Around Town

Mario Lanza Museum Christmas Party on Dec. 2

The Mario Lanza Institute will host its annual Christmas party at the Mario Lanza Museum, 1214 Reed St., on Dec. 2, from 1-4 p.m.

The event will include a lunch of pizza and other goodies, a special memorabilia donation and a video presentation commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Maria Callas. 

The special memorabilia donation will be made by Steven Sacks of a booklet of sheet music used by conductor Ray Sinatra for Mario Lanza’s 1951 Christmas album for RCA Victor. It comes from the collection of his late Uncle Manie Sacks who was a vice president of RCA, RCA Victor and NBC and also worked for Columbia Records. Emanuel “Manie” Sacks had a long working relationship with many stars including Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore, George Burns and Jack Benny. He passed away in 1959 at the young age of 56. Steven Sacks gained interest in broadcasting through his father, his Uncle Manie and also Herman Rush. He has had an extensive career in local television in the Philadelphia area for many years and now serves on the Board of Directors for the Pioneers of Philadelphia Broadcasting. 

Maria Callas was one of the greatest and most controversial opera stars of the 20th century. Known as “La Divina” by her fans and noted for her distinctive voice and acting skills, she helped revive many Bel Canto masterpieces that had been seldom performed and was equally at home in the operas of Verdi and Puccini.

Mario Lanza was an ambassador for all good music. Through his films, concerts, recordings, radio show and television appearances, he brought great enjoyment to all who experienced his wonderful and exciting talent and introduced many to the world of opera for the first time.

The Mario Lanza Institute, a 501c3 nonprofit, was founded to help perpetuate Lanza’s dream of aiding young aspiring opera singers through scholarships. To date, the Institute has awarded over 300 scholarships.

Tickets for the Christmas party are $25 per person. Seating is limited for the event and on a first-come first-paid basis. To order tickets by credit card, call the Mario Lanza Institute at 215-238-9691. Checks for attending as well as donations may also be sent to Mario Lanza Institute, 1214 Reed St., Philadelphia, PA 19147. Visit for more information and make an online donation. 

Clef Club receives $250K for renovations

City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson presented the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts with $250,000 from the City of Philadelphia to support the institutions’s capital improvement campaign.

The check was presented on Nov. 9 at the Clef Club at 736 S. Broad St. 

The $250,000 will be used to support capital improvement of PCC’s headquarters, including support for the replacement of the roof, replacement of all HVAC systems, upgrading electrical and plumbing and exterior treatment on front of the building.  

The PCC Capital Campaign project began with an extensive study created by volunteers of Community Design Collaborative in 2017. The study assessed in detail existing structural conditions of PCC’s four-story building. In 2020, then-Gov. Tom Wolf released $600,000 to PCC as part of Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. The City of Philadelphia funds will leverage the $600,000 RACP grant award.

PCC has raised more than $1 million toward its $1.2 million capital campaign goal, which will help transform the iconic institution into a state-of-the-art performing arts center.

$125K in grants offered by Black Music City

A total of $125,000 in grants is being offered by Black Music City, the project that awards annual grants to Philadelphia-area black creatives for new artistic works that honor Philadelphia’s black music heritage. Local black creatives working in any artistic medium are encouraged to apply for individual Black Music City artistic grants from $1,500 to $5,000 each. 

Applications can be made at through Jan. 31. Past Black Music City grantees are also eligible to apply for grants to build upon their previous projects.

A selection committee of black Philadelphia professionals prominent in the arts, media and business communities will review the grant applications, from which 30 recipients will be selected. The 2024 Black Music City grant winners will be announced in March. 

In addition to the grant money they receive, each recipient is offered informational and support sessions before the completion of their new works. The creators and their new works are featured in videos, and celebrated online and in special events held during June, which is celebrated as Black Music Appreciation Month.

Established in 2020, Black Music City has increased the amount of available grant funds each year, awarding a total of $263,000 in grants to 99 recipients in its first three years. Lead support for Black Music City 2024 is being provided by the William Penn Foundation through a two-year Creative Communities grant.

Black Music City’s three founding partners – Philadelphia public radio music stations WXPN-FM and WRTI-FM, and REC Philly, a place for creators – administer the project and help promote the grant recipients and their new work to the broader Philadelphia arts community and beyond.

WXPN General Manager Roger LaMay said, “A goal for the Black Music City partners going forward is to not only continue to increase the amount of available funds, but also to increase opportunities for promotion and exposure of the selected artists and their work.”

