Students Respond to VT Tragedy

We were in elementary school when the Oklahoma City bombing took place, in middle school when the Columbine massacre occurred, and in high school on 9/11. Last week, college students faced a new tragedy, as 32 of our peers were murdered at Virginia Tech.

Through past disasters, a network of parents and teachers have been in place to walk us through grieving. Now, with the freedom of college, we are on our own to digest this heartbreak.

Local students have struggled with finding a proper way to respond.

“My initial response when I heard about the shootings, honestly, was like, ‘Oh, no, not again.’” said St. Joseph’s sophomore Kristin Johnson. “I feel terrible about what had happened, but I cannot empathize…because it did not happen to my school. I do not feel any different last week than I do today. People may think that is horrible but…I have not experienced [such tragedy] firsthand.”

On the opposite spectrum, Temple junior Brittany Sturges said, “Just because it didn’t happen relatively near us, doesn’t mean we can just acknowledge it briefly, then let it go.”

The way people react to tragedies like Virginia Tech can define a generation.

“The way in which our nation responds during tragedy really speaks to our character as young people,” said Juan Galeano, Student Government President Elect of Temple. “We as a university, and as a nation, came together and demonstrated our solidarity for one another in a time of distress, even while being several states away.”

Students weren’t left completely alone in our grief. Most local schools responded by posting a note of condolence on their websites and sending an e-mail from the President reassuring students of the safety of our campuses.

The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) quickly put together a whole webpage devoted to memorial activities, ranging from prayer services to information sessions with the school’s Counseling and Psychological Services.

Drexel University immediately sent out an e-mail detailing campus safety guidelines.

At most schools, counseling services were readily offered for those struggling with grief and shock.

At La Salle and St. Joseph’s, prayer services for the victims’ families were offered and memorials incorporated into masses.

Candlelight vigils were put together by Drexel University and UPenn administration and students, but the only organized memorial event at Temple was a vigil put together by the Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity.

“I haven’t heard anything about memorial activities being held on campus,” said Temple senior Josh DeNutte. “I’m sure there were probably some sort of event held, but Temple is terrible when it comes to communicating events to students.”

These kinds of communication complications raise new questions about campus safety among local students.

“I don’t think [any school] is equipped, or able to be equipped, for this type of tragedy,” said Arcadia University junior Donna Gambale. “The only thing I can think of is to possibly set up some type of alert system or warning system for the campus.”

There are no easy solutions to this problem and students understand that campus safety will always be a problematic issue.

“I feel that campuses across the country, including Drexel, will be responding to this situation for a long time,” said Drexel student Michelle Freeman. “I think that the effects of this tragedy will change the structure of campus security as we continue to deal with the aftermath of this situation.”

With institutional entities, like campus security, still figuring out how to respond to the Virginia Tech tragedy, students have also looked for support outside of our schools. Many of us have turned to our everyday forms of communication, such as Facebook.com, as an answer to the response dilemma.

After hearing of the tragedy, UPenn junior, Ko Im said, “I immediately tried to reach my friend at V. Tech via Facebook. At the same time, my eyes were glued to either the computer or television…”

More than 550 support groups for the Virginia Tech massacre have been created on Facebook, and the VT logo with a black ribbon has quickly appeared all over profiles. Most of these groups are individual schools acknowledging support of Virginia Tech students, but some take a different track.

The group “How to Support VT Shooting Victims,” was started by a Virginia Tech student with the purpose of petitioning the media to stop the glut of attention the shooter is receiving.

Other students agree.

“I don’t feel as though the media is treating the victims of this tragedy with respect,” Gambale said. “There is too much focus on why the killer did it and finding someone to blame. In this type of situation, there are no clear answers as to why it happened. Va. Tech deserves our support, and they don’t need to be put under a microscope in such a difficult time.”

Some feel that the Facebook groups are pointless and an avoidance of reality, like the groups called, “Enough with the groups about Virginia Tech”, and “I support Reality and Not False Concern.”

Hate groups for the killer, Cho Seung Hui, have also cropped up, triggering a disgusted response in Temple junior Sara Gamble.

“People lost their lives and families and friendships were destroyed…and people turn to Facebook to make fun of the kid. It’s nauseating, she said.

Facebook has become a key element in our generation’s grieving process. As college students struggle to find a way to respond, groups like “I Support College kids everywhere” are being created to form a support network among peers.

“What happened at Virginia Tech is an example of a student feeling isolated from everyone to the point where he decided to not only take his own life, but the lives of 32 others as well,” said Juan Galeano. “What we need to focus on is engaging those around us…sometimes just by doing the smallest gesture such as smiling at someone can go a long way in improving the feeling of being part of a greater community—the most important social aspect of college and life.”

You can contact Prasana William at community@campusphilly.org.

Academia del Caffe

You know what they say about too many cooks spoiling things? Well, Carrie Lapp says they are wrong. While the 33-year-old entrepreneur may be the public voice of Café