WEDNESDAY, MAY 18, 2022
BUCKS COUNTY’S AWARD-WINNING COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER
IN THE TIMES Welcome aboard
Lower Southampton’s Stephen Linden appointed to Neshaminy school board’s Region 1 seat.
Playhouse launches 83rd season with ‘American Jade,’ starring Emmywinning Jodi Long.
Things to do
Upcoming events in Bucks County include a golf outing, visit by the Clydesdales and more.
Bensalem Business Directory rebrands with new name ➤Founder Pondeli Hajioannou
believes the Business Friendly Organization better reflects what the group is all about
By Samantha Bambino The Times
When Pondeli Hajioannou launched the Bensalem Business Directory in 2015, he had one mission in mind - to form a group of businesses, nonprofits and government institutions that work to support one another, all without a board of directors or titles. However, Hajioannou found that he kept having to explain this mission. Given its name, many wrongly assumed the group to be a physical directory, and regularly asked where they could pick up a copy. In an effort to have the group’s name better reflect what it’s all about, Hajioannou recently announced a rebrand to the Business Friendly Organization. Not only does the new title aim to clarify the organization’s purpose, it also makes it more welcoming to potential members from outside of the Bensalem area. Since its inception, over 180 members have joined, spanning Bucks County, Philadelphia and New Jersey. “People think it’s a physical directory. It’s not. It’s a bunch of friendly people getting together. The Lions, the Rotary, the Lower Bucks Chamber, they’re all members
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A clear message: Pondeli Hajioannou recently rebranded the Bensalem Business Directory to Business Friendly Organization to better reflect its mission. of my group. All the schools are members, churches. I welcome everybody to join and try to work with as many people as I can,” said Hajioannou. “But it’s not about how many members you have. It’s about the
quality of people. It’s a family, even if you’re a dysfunctional family. As long as they get along, have each other’s backs, that’s great.” Typically, the now-Business Friendly Organization would gather on a monthly basis for meetings, presentations and other events. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Hajioannou had to think of new ways for everyone to stay connected, especially small business owners whose livelihoods were devastated due to statewide closures. The mission of the group - to help each other - was in full force during this time. Zoom meetings were hosted every Friday morning, with special guests offering to speak about the COVID-19 situation. This included Bensalem Township Mayor Joe DiGirolamo, who Hajioannou said learned how to navigate the video conference platform for the occasion, and Bucks County Sheriff Fred Harran, who was the township’s Director of Public Safety at the time. Other guests were Dr. Minh Bui, of People’s Choice Urgent Care, who shared vital information regarding masking and other safety measures, and a small business lender, who was able to help out several members. “I had business owners from other communities coming on to hear what was going on,” said Hajioannou. “People in the group would help others in the group. It just became such a nice way to get by. During
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The History of Burlington Island
Due to popular demand, the Bristol Cultural and Historical Foundation Inc. is hosting a repeat of the March 27 presentation “The History of Burlington Island” on Sunday, May 22, at 2 p.m. at its headquarters, 321 Cedar St. in Bristol Borough. Light refreshments will be served at the conclusion of the program. Advance reservations required at 215-788-9408. COVID-19 vaccinations and masks are requested. A donation of $4/adult at the door is
(across from Neshaminy Mall)
requested; no charge for students. ••
‘Glow Up’ empowerment event for girls
Maria Grande LLC is hosting a ‘Glow Up’ girls’ empowerment event on Thursday, June 9 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Beat Street, 77 Buck Road, Huntingdon Valley, for girls ages 11-17. Speakers include 19-year-old influencer Jaycee Park. There will be live music, DJ, prizes. The goal of the event is to influence girls to own their power. Tickets are available on EventBrite or at mariagrandellc. com. ••
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In action: The Business Friendly Organization’s recent meeting included a demonstration by the Bensalem Township Police Department’s K-9 unit.
