Around Town

High school students invited to enter I AM PHL contest

PhillyGoes2College’s “I AM PHL” contest invites Philadelphia high schoolers to submit original works to be featured at the Wawa Welcome America Festival.

The contest invites students to submit one of four categories: music, visual art, spoken word, or investment. The investment submission, in partnership with Vanguard, asks students to create an investment recommendation based on a Vanguard-designed case study. Winners of each category will receive one-of-a-kind prizes, including the opportunity to perform or display their work at this summer’s Wawa Welcome America Festival (June 19 through July 4) and a $1,000 prize per category winner.

 “I AM PHL is a celebration of our incredible high school students and the city of Philadelphia. It is about finding and fostering community – a rich community right here in Philadelphia where students can connect with peers and professionals who share their passions and support their goals,” said Kelly Staskel, director of PhillyGoes2College at the Philadelphia Education Fund.

Students are asked to respond to one of two prompts including “Great Things Are Happening in Philadelphia” or “I Am College Bound.” Entries will be judged by a panel of experts and the winner of each category will receive a prized mentorship from a leading professional in their field.

QuentinThePoet, storyteller and executive director of We the People Stage, will mentor the Spoken Word category winner. Benjamin Thomas, Grammy-winning engineer, producer and mixer, founder of After5 Studios and co-owner of nicethingsMUSIC, will mentor the Musical Performance category winner. Jane Golden, artist and executive director of Mural Arts Philadelphia, will mentor the Visual Art category winner. Vanguard investment professionals will mentor and lead the Investment category winner.

The submission period is open and there will be a celebratory kickoff event on Feb. 10 at University of the Arts. Submissions are due by April 19 and the winners will be announced in May. Visit for contest tips and entry information. 

House Judiciary approves bill to end ‘ghost guns’

The PA House Judiciary Committee approved a measure, 14-11, sponsored by state Reps. Morgan Cephas and Malcolm Kenyatta aimed at ending the proliferation of “ghost guns” in Pennsylvania. The bill would impose a felony of the third degree on anyone who sells or purchases a firearm or firearm parts without serial numbers.  

President Joe Biden took executive action in 2022 requiring background checks for someone purchasing a gun kit, as well as for the sellers of kits. However, gaps in Pennsylvania law allow the high demand for untraceable “ghost guns” and gun parts to be met without any oversight. 

Cephas said these firearms are a main driver of crime, particularly in Philadelphia.

“Ghost guns are far too easily obtainable in Philadelphia and in our neighboring municipalities, leading to a disproportionate effect on the day-to-day gun violence in our communities, specifically in communities of color.”  

Cephas added that the state must act because city government is prevented from doing so.

“Due to local preemption laws, Philadelphia or any other municipality across the state cannot enact their own reforms to address the specific problems facing their local communities, so today’s step by the House Judiciary Committee is a meaningful action for addressing the gun violence epidemic in Philadelphia,” Cephas said. 

As a co-prime sponsor of the bill, Kenyatta said he understands the urgency to help law enforcement on the issue. 

“H.B. 777 is one of the most important pieces of legislation I’ve sponsored, because it will save lives,” Kenyatta said. “The impact of untraceable firearms on our communities is unfathomable. We need to get ‘ghost guns’ out of the hands of criminals and folks who shouldn’t have access to firearms. The 181st District and all communities in Philadelphia are crying out for help — getting these guns off our streets is an important step. Closing the loopholes will help us save the lives of countless Pennsylvanians.” 

Broad Street Run returns May 5

The 2024 Independence Blue Cross Broad Street Run will be held on May 5, with a 7:30 a.m. start, city officials announced.

The nation’s largest 10-mile road race returns to its traditional date of the first Sunday in May, after a scheduled Phillies game last year moved the race up a week. This year, a Phillies game on May 5 will push the start time up a half-hour to 7:30 a.m.

The Broad Street Run also returns to the traditional finish line in the Navy Yard, meaning the course will be a straight line from the start line at Somerville and Broad, with no turns. Construction at the Navy Yard moved the finish line for the 2021-2023 races. Once again, kids’ events and post-race activities will be held, and spectators are welcome to cheer on runners along the course. 

“We are delighted that the Independence Blue Cross Broad Street Run is back to its normal date and race course,” said Mayor Cherelle Parker. “This race always generates excitement and enthusiasm not only for the runners, but for their families and friends who come out to cheer them on. We wish every participant a safe, healthy and fun experience on Broad Street on May 5th.” 

NBC10 will broadcast the race live beginning at 7:30 a.m. and will stream it live on all digital platforms. Telemundo62 will broadcast live coverage of the race in Spanish from 7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. and will simulcast the race in its entirety on Telemundo Noreste on all streaming platforms as well.

Registration will open Feb. 1 at 12:01 a.m. and close on Feb. 15, at 11:59 p.m. The race will welcome up to 40,000 runners. Registrants will be accepted through a lottery system or have the option of running on behalf of a charity partner. Runners will be notified the week of Feb. 19 if they have secured a race bib through the lottery.

Property Tax/Rent Rebates available

Hundreds of thousands of older adults and Pennsylvanians with disabilities are now eligible to apply for a rebate up to $1,000 through the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. The maximum standard rebate is now $1,000 (up from $650).

The program’s income limits have been increased to $45,000 and made equal for both homeowners and renters — the first time since 2006 the income limits have been raised. This change makes nearly 175,000 additional Pennsylvanians eligible for the PTRR program.

