Haddon Heights in Progress combines street performances from local musicians with luxury European cars for a one-of-a-kind cruise night July 22.
By Matt Skoufalos | July 17, 2017
The summer months can be lean times for small-town shopping districts, and Station Avenue in Haddon Heights is no exception.
For the local business boosters of Haddon Heights in Progress (HIP), however, those sluggish weekends can be brought to life with a little bit of community programming.
Taking advantage of the warmer weather, the group is looking to continue the theme this Saturday with “Heights or Busk,” which invites visitors to a modified cruise night with street performers.
From 5 to 8 p.m. on July 22, a dozen musicians will busk—singing on the sidewalks for tips from passersby—at four locations in the 500 and 600 blocks of Station Avenue: outside of Carole’s Candy Corner, Gradwell House Recording Studio, Local Links, and the Haddon Heights Library.
“Music is proven here on Friday nights,” HIP Co-Director Joe Gentile said. “If you have an event, people come out.”
The tradition of busking originated in Europe, so Gentile reasoned it would be well complemented with a cruise night featuring European classic cars.
Haddon Heights resident John Palma, of Palma’s Automotive in nearby Audubon, offered to bring some by.
Palma, who sits on the boards of both the National Rolls Royce Owners Club and the Rolls Royce Foundation, will curate a display of a dozen or so Rolls Royces and Bentleys from his personal collection and those of his customers, whom he said “don’t mind sharing.
“We have quite a following,” Palma said. “A lot of these people drive their cars; they’re not hangar queens.”
Gearheads should be on the lookout for a one-off 1997 Bentley Turbo RL built for Manhattan Motorcars by Mulliner Park Ward, a 1985 Rolls Royce Corniche II convertible, and a 1954 Rolls Royce Silver Dawn, among others.
Palma said he loves the idea of bringing music to Station Avenue, and is happy for the opportunity to showcase the vehicles.
“I think it’s pretty nice to see people getting involved and getting people out of the house,” he said.
HIP Co-Director Fabian Brown said the free event is meant to showcase the historic Station Avenue downtown and the local businesses that line it.
He hopes the buskers will give visitors an excuse to linger in the community and a fond memory to spur return trips.
“We’re bringing a little Philly to East Philly,” Brown said, conjuring up the nickname local musicians like Matt Cappy have given the borough.
“You get people doing their thing,” he said. “You get a great wealth of musicians.”
In true busking spirit, the musicians will be playing for tips on Saturday. Brown said their repertoires will span a range of styles, all family-friendly.
“The open [guitar]case means throw a dollar bill in,” Brown said. “They’re creating real good, original music. They’re volunteering their time.”
Gentile said the event is one in a series of HIP-planned downtown events entitled “Summer Night Heights.” The first installment, “School’s Out for Summer,” was rained out in June. He’s hoping for better luck with the follow-up. There is no rain date if weather interferes again.
“Saturday nights need some love here,” Gentile said. “There’s people around. If you don’t create something to do, they don’t come out. If we get 50 more people on the avenue, then we’ve done our job.”
“Support your downtown, support your local musicians, support the businesses,” Brown said.
Rob Sankey and Friends – 5 to 8 p.m.
Starting at 4 p.m., inflatable bounce houses will be provided for children outside of Carole’s Candy Corner and Gradwell House.
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