City blocks Hunting Park carnival

Ronnie Misihowsky and other workers for the S & S Amusements tear down the carnival's merry-go-round after city officials said they couldn't set up.
Ronnie Misihowsky and other workers for the S & S Amusements tear down the carnival's merry-go-round after city officials said they couldn't set up. (CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer)
Posted: April 11, 2013

A traveling carnival operation that was supposed to open Thursday to raise money for NAACP scholarships is still looking for a venue, after losing a bid to set up on city land in Hunting Park.

"We don't allow carnivals," said Michael DiBerardinis, the deputy mayor in charge of parks and recreation. "Historically they've presented problems to us - there was a homicide attached to one at Russo Playground in the early 2000s . . .. No matter how well they're run, there's a lot of wear and tear and usually damage to the facilities, with all this heavy equipment and the crowds. . . . So we just don't permit them."

DiBerardinis said he delivered that message Monday to Sharif Street, son of former mayor John F. Street, who was representing the NAACP in an effort to set up the carnival on Fairmount Park property just off Hunting Park Avenue.

The organization apparently made plans for the carnival, to raise money for college scholarships, without obtaining city permits for the event.

Street did not return a call from The Inquirer, and the head of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, J. Whyatt Mondesire, declined to answer any questions.

DiBerardinis said he first heard of the organization's request to use park land last Friday night, reviewed it with staff Monday morning, and immediately informed Street of the decision.

In spite of the denial, about 20 trucks and half a dozen carnival rides drove onto the park property Monday night and stayed most of the day Tuesday, while waiting for designation of an alternate site.

"We're all for filling out the paperwork," said Butch Roberts, who identified himself as a concession manager for S & S Amusements PA, the carnival operator.

Some of the carnival vehicles were moved Tuesday afternoon to a vacant property in the Logan neighborhood, bounded by Roosevelt Blvd., Louden, 11th, and Marshall streets.

That area is owned by the city Redevelopment Authority but the RDA has already decided it is unfit for carnival operations because of the sinking land problem in the Logan area.

"They are not permitted there, either," said Mark McDonald, a spokesman for the Nutter administration. "There's a lot of private land in the city that could accommodate these little city carnivals. But you have to get the right permitting and they just never did."

Brian Abernathy, the Redevelopment Authority's acting executive director, said it had offered the NAACP a North Philadelphia property at 20th and Jefferson Streets for carnival operations but hadn't received a response.


Contact Bob Warner at 215-854-5885 or warnerb@phillynews.com.

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