FRIENDLY Continued from Page 1 COVID, we did so much. We kept on pushing forward and trying to help each other. The problem I was still having, people didn’t understand who we are or what we do.” The official rebrand was announced on The Mayor’s Show, hosted by DiGirolamo, who Hajioannou said has become a fatherly mentor figure over the years. In fact, he said it was DiGirolamo who urged him to unite businesses in the first place. As the pandemic settles down once again, the Business Friendly Organization is starting to ramp up its monthly meetings. The most recent took place on May 5, at Bensalem’s state-of-the-art public safety training center. Bill McVey, who succeeds Harran as Director of Public Safety, was the guest speaker and host. Officers Bob Schwarting and Sean Hayden showed off the police department’s K-9 unit, featuring Bowie, who competed with Schwarting on the A&E series America’s Top Dog in 2020. Upcoming guest speakers include May 18, 2022
Bensalem Rescue Squad executive director Tom Topley on July 14, at 6:30 p.m. at Bensalem Rescue Squad; Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo on Aug. 11, at 6:30 p.m. at Bensalem Country Club; District Attorney Matt Weintraub on Sept. 8, at 6:30 p.m. at the country club; Sheriff Harran on Oct. 13, at 6:30 p.m. at the country club; and Ron Davis on Nov. 11, at 8 a.m. at Parx East. There’s also an annual picnic on June 11, from noon to 3 p.m. at Neshaminy State Park ($10 per person, children 12 and under are free); and the annual holiday dinner on Dec. 9 at the country club. Those interested in becoming a member can visit bensalembusinessdirectory.com, which is in the process of being revamped. “No one should feel they are alone and cannot make it. It is wrong to feel that you are judged or you will not be allowed to try because you are not worthy. My group charges nothing to join and no one is told they cannot join because of skin or gender or anything else,” said Hajioannou. “All you have to be is a good person who wants to treat people the way you are treated, and that’s it.” ••
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Neshaminy appoints Stephen Linden to school board By Samantha Bambino The Times
During a special meeting on May 10, Stephen Linden was sworn in as Neshaminy’s new school board director. He fills the Region 1 seat of Stephen Pirritano, who resigned after serving since October 2013. Linden was the only candidate and was unanimously approved by the board. “It is an honor to stand here tonight, especially recognizing that whoever fills the vacant seat is not elected, they’re selected,” he said. Linden is a 35-year resident of Lower Southampton. He has five children (three graduated from Neshaminy), nine grandchildren and two greatgrandchildren. He owned and operated a local title insurance agency for 30 years until 2016, when he merged his business with another and continued on
Strolling for Service Dogs raises $18,000+
The first Strolling for Service Dogs raised over $18,000 for the nonprofit Alpha Bravo Canine, which trains and donates service puppies to military veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injuries and other disabilities. Leading the charge for the fundraiser was Pennsbury student Nicky Christopher, 14, who is widely known in the community as the Birthday Lawn Bandit. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he began “raiding” neighbors’ lawns by decorating them for birthdays, graduations and other special occasions. A portion of proceeds from the raids benefited Alpha Bravo Canine, but Nicky wanted to do more. A fundraiser was held in 2021 in the Lower Makefield pool parking lot in Yardley, but this year’s event - held at the Garden of Reflection 9/11 Memorial, was the largest to date. “It was a wonderful, safe event and the community loved it,” said Nicky’s mom Sara Christopher. “Alpha Bravo Canine is adding more training pups into the program, which means we will continue to find ways to support them and our Lower Makefield Township veterans.” The event for 2023 is already confirmed for April 15. More details will be announced in the coming months. 6
in a consulting capacity. This experience, he said, will be an asset to the district. He reflected on how he maintained fiduciary responsibility for approximately $10 million per month for three decades. He also served on the board of a condominium association at the beach for a number of years. However, he stressed his main reason for getting involved: “Our children are by far our most valuable asset.” Additionally, as the grandfather of a special needs child, he wants to ensure that vulnerable populations in the district are represented. After being sworn in, Linden praised his predecessor Pirritano and described trying to fill his shoes as a “fool’s errand.” “I was constantly surprised at what I saw from Steve,” said Linden. “Quite a guy, quite a guy.” •• To date, over $25,000 has been raised for Alpha Bravo Canine thanks to these fundraisers. “If there is a positive from experiencing this awful COVID pandemic, it’s that a 14-year-old autistic teenager and a few of his friends have proven with love, dedication and generous support from our community, plus a little imagination, anything is possible,” said Sara. ••
Dad’s Hat Rye opens new tasting room
Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye cofounders Herman Mihalich and John Cooper opened a tasting room at 131 Mill Street in Bristol, about a mile from Dad’s Hat distillery, on May 12. Dad’s Hat’s award-winning Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey is featured, as well as classic and creative cocktails, craft beers, wine, ciders and spirits from producers across the entire state of PA. Bottles of Dad’s Hat are available to purchase, and flights of unique whiskeys from other PA distilleries are also sold. “Our goal is to create the absolute highest quality cocktails available anywhere in the Delaware Valley using high quality ingredients and featuring our own whiskey expressions,” said Mihalich. “There are more and more reasons to come to Bristol than ever, with the Bristol Riverside Theatre, events at the