“I’ve traveled all across the commonwealth, and I’ve heard firsthand from seniors who told me we need to do more to help them keep up with rising prices,“ said Gov. Josh Shapiro. “Whether it’s in the Lehigh Valley or out in Erie, rising costs are affecting Pennsylvanians in every corner of our state – and I promised that my administration would lead the way to cut costs and put money back in your pockets. The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program has long been a lifeline for our seniors – especially those on a fixed income – and that’s why my administration brought together folks on both sides of the aisle to expand this tax rebate to an additional 175,000 Pennsylvanians. This is what it looks like when we work together to put partisanship aside and get stuff done for Pennsylvania.”

Shapiro encouraged eligible applicants to use myPATH, the Department of Revenue’s online filing system, to apply for rebates on property taxes and rent paid during 2023. There is also a Spanish version of the online application available for the first time this year.

Shapiro also explained the PTRR program’s income limits will now be tied to the cost-of-living, meaning that people won’t be priced out of the program in the future as they have been in recent years. This will be an important change for a program that at one point annually delivered more than 600,000 rebates to applicants across the commonwealth but has benefited only 430,000 or so applicants in recent years because the income limits remained unchanged for so long. 

The PTRR program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older.

Submitting an application through myPATH does not require signing up for an account. Filing online gives instant confirmation that a claim has been successfully filed. Applicants also will have access to automatic calculators and other helpful features that are not available through the paper application.

It’s free to apply for a rebate and assistance is available at hundreds of locations across the state: Department of Revenue district offices, local Area Agencies on Aging, senior centers and state legislators’ offices. You must reapply for rebates every year as they are based on annual income and property taxes or rent paid during the prior year.

Rebates will be distributed beginning July 1 as required by law. New or first-time filers should anticipate that it will take additional time to review their applications and process their rebates. The deadline to apply is June 30. For more information and to access forms/instructions, visit or call 888-222-9190 for assistance. 

Coffee & Conversation

Bella Victor Ministries, 1128 Cottman Ave., will host Coffee & Conversation on Sunday, Jan. 28, at 2 p.m. The event is for people looking for a prosperous and peaceful path. Call or text 215-526-7749. ••

Evans, Scanlon oppose open borders resolution

U.S. Reps. Dwight Evans and Mary Gay Scanlon opposed a resolution denouncing the Biden administration’s open border policies. The resolution passed 225-187, with 14 Democrats in favor. Millions of illegal immigrants, including violent criminals, have entered the United States during President Joe Biden’s term, and the resolution blames Biden for halting construction of a wall. The resolution said the lax policies have allowed deadly fentanyl to enter the country and have made every state a border state, and that Biden’s push for amnesty for illegals will encourage many more to come. ••

Valentine’s Day dinner and show

The Buck Hotel will present Valentine’s Day with the Romantic Sounds of Sinatra & Friends, starring Joey C, on Friday, Feb. 9. Doors open at 6 p.m. The show starts at 6:30. The cost is $68, which includes dinner, dancing, the show and taxes and gratuities. The Buck is at 1200 Buck Road in Feasterville. Tickets are available at For more information, call 215-317-7675. ••

Sign up for senior softball

The Philadelphia Senior Softball League is looking for experienced players for its 68-and-over and 58-and-over leagues. The 58-plus teams play Tuesdays and Thursdays. The 68-plus teams play Mondays and Fridays. All games start at 10 a.m. and are played at Crispin Fields, at Holme and Convent avenues. Games start mid-April and run till the end of September. No games in July. For the 58-plus league, call Mike Bojanowski at 215-801-4869. For the 68-plus league, call Marty King at 215-409-5021. ••

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 on Feb. 14.

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 group is led by nurse practitioner June Ro, and will include guest speakers.

To register, contact Ro at 215-707-2619 or ••

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. ••

Trip to Northern Europe

The Bristol Cultural and Historical Foundation is presenting a Northern Europe: Iceland, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium and London cruise, July 25 to Aug. 4, 2024, aboard the new “Norwegian Prima.”

Rates per person are $6,261 and $6,495, which include roundtrip airfare from Philadelphia.

Deposit of $350 per person double occupancy is required when booking.

Final payment by Feb. 27.

Call 215-788-9408. ••

Upcoming opera performances

Amici Opera Company will present Mascagni’s L’Amico Fritz on Saturday, Feb. 3, at 4 p.m., at United Methodist Church of the Redeemer, 1128 Cottman Ave.

Donizetti’s L’Elisir D’Amore will be performed on Saturday, Jan. 27, at 4 p.m., at United Methodist Church of the Redeemer.

Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra is on the schedule for Saturday, Jan. 28, at 2:30 p.m. at Dock Woods, 275 Dock Drive, Lansdale.

For more information, call 215-224-0257 or visit the Amici Opera Company page on Facebook. ••

Feb. Zoom book club meeting

The Book Club of Congregations of Shaare Shamayim will be holding a Zoom session on Monday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m.

The February book is the historical mystery The Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen.

For further information or to register, call Lynn Ratmansky at 215-677-1600. ••

Local author’s novel releases

Tirgearr Publishing released Mayfair author Becky Flade’s latest novel, Fade into the Night. It is the fifth book in Flade’s award-winning series of romantic thrillers set in Philadelphia. It is available at all major digital retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iBooks/iTunes. Flade, a Frankford High School graduate, has been writing since kindergarten, when her Brown Elementary School teacher, Miss Daniels, helped with her first book detailing her and her best friend’s first solo trip to the market for milk. ••