Posted On: December 17th, 2018
All too often the Holiday Season conjures up images of commercial chaos and stress. Flashes of long store lines, the quest for the hottest gifts and an avalanche of advertisements can leave us all longing for a time when the holidays were much simpler.
The first Phestivus was held because a group of neighbors wanted to create something that stood apart from the hustle and bustle and celebrate the true spirit of the season. The goal was to hold a community event that appealed to people of all backgrounds and beliefs, hence the name Phestivus which is a local Philly twist to a celebration that is for the “rest of us”, as well as all of us.
Launched at the start of the Great Recession in 2008, The Friends of Moyamensing Point decided to host Phestivus as a way to gather donations for Toys for Tots which was struggling at the time to meet the large demand for donations. Eleven years later the toy-giving at Phestivus is still going strong with more and more toys collected each year. And who better to oversee the collection of toys than Santa himself who, thanks to the firefighters of Engine 22, arrives each year to the event on a bright red fire engine.
One of the things that makes Phestivus so special is the way it brings the community together. It wouldn’t be possible without the support of the firefighters, Philadelphia Java who every year donates hot cocoa and coffee and local restaurant Lucky’s Last Chance which collects donations in the weeks leading up to the event. There is even a local choir who entertains the crowd with carols. Plus, the event is executed by an all-volunteer staff who donates their time to coordinate the details, hang flyers, decorate the Point and make a wide array of delicious holiday treats.
Held now for over a decade, Phestivus has become a neighborhood tradition that shows us that the true magic of the holidays is not about the latest gifts. It is about coming together to share the joy in giving to others. It doesn’t require fancy commercial sponsors or slick advertisements. It just requires a belief that the holidays mean more.
At the end of each Phestivus, Santa and his helpers load up the boxes of toy donations onto the truck. Santa then leans out the window as the truck begins to roll down the street and waves goodbye as he belts out a few final ho-ho-hos. The crowd, consisting of neighbors both young and old wave back and for this one night, the true spirit of the season is undoubtedly felt by all.