Orton Park Ready to Celebrate

47th Orton Fest is here despite lingering noise and crowd concerns

In 1975 the festival was known as the MNA picnic. Rented from the City was a trailer that transformed into a stage. Courtesy: Richard and Judith Guyot

The Orton Park Festival (August 23-26) is just days away in this year of the perpetual summer. After Orton there is just one last neighborhood gathering to go, the Willy Street Fair. The Fair, The Fest, La Fete and Waterfront have been fantastic neighborhood celebrations; but may be a victim of their own successes as they have grown exponentially in popularity, and for some, threaten the beauty of the neighborhood they celebrate.

As a kid over three decades ago, the Orton Park Festival was the last event of the summer since it always seemed to fall on the Sunday before the first day of school. That would be Monday, the very next day. So it was a bittersweet time, filled with games, food, music, and my friends, but the first day of school always loomed.

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Willy Street Park says ‘Thank You!’

The Willy Street Park has been a green refuge just off the street for over 30 years.

Over 30 years ago the owner of a small parcel of land on the corner of Williamson and Brearly Streets started building a Taco Johns restaurant.  Horrified by the prospect of a nondescript fast food establishment clashing with the fabric of the neighborhood the local community organized against it and the building was never completed. In its place grew the Willy Street Park, a welcome patch of green space along Williamson that has been operated by an all-volunteer corporation; tending to the gardens, flower beds, and trees while making constant improvements.  Continue reading