Heaven on wheels

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No matter the misery-inducing conditions that a sweltering summer can bring, the quest for contentment will always reign supreme, especially among South Philly residents. Inhabitants have had extra reasons to be excited this season, as Philadelphia Parks & Recreation has teamed with Wheel Fun Rentals to offer additional means to be merry at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, Broad Street and Pattison Avenue.

“There’s been a wonderful response to everything,” attendant Daniel Rivera said Saturday afternoon as he placed kayaks and peddle boats by the recreational site’s boathouse. “I love that this is making the park more usable to people, especially those who just recently learned about it.”

The West Philly dweller has worked for Wheel Fun Rentals for two-and-a-half years, helping his nearly three-decades-old employer to further its emphasis on offering “clean, healthy family fun and affordable outdoor entertainment.” The City of Philadelphia announced the partnership last month, with Rivera happy to have the chance to venture south.

“This is a wasteland to some people in the sense that they’re not aware of everything that they can do here,” he said as the sun began its p.m. assault on sweat glands. “Even on a hot day like today, people will come because this is something different.”

Wheel Fun Rentals’ website creatively explains the options, noting that one can “feel like a kid again as you achieve low-to-the-ground glory with a Chopper, Quad Sport, or Deuce Coupe.” Those choices and the aforementioned aquatic delights join surreys in helping residents to cover many of the green space’s 348 acres with an irrepressible smile.

“For the last several years, we’ve offered bike rentals from Boathouse Row in Fairmount Park and from the Independence Visitor Center in Center City,” operations director Mark Soto said. “And now, we are pleased to be offering both bike and boat rentals at FDR Park!”

With the implementation of local diversions, Rivera can proudly state that he has overseen adventures at all three Philadelphia destinations and bore a great grin as he fraternized with the Berenji family as it finished its journey in a double surrey.

“This is our first time at this park, and we’re very fond of it,” Marjan said as husband Homayon unfastened their son, Dean. “It’s somewhere that we will definitely visit again because our little one wants to go on a boat, but it’s way too hot to try that.”

When the University City occupants make a return engagement, they will be able to cover the watery wonder that has provided Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park with its nickname as “The Lakes.” They will follow in the paddle strokes of numerous individuals, as Rivera relayed that the boats have proven far more popular than the ground-based inducers of gregariousness.

“With the boats, when the temperatures are nice, there are these beautiful winds that just feel heavenly,” the overseer said. “As the weather becomes cooler, whenever that is since it’s tough to say with all of these hot days we’ve been having, I think people will really enjoy everything even more.”

The City of Philadelphia has long striven to increase its offerings to inhabitants, with South Philly an especially fortunate section. Last month, Parks & Recreation opened The Ryan Howard Training Center at The Marian Anderson Recreation Center, 740 S. 17th St., furthering the entity’s commitment to youth baseball and softball. The inclusion of bike and boat rentals in another stretch of South Philly gives further credence to its mission to make everyone healthier and happier.

“I am always thrilled to bring more programming options to popular parks like FDR,” commissioner Kathyrn Ott Lovell said, whose employer has been quite generous to the expanse through its relationship with, among others, the Friends of FDR Park, the Fairmount Park Conservancy, and the Growing the Neighborhood Volunteer Day. “Wheel Fun Rentals at FDR Park means more people who live in and visit the South Philly neighborhood will be able to engage in safe, healthy, outdoor fun all summer long.”

A visit to wheelfunrentals.com makes apparent that the fun will not end when the summer yields to fall, as weekend and holiday bliss will continue at FDR Park through mid-November, with the amenities returning in April.

“When I found out about the possibility of coming to FDR Park to do this, I was very excited,” Rivera said as he helped a family to return a double surrey. “As the summer has unfolded, I hope everyone has been having as much fun as I have.”

Shortly after he stated that, Gil and Louisa Montenegro approached with beaming smiles upon seeing choppers.

“We come here every weekend because the scenery is wonderful,” the latter, of the 1200 block of Christian Street, said as her husband paid for their rides. “We come here all the time as cyclists anyway, so we just think it’s great to support a company that wants to make the park even more appealing.” SPR

Call 267–698–5624 or 805–650–7770. Visit wheelfunrentals.com/Locations/Philadelphia-7.

Contact Editor Joseph Myers at jmyers@southphillyreview.com or ext. 124.

Wheel Fun Rentals opportunities will last at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park through mid-November. Photos by Tina Garceau

Wheel Fun Rentals opportunities will last at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park through mid-November. Photos by Tina Garceau