The field, maintained by the Pomona Cherokee Civic Council, will once again host a summer reading camp, a Yes! And… summer production, and other neighborhood activities this season.

Yes! And…’s Summer Sort of Thing theater production at Holman Field (Photo: Heather McBride)

Pocket parks and little third spaces exist throughout many different neighborhoods in Philadelphia, and Germantown has a few that neighbors maintain and engage with in many different ways. 

Holman Field is one example of an active public space, a green park used by neighbors and neighboring institutions for summer enrichment, performances, sports, and gardening. 

Holman Field, a public community park, is owned by the City of Philadelphia in their Department of Public Property and is located on Pomona and Cherokee Streets. It backs up against the Germantown Mennonite Church on Washington Lane and the back of the Johnson House on Germantown Avenue. It’s been historically stewarded and maintained by nearby neighbors for decades, with much of the stewardship held and directed by neighborhood organization Pomona Cherokee Civic Council (PCCC). 

PCCC secretary Sabra Townsend says neighbors have maintained Holman Field for years. As part of the space’s physical upkeep, the PCCC raises funds to supplement maintaining the space and has an all volunteer lawn crew, managed clean-ups and the installation of garden beds.

“Folks have been known to come out and play a little quick touch football, soccer, [fly] kites because there’s no wiring over the field. It’s one of the few full-block open spaces,” said Townsend. 

She continued: “If you’re familiar with that area of Germantown, there’s really not a nearby rec center without having to cross Germantown Avenue. So, for the little ones, it’s nice to have it be in the neighborhood. It’s walkable.”

Working in Holman Field for Love Your Park Day 2024. L-R: Stephanie Vogel, Donna Streets, Brandon Hubbard. (Photo: Sabra Townsend)

The large green space is also used by the Johnson House and by Yes! And…Collaborative Arts, a youth-centered non-profit organization that creates performing arts experiences and works out of Germantown Mennonite Church

Roberta Frempong, the Literacy and Schools Coordinator for Mt. Airy CDC, coordinates a summer reading camp at Holman Field with the Johnson House, PCCC, and neighbors. Frempong said the partnership started organically when nearby neighbors wanted to utilize the field and keep it a safe space while also serving the surrounding community. From this yearning, an idea for a reading camp was born. 

“It started off being from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., and they would come there for a half day, do story time, give them lunch, and then do some playtime and let them go. And that went on for five years. And then I came in and transitioned it with the help of a grant from William Penn to a full day, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. program,” said Frempong. 

The summer camp is part of Mt. Airy CDC’s Literacy Rich Neighborhood Initiative, which also includes summer reading activities in recreation centers throughout the Northwest Philly area.

Townsend says there’s a tradition of neighbors putting up tents for summer camp and then leaving them up for a celebration with students and neighbors for about a week after the camp. They’ve given away back-to-school supplies before, and sometimes, it even coincides with family gatherings for folks who live on neighboring blocks.

Another tradition that has become yearly is Yes! And’s summer production in Holman Field. It’s called A Summer Sort of Thing, which is the culmination of writing, acting, choreography, and set design from Yes! And’s summer theater camps. 

Cameron Bridgers, the program director for Yes! And and the camp director for A Summer Sort of Thing, says the Holman Field is a great extension of outside space for Yes! And’s summer camp experiences. 

Bridgers says the summer production is the camp’s way of sharing with the community the stories they’ve not only helped to create but have helped to evolve. This year’s “Down with the Crown” is an original play by Yes! And, involving a common theme for the organization–children taking charge of their own futures.

Bridgers elaborated a bit more: “But also, it’s like, how do we create a theater in the outdoors? We often will bring out stage platforms for the kids to stand on so it still feels like a stage to them. But we really do try to incorporate what’s out there in the field. I mean, we’ve used the trees as set pieces and really incorporated it into the staging of the show.”

“A couple years back, we did a show called Swing Set Go, and we actually had a tree swing that the kids were very excited about. And we even let some of the community members, some of the kids in the community, come and take a ride on the swing before we took it down,” Bridgers continued. 

The summer show has a suggested donation of five dollars and is open to the public. Yes! And and the PCCC recommends bringing blankets or folding chairs and maybe even dinner and drinks to share and join the fun. Yes! And…’s Summer Sort of Thing presents “Down with the Crown”  on July 24, 25 & 26, 2024, at 6:00 p.m.

To learn more about the summer reading camp, contact the Literacy Rich Initiative Northwest team at Mt. Airy CDC and learn more about their registration process. Many of their campers have been referred to the program from Lingelbach School and previous camps. The camp runs from July 5 to August 8, 2024.