Editor’s note: This is one of five articles highlighting coverage from our hyper-local papers.
As the year comes to a close, the staff of the Lower Bucks Times wanted to take a look back at our coverage in your communities over the past year. While some events had county-wide or even global implications, we thought it best to reflect on the stories unique to your neighborhoods, and the people who live there.
This is the 2016 Year in Review:
Budweiser Clydesdales visit Bristol
Thousands of people packed the streets of Bristol Borough on Labor Day to see the Budweiser Clydesdales make their rounds through the town.
Parked cars filled the lots behind Mill Street, the grass around the municipal building on old Route 13, and any other available spot leading into town. Pockets of people sat outside their homes along the route and around places like St. Ann’s Church, while many set up on Mill Street.
The sidewalks and parts of the street there were jam-packed with people well before the hitch made its way down the main drag. Many stayed for more than an hour as the horses came to rest near the Mill Street Wharf, taking photos with the team.
In an announcement after the event, Raising the Bar President Bill Pezza thanked Gretz Beer, and members of Bristol Borough council, police and fire departments, the mayor, volunteers and others who all worked on making the event successful.
“No words needed to describe how awesome this day was for Bristol Borough with the best people and the best visitors one could hope for,” he wrote. “So proud of our town.”
Bristol Riverside Theatre celebrates its 30th anniversary
Three decades ago, founding director Susan Atkinson opened the Bristol Riverside Theatre. Since then, it’s become an iconic part of town and an award-winning regional theater with nearly 150 productions to its name, including 23 new works that debuted on its stage.
Atkinson’s original vision for the theater was to mount only new plays, based on her time as a freelance director in New York City developing new works,
But she soon discovered a regional theater couldn’t sustain solely on unknown pieces, and adjusted the programming accordingly.
“I was trying to learn everything I could, as quickly as I could — basically before people realized I didn’t know what I was doing,” she laughed. “But that’s very often the way it happens in theater, because if you knew what you were getting into, you would never do it.”
The theater’s 30th season kicked off with “A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline,” presented as a complement to last year’s audience favorite “Always … Patsy Cline.” It continues this month with “Driving Miss Daisy.”
The Grundy Tower is demolished
Perhaps best recognized by its iconic smokestack, visible for miles and identifiable by the word “Grundy” emblazoned down one side, the Grundy Mills Powerhouse was a landmark to many.
But others said the building, which had been out of use and deteriorating for decades, is an eyesore at best and a safety hazard at worst. This year, it finally came down.
According to Fred Baumgarten, also the owner of the adjacent Grundy Commons, the building had deteriorated to the point where it was structurally unsound. He said he’d already invested his own money to reinforce the smokestack before owning it, as it posed a hazard near his own property.
Baumgarten held a small demolition commencement ceremony in February at the century-old building.
“Bristol has a glorious past, which inspires us to build the future,” he said to the few dozen people there that snowy morning. “I believe we can respect the past with our dreams for the future.”
Silver Lake Nature Center gets new director for golden anniversary
This summer, and just in time for Silver Lake Nature Center’s 50th anniversary, Jerry
Kozlansky became the new director-naturalist for the 253-acre center.
He follows Robert Mercer, who was the director for 40 years.
Kozlansky has served as an administrator and teacher in various nature centers and related organization across the country for the past 25 years. He’s been visiting for about a decade, ever since he moved to Bucks County from Connecticut to take a job with the New Jersey Audubon Society.
He discovered the center while renting a home in the Mill Creek section of Levittown while working with the New Jersey Audubon society.
Kozlansky booked his daughter’s fourth birthday party there after just one visit. Since settling in Morrisville, he’s been exploring the grounds and volunteering there ever since.
“I’ve been coming here for 10 years. I love the place,” said Kozlansky. “I’ve been traveling around and teaching all my life and this was an opportunity to run a whole center.”
Community gardens bloom in Bristol
Two community gardens in Bristol truly took root this year.
At Bristol Junior-Senior High, the school’s garden club moved its work to the campus courtyard. Now, the area is filled with garden boxes, herb walls, potted plants, a makeshift greenhouse and a tomato tunnel.
The club is also a learning experience for its faculty advisers, who have also secured grants, secured donations and built equipment.
“I never grew a plant in my life before four years ago,” said social studies teacher Doug Braun. “This has really taken on a mind of its own.”
Nearby, the Adams Hollow Community Garden doubled in size during its second year.
The garden began as members of the Garden Club of Bristol Borough became more interested in growing fruits and vegetables. Previously, it was more about beautifying the town with flower beds and other plants.
“If there’s an empty space in a community, someone should be hopping on it. These
should be popping up everywhere,” said Paul Stillwagon, one of the club members who started the garden. “It’s a no-brainer.”
Pokémon invades the Bristol Wharf
Over the summer, hundreds of people gathered at the Wharf on any given day, thanks to the explosive popularity of the Pokémon Go mobile application.
Based on a Game Boy game and subsequent animated TV shows and collectible cards, players using the app see creatures appear on their phones while walking around.
The Wharf was designated as a “Pokéstop,” where players could pick up supplies and improve their game.
Stops like these became temporary communities for players.
“Everyone is just friendly and nice,” said Bensalem resident Ken Robbins. “People just come up and talk to you. You can approach somebody and just talk to them.”