SOURCE: NESHAMINY SCHOOL DISTRICT YOUTUBE Fresh face: Stephen Linden has been appointed to the Neshaminy school board. waterfront park and a bunch of great restaurants to sample, all in walking distance of each other. We are extremely proud to be part of the renaissance in the borough.” Leading the team at Mill Street Tasting Room is Len Boris, a recent addition to the Dad’s Hat team who brings with him 14 years of hospitality experience, the last eight years as beverage director for Fearless Restaurants. “This is an exciting time to be joining the team at Dad’s Hat,” he said. “Our tasting room will be a welcoming place for whiskey lovers and newcomers to experience fun, enticing cocktails.” Visit DadsHatRye.com for more information. ••
Tomlinson endorses Barletta
Sen. Tommy Tomlinson is endorsing former mayor and congressman Lou Barletta, Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania. Barletta previously received the endorsement of Bensalem Township Mayor Joe DiGirolamo, Senate Majority Whip John Gordner and Sen. Lisa Baker. “Lou Barletta has the opportunity to be a transformational governor for Pennsylvania and I’m proud to endorse him,” said Tomlinson. “Lou is a man of impeccable character who has demonstrated that he is not afraid to fight for the people he was elected to represent. I’m proud to join my other Senate colleagues in endorsing Lou Barletta to be Pennsylvania’s next governor.”
“Sen. Tommy Tomlinson is a friend and I’m honored to have his endorsement,” said Barletta. “Pennsylvania is at a crossroads. We need someone who has the courage to stand up and fight for our values and defeat Josh Shapiro in November. I am proven, road-tested and ready. Together, with the support of Sen. Tomlinson and countless other Pennsylvania conservatives, we will win this primary and defeat Josh Shapiro in November.” ••
Pennsbury educator is Teacher of the Year finalist
The Pennsylvania Department of Education recently announced the names of 12 educators nominated to be the 2023 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year, and Pennsbury School District’s Kristin J. Slota, a teacher at Afton Elementary, has made the list. Each year, the Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year Program recognizes excellence in teaching by honoring K-12 teachers in public education who have made outstanding academic contributions to Pennsylvania’s school-aged children. The 12 finalists are selected from applicants and recognized in Harrisburg each fall. Pennsylvania’s Teacher of the Year will be announced at a state awards ceremony in Harrisburg in the winter and represents Pennsylvania at the National Teacher of the Year ceremony at the White House. •• May 18, 2022
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Playhouse launches 83rd season with ‘American Jade’ ➤The one-woman show is written by and stars Jodi Long, Emmy-winning actress from Netflix’s ‘Dash and Lily’
By Samantha Bambino The Times
The forthcoming 83rd mainstage season of the Bucks County Playhouse is an important one. Not only does it mark the theater’s 10th anniversary since its multi-million dollar refurbishment and reorganization in 2012, it’s also the first complete season to hit the historic stage since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are proud to announce a 2022 season that celebrates the Playhouse’s resurgence and the 10th anniversary of reopening with the kind of shows that we do best,” said producing director Alexander Fraser. “We are particularly excited to do a full season of significant shows, each of which tells the story of individuals who may be labeled as outsiders, but ultimately demonstrate their powers to triumph and make a difference.” Kickstarting this momentous season on May 20 is American Jade, written by and starring Jodi Long, the first actor of Asian descent to win a competitive acting Emmy in 2021 for her role in Netflix’s Dash and Lily. Long has appeared on Broadway numerous times over the years in shows such as the 2002 revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song, and can also be seen in Marvel’s Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, among other projects. In a recent interview with The Times, Long shared that American Jade is approximately 20 years in the making. With live musical accompaniment by Yukio Tsuji, Long tells the audience a collection of stories about her family, who before their passing had deep roots in show business. Her Vaudevillian parents, who appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in the ‘50s, inspired her career in entertainment as they broke barriers as Asian American performers. In fact, Long’s father starred in the original Broadway production of Flower Drum Song 40 years prior to his daughter’s casting. Staying true to her roots, American Jade emcompasses humor, song and dance, while also touching on the hardships of the immigrant experience in the U.S. throughout the past century. Long shares how her ancestors from China, Japan and across the globe left vital imprints on her. “I just felt that I needed to get down a bunch of stories from my family that I knew were unique to them. If I didn’t put them down, they would be lost forever. I started this before everybody passed away,” said Long. “I wanted to write something where maybe I could change the way 8
An exciting return: Bucks County Playhouse’s 83rd season, the first since the start of the pandemic, kicks off on May 20 with American Jade, written by and starring Jodi Long.
