Maybe the only thing better than ice cream on a steamy day in August is free ice cream.
If you’re interested—and who wouldn’t be—join Friends of the Wissahickon Wednesday, August 10, from 3 to 5 p.m. at FOW’s 15th Annual Ice Cream Social, on the grounds of partner organization Woodmere Art Museum, 9201 Germantown Avenue, with ice cream and dairy-free sorbet served up by the folks at Bredenbeck’s. While you’re there, you can meet and greet FOW staff and volunteers, the kids can take part in nature-oriented activities, and everyone can explore the grounds and museum.
This long, tasty tradition began when FOW had its offices at 8708 Germantown Avenue, the Chestnut Hill Conservancy, then the Chestnut Hill Historical Society.
“We rented office space from them for many years, and with that came a great location with the front lawn, and we would just do the ice cream social there,” says Ruffian Tittmann, executive director of Friends of the Wissahickon. “In 2016, we moved our office headquarters out of the Conservancy building because our staff had grown, and relocated up to 40 West Evergreen Avenue. We no longer have a front lawn or a public space up on the avenue to welcome people, and so we’ve looked for various partners over the years. Woodmere has become a great friend to Friends of the Wissahickon through the years, and when we’ve needed a space or a location, we reach out, and if they are able to accommodate us, they do.”
Of course, there’s more to this old-fashioned tradition than frozen treats. Friends of the Wissahickon hope that all that ice cream and sorbet will serve as a kind of entree to help attendees develop a familiarity with FOW and its programming and more of an awareness of the Wissahickon Valley Park and the need for its care and safe keeping.
The idea for the ice cream social came from two former board members, Cindy Hecksher, and her daughter, Liz Pearson. Since then, it has grown and developed into quite a draw.
Kids especially like it because—aside from the ice cream—there is plenty for them to do to raise their awareness of the natural environment, with help from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and educators from the Wissahickon Environmental Center.
“Kids love our watershed model,” says Tittmann. “You can put all the trees and trucks and everything out. Then you can put the ‘pollutants’ on the road and spray it down with water and you see how everything runs downhill and into our waterway, and really understand the impact of both the pollutants and trash.”
Of course, Woodmere itself is a treasure. “The great thing about being at Woodmere is they have a whole outside experience, whether it’s their large-scale sculpture or the grounds behind the museum,” says Tittmann. “So, there’s lots to do and see. Get out there, meet your neighbors, talk about the watershed, look at great art, eat ice cream. It’s a winner.”