Anniversary party for Philly AIDS Thrift

Philly AIDS Thrift will celebrate its 18th anniversary with the return of its famous outdoor block party and fall festival to kick off the Halloween season. 

The 700 block of S. 5th Street and E. Passyunk Avenue between Bainbridge and Monroe Street will be overrun with a family- and pet-friendly fall festival on Sept. 30 from noon to 6 p.m. 

Festivities include a celebrity dunk tank, moon bounce, games, face painting, food trucks, carnival games, magicians, shopping, pie-eating contest, dozens of craft vendors and live music.

“We are so excited for our annual outdoor block party for 2023,” said Philly AIDS Thrift’s co-founder/executive director Christina Kallas-Saritsoglou. “Whether it’s to listen to great music, watch people shove pie into their faces as fast as humanly possible, dare to Double Dutch or simply dance in the middle of the street, everyone who stops by helps us raise even more money for local HIV/AIDS service organizations.”

The event will be emceed by Peabody Award-winning radio host and producer at WXPN, DJ Robert Drake. Live music will be performed by Rockers Galore, Sug Daniels, Tony and The Kiki and more to be announced. 

A Double Dutch Meetup will also take place, bringing an inclusive fun activity that aims to empower community building and promote fitness. Show off your skills or learn how to jump as ropes are provided.

Philly AIDS Thrift, which is located at 710 S. 5th St., will also be hosting its 4th Annual Pie Eating Contest, emceed by CBS 3’s Jim Donovan. The contest is open to everyone, however, spots are limited.

A Celebrity Dunk Tank will include Philly’s very own, “The Chicken Man” Alex Tominsky, the guy who ate 40 rotisserie chickens in 40 days, becoming a local Philly celebrity by completing his mission in an abandoned pier in South Philly. Stefanie Jolles from Philly’s Premier Punk Rock N Roll Shop, Crash Bang Boom, as well as the staff and volunteers at Philly AIDS Thrift will also brave the dunk tank.

In addition to commemorating 18 successful years, the block party kicks off the Halloween season, which is the busiest time for the nonprofit organization that has become known as one of the largest retail stores and destinations for costumes, accessories and decorations every year.

It helps raise money for an important mission. During its most recent grant cycle this year, Philly AIDS Thrift was able to award $370,000 to 27 local organizations.

“We have been raising millions of dollars for 18 years,” Kallas-Saritsoglou said. “I am so proud of the bonds and relationships that we have built with our amazing shoppers, the wonderful donors, our irreplaceable volunteers and the crucial service-providing organizations. I am simply filled with gratitude. We look forward to the years to come supporting local HIV/AIDS organizations and serving the community by selling interesting and affordable items through our fabulous thrift stores.”

On the quieter side of the festivities, there will also be over 30 craft and vintage vendors, including South Street Art Mart, Crash Bang Boom, De’von Downes, Imogen X Liu-Johnston and Skullduggery Studios.

“We all have days we look forward to every year, and our Block Party is one of mine,” said Philly AIDS Thrift Board President Michael Byrne. “Embracing all that makes us great, staff, volunteers, donors, but mostly community. Community supporting community while having a really great time.”