people thought about Asian Americans. My greatgrandmother was Scottish. I said, ‘Wouldn’t that be funny if a Scottish accent actually came out of my face?’ And my father’s from Australia, all his brothers and family speak with an Aussie accent. It was like meeting someone who’s Chinese and they speak with a southern accent.” Now that American Jade is complete, Long is honored to bring the one-woman show to the Playhouse. “When they decided to do this play, I was just so delighted. It was unexpected,” said Long, whose New York performance of the show in May 2021 was canceled. “Things happen for a reason.” According to executive producer Robyn Goodman, the feeling is mutual. “We are thrilled that our return to a full pro-
duction season at the Playhouse begins with a new play. Jodi’s story is universal and anyone who has a family will identify with her search for understanding through ancestry,” said Goodman. “Developing new work and hearing new stories is essential to creating a vibrant SOURCE: SUBMITTED theater. It is the Breaking boundaries: Jodi perfect way to Long, star of American Jade, launch the next was the first actor of Asian decade of performances at the descent to win a competitive acting Emmy in 2021 for her Playhouse.” role in Netflix’s Dash and Lily. Long’s goal with American Jade is for theater-goers of all backgrounds to see their own families’ highs and lows within her reflections. “The play works best when people walk away thinking about their own family and what they’ve gone through. That’s what I love to hear and see, how people deal with it, move on from it and embrace it…the good stuff, anyway,” said Long. “Yes, when I walk out on stage, everyone’s going to see an Asian woman. But if I’m really doing my job, in the end, they will just see a woman who just happens to be going through this set of circumstances who is just like them.” For Long, there’s something truly special about a collective experience. During the pandemic, she preferred to take live Zoom classes rather than watch a recording. She needed to know that “everybody’s sweating and struggling or having a wonderful moment at the same time.” Long can’t wait to bring this same feeling to Playhouse attendees. “If people can be laughing at the same time and then crying two minutes later, wow, you did your job,” she said. American Jade runs May 20-June 11. The official opening night performance is Saturday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $65 and are on sale now at buckscountyplayhouse.org, 215-862-2121 or the box office, 70 S. Main St. in New Hope. Season ticket packages are available. Special rates for groups of 10 or more. Following American Jade, the season includes Kinky Boots, June 24-July 30; Dames at Sea, Aug. 12-Sept. 11; and Evita, Sept. 23-Oct. 30. •• May 18, 2022
May 18, 2022
Source: Miracle League of Northampton Township Swinging for a cause: Proceeds from a May 20 golf outing benefit Miracle League of Northampton Township, which offers athletic programs for those with special needs.
