenant Church (.6 mile walk to the festival)
7500 Germantown Avenue
300 spots available
Handicap Parking – There are 2 parking lots dedicated to handicap individuals. There will also be an ADA vehicle shuttling between Chestnut Hill College and the Chestnut Hill Presbyterian Church. Festival attendees MUST show valid credentials to access the handicap parking lots
- Handicap lot 1 – Blossom Philadelphia (.2 mile to the Festival)
102 E. Mermaid Lane
120 spots available
- Handicap lot 2 – Chestnut Hill Presbyterian Church (.3 mile to the Festival)
8855 Germantown Avenue
75 spots available
Important Overnight Parking Note: There will be no overnight parking permitted on Germantown Avenue beginning 3 a.m. on Saturday, October 21. Any cars remaining on the street after this time will be towed. Additionally, only Chestnut Hill residents and credentialed businesses, vendors, media, and entertainment will be allowed vehicular access into the area surrounding the Festival footprint. All festival attendees driving to the area must park in designated parking areas.