“All the world’s a stage,” Shakespeare wrote over 400 years ago. But chances are he never saw anything quite as colorful and exuberant as the Grand Opening Celebration for Weavers Way Ambler. Shakespeare penned those words for “As You Like It” — and last Saturday a cavalcade of kids and their families certainly did! In fact, you could say “kids of all ages” were festooned for the long-awaited occasion (which happily coincided with Ambler's Halloween Parade).
The air was filled with laughter, and the creative, colorful images of those in costume, from infants to grandparents, swirled like chips in a kaleidoscope, filling the exciting new store, the open area outside and the parking lot next door generously dedicated to the fun by Tony Serrao State Farm. They defied imagination, including an awesome array of superheroes of all descriptions, both male and female, ready to fight off evil in glowing capes, helmets, gloves and footgear; a menagerie of creatures, real and imagined, from unicorns and elephants to dinosaurs; ballerinas and princesses so passionate about their outfits, many were reluctant to remove their crowns even to go on the wildly popular moon bounce.
When I first arrived and went into the store, I was enthusiastically greeted by a smiling witch — a delightful contradiction in terms that reflected the warm, welcoming Weavers Way spirit of community! Huck, 1, and Max, 3, the very first children I met, were eating bagels while being dressed up by their parents Tom and Lee Russo.
As soon as I ventured outside, there were surprises everywhere I looked! An adorable 12-month old cow, Lucius, herded in his carriage by his big brother, Seamus, and mom Kate Altman; 4-month old Dalmatian Enzo and his fearless firefighter princess sister, Aria, whose parents, Jenna and Sean McElhone, were visiting from Pittsburgh, and thrilled at Weavers Way opening where they’d grown up.
And I was relieved to shake the hands of super strong protectors of the universe — Captain America a/k/a Luthando, 4, and his brother, Spiderman, a/k/a Thabani, 7. whose mom, Noxolo Heleni, was bursting with pride as she introduced them to me.
With so many costumed crusaders on hand, it was a good thing there were plenty of activities to keep them busy while they waited their turn to fight evil: The moon bounce, of course; the Make Your Own Treat Bag table; Spin the Wheel for fun prizes, including Weavers Way yo-yos; face-painting, even a balloon guy, Greg Laut, whose nimble fingers worked magic, creating a vibrant rainbow of rubbery creatures that brought instant smiles and giggles!
The music tent vibrated with performances that engaged old, young and younger, from Miss Michelle, Art Miron and Jump Jive and Jam, which tickled with interactive rhythms and lyrics including a Halloween-inspired version of “The Wheels on the Bus.”
Other star attractions included hayrides around the neighborhood and visits from the Wissahickon and Fort Washington fire companies. (Many a princess was seen to have traded her tiara for a firefighter’s helmet.)
I met Cat Girl Norah, 4, and her brother, Superhero Noah MacKenzie, whose dad was a standout himself, “riding” a huge ostrich. I also spied Greek goddess Athena, in flowing robes, and her brother, the Sleeping Phantom, a/k/a Rosa and Thomas Warshaw, 7 and 10 respectively.
The night before, for the official ribbon-cutting event, Athena had plied her side gig, sampling Butterbeer. And, indeed, the festivities were not confined to a sunny Saturday, nor could rain dampen the fun on Sunday, the last day of the Grand Opening, with activities — and a crowd — transported inside: The store was filled with live music from the café, where ensembles set up to perform through the afternoon; sampling, raffles and giveaways continued apace; and hot dogs and brats (grilled outdoors, under the tent, by the intrepid Rick from Dietz & Watson) were handed out.
The wonders of Weavers Way Ambler and the weekend party to mark its official opening were, as the kids might declare, “awesome.” Ample — or should I say “Ambler” — cause for celebration for all ages.
Diana Finegold is a Weavers Way Working Member.