11:54 PM / Thursday March 30, 2023

15 Oct 2011

MCIC brings the smiles and the fun at the Mantua Family Day Festival

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October 15, 2011 Category: Oasis Posted by:

By Thaddeus Govan


ABOVE PHOTO: Old school rapper Chubb Rock entertains the Mantua festival crowd.


Sabrina Ram called me on my cell at 2:45 PM in the afternoon. It was Saturday, September 11th, and I was caught in a vicious traffic jam on the Expressway. She told me that she was already at the Mantua Family Day Festival, and was checking on my arrival. I told her I would have already been there, but traffic being what it was that day, I was a little stuck.


When I got to 34th and Mantua Ave., everything was already underway. Sabrina, who is the president of Blu-Lotus Public Relations, was resplendent in purple high heels and a beautiful print dress. She ushered me to the staging area. She handles press relations for Mantua Community Improvement Corporation; also know as “MCIC,” the sponsor of this event. The venue for this was a street corner in West Philadelphia. Known as “The Bottom,” the corner of 33rd and Fairmount in the Mantua section of Philly has probably been the site where some mighty ugly things have happened in days gone by. But this day everyone had a happy face on and seemed very satisfied. Some children were riding on horses, people were eating water ice, and everyone was swaying to the beat of the DJ.


Chubb Rock rocked the crowd with raps he had made famous in the 1980’s and ’90’s and Kwame and Slick Rick, who were backstage, were preparing to go on. Naughty By Nature, who was scheduled to top off the evening’s performance, were still on their way. They had more than likely been caught in the same traffic jam I had just gotten out of, because they were driving in from Newark, New Jersey. As the day dissolved into night, the music continued to flow, and good vibrations permeated the whole area. When Naughty By Nature finally arrived, the crowd was so ecstatic you could just feel it in the air.


Rick Young, Executive Director of MCIC, says “this is a day for the families in this neighborhood.” Having started MCIC in the year 2000, it seems as if he was just fed up with the way his neighborhood looked. “I got $1,500 from my savings, brought some shovels and brooms, hired some of the guys around here, and just started sweeping up.”


Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell confirms this. “Rick is a leader in this community,” she says. “He came down to city hall to see what we could do to help improve his neighborhood, and I told him I’d help in any way I could.” Eleven years later, MCIC is well on its way to fulfill Mr. Young’s vision. With Councilwoman Blackwell’s assistance, MCIC has gotten involved community development as well as neighborhood clean-up. “We have a development arm now, and we’re looking to get some of the blighted homes in this area fixed up and put back on the market,” says Mr. Young.


From the looks of things, the effect of Councilwoman Blackwell and Mr. Young’s initial involvement is paying off. There are some new homes being built right around the corner from where we are right now, and one block of new homes is almost completely occupied.


Let’s hope that their efforts continue to bear fruit.

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