Miracle League Golf Outing
tition with prizes and other family-friendly activities, such as food trucks, face painting, balloon animals, a bounce house and more. Any donations are welcome and appreciated. To register for the event, visit bit.ly/ NAAAPMay21Fundraiser. General admission is $25; first responders and kids are free. Cornhold competition is $40 per person, two people per team. Registration and networking is from noon to 12:30 p.m.; ceremony and speech is from 12:30 to 1 p.m.; event activities and networking are from 1 to 5 p.m. If you cannot attend the event but would like to donate, visit bit.ly/NAAAPFundraiserMay2022. Donations are 100 percent tax deductible. ••
NAAAP & Bucks County Heroes Scholarship Fundraiser
Northampton Township anniversary event
The Miracle League of Northampton Township, which offers recreational programs and facilities for individuals with special needs and their families, has rescheduled its 2nd annual Golf Outing from Monday, May 9, to Friday, May 20, at Northampton Valley Country Club, 299 Newtown-Richboro Road, Richboro. There’s an 11 a.m. shotgun start. Visit bit.ly/3Piq731 for registration and sponsorship information. Proceeds benefit the Miracle League, which is in the process of retrofitting the current Northampton Township Municipal Park playground to include accessible and customized equipment. ••
The National Association of Asian American Professionals Philadelphia is raising funds for the Bucks County Heroes Scholarship Fund on Saturday, May 21, from noon to 5 p.m. at Polanka Park, 3258 Knights Road, Bensalem. The goal of the event is to increase awareness of the BCHSF, which provides scholarships to the children of police officers, firefighters, rescue squads, correctional officers and emergency service personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join for a day of fun, including a cornhole compe10
Northampton Township announced Bike and Rodeo Safety Day on Sunday, May 22. This event is part of the township’s 300th anniversary celebration. The Wheelman, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the heritage of American cycling, is part of the program. Local members dressed in antique uniforms will offer demonstrations, educational insights and displays of old-time bikes. All ages invited. Visit thewheelmen.org for more information. ••
Clydesdales returning to Bristol Borough
It’s been four years since the Budweiser Clydesdales visited Bristol Borough. In 2016, the
draft horses of Scottish Breed were greeted by thousands who lined the parade route and waterfront. On May 22, the Clydesdales are returning. The caravan begins at Green Lane and Farragut Ave. in the borough at 1 p.m. It is scheduled to travel down Farragut until it merges with Pond St. It will continue on Pond to Mill St. and then follow Mill to the riverfront, where the horses will be on display until they board their transport vehicles for departure. The event is facilitated by Penn Beer distributors and the borough civic group Raising the Bar. “We’re thrilled to have been selected again for this amazing event,” said Bill Pezza, president of Raising the Bar. “The route and riverfront venue are perfect, and the previous event went smoothly. We’re grateful to Joe Schellinger of Penn Beer for advocating for the borough visit and borough officials for their cooperation.” Raising the Bar is sponsoring a lottery to select 10 residents to march alongside the horses to serve as a security/honor guard. Those interested may register for the drawing at Bristol Antique Market, 329 Mill St. The eight-horse hitch made famous in Budweiser/Anheuser-Buch beer commercials includes a restored turn-of-the-century beer wagon and a Dalmatian that traditionally stood watch over the horses and beer cases as deliveries were made. ••
African American Museum community brunch
The African American Museum of Bucks County is hosting its membership drive and appreciation reception on Saturday, June 4, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Langhorne, Gloria Lockett Dining Hall, 215 E. Richardson Ave. in Langhorne. The community will be updated on the progress of the museum’s first-ever brick and mortar permanent home at the historic Boone Farm on Route 413 in Langhorne. The building is currently being renovated by Bucks County and will be turned over to the museum to occupy upon completion. AAMBC will then furnish, outfit and operate from this location. The museum will host six exhibition halls. A library, educational video display hall featuring videos produced by AAMBC, and a historic timeline exhibition hall are planned for the museum’s first floor. An exhibition hall featuring the achievements of the African American community, an activity classroom and a rotating exhibit hall are planned for the second floor. Outside the museum, there will be picnic benches and tables for visitors to enjoy the landscape and class trips to eat their snacks or lunches. AAMBC will have naming opportunities available for each of the six exhibition halls. Additionally, sponsorships of a picnic bench or table will be available. These sponsorship opportunities will become available after Bucks County finishes the renovation of the new home. Contact museum president/executive director Linda Salley at aambcmuseum@gmail. com or 215-752-1909 for details. •• May 18, 2022
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