Full information about available grants, eligibility and submission process is available at

Blink Fitness 5K Turkey Trot open to public

Blink Fitness will host its second annual Blinksgiving 5K Turkey Trot at Blink gyms, including the South Philly location at 330 Oregon Ave. this Thanksgiving. Offering a twist on the popular Thanksgiving tradition, Blink’s event will give runners the option for a fun and weatherproof indoor race on the treadmill. The Blinksgiving Turkey Trot is free and open to the public; pre-registration is encouraged.

Blink’s Turkey Trot event will start at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning, and participants are invited to walk, jog or run to log their pre-feast 5k.

To participate in the Blinksgiving Turkey Trot, runners can register online. For more information, visit

Treadmills are limited and on a first-come first-serve basis. Preference will be given to people who register prior to the event.

$112K in PA Farm Bill grants for schools

The Philadelphia House Delegation announced that $112,239 in grants has been awarded to schools in the city. The funds, distributed through the PA Department of Agriculture in coordination with the Farm-to-School Grants program, will support projects aimed at facilitating access to healthy, local food and improving nutrition awareness for children in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

The School District of Philadelphia received a $15,000 grant and South Philly institutions Caring People Alliance and the Children’s Playhouse Early Learning Center were also among the recipients who were given $15,000 grants.

“We are thrilled to welcome these grants for Philadelphia schools. Farm-to-School grants are a remarkable investment. It would help create a solid foundation for a healthy today and future for students,” said chairwoman Morgan Cephas.

Funded projects connect local farmers to schools to supply fresh, in-season products to be served in cafeterias, expanding market opportunities for farmers. Other projects support school gardens, field trips and other hands-on agriculture education, enriching early awareness of career opportunities.

Select library branches expanding to six-day service

Ten branches of the Philadelphia Free Library, including a pair in South Philly, will return to six-day service.

The Free Library of Philadelphia held a kickoff event at the Parkway Central Library for the return of consistent six-day service after a long hiatus. The first wave of libraries shifting to six-day service will consist of nine libraries beginning on Nov. 18.

“Philadelphians have been without consistent six-day library service for far too long, so this is truly a great day for our city. These additional hours will give residents more opportunities to access library resources that educate, entertain and empower,” said Mayor Jim Kenney.

The Charles Santore Library at 932 S. 7th St. and the Thomas F. Donatucci Library at 1935 Shunk St. are among those shifting to six-day service. Six-day service was made possible through the allocation of $37 million over five years by Kenney and City Council.

Sponsor a remembrance wreath for veteran

The Father Judge High School baseball team will participate in Wreaths Across America Day, when members of the state championship squad will place remembrance wreaths on graves at Washington Crossing National Cemetery. The team is seeing sponsors to help honor local heroes. You can help the team honor local heroes by sponsoring remembrance wreaths at Individuals or companies are also invited to pay by check. For details, email Nancy Weaver Henderson at Deadline to donate is Nov. 28. ••

Parkinson’s support group

Temple University Hospital – Jeanes Campus is offering a Parkinson’s disease support group for those who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and their families. The group will meet on the second Wednesday of every other month from 6-7 p.m. at the Cheltenham Friends Meetinghouse, 7604 Central Ave. The schedule is Dec. 13 (holiday party) and Feb. 14. The group is led by nurse practitioner June Ro, and will include guest speakers. To register, contact Ro at 215-707-2619 or ••

Trip to Bethlehem

The Polish American Cultural Center Museum is sponsoring a trip to Bethlehem, “The Christmas City,” from Dec. 14-16. The tour includes two night accommodations at The Windcreek Hotel and Casino; two $20 vouchers; $70 slot play; a visit to Pines Dinner Theater to see Holly Jolly Christmas, with lunch (BYOB); a tour of “The Lights on the Parkway;” a free day to gamble and shop at the outlets; a visit to the Christkindlmarkt (Christmas shopping and artisans craft markets); and round-trip motorcoach. The cost is $525 per person double occupancy or $700 single. For information and reservations, call Theresa Romanowski at 215-922-1700. ••

VFW looking for members

Bustleton-Somerton/CTR1 Michael J. Strange VFW Post 6617 meets on the third Wednesday of every month at American Legion Post 810, 9151 Old Newtown Road. Meetings start at 7:30 p.m. If you are a military veteran who served in a designated combat zone, you are eligible to join the VFW. Contact Commander Israel Wolmark at 215-725-0630 if you would like to join the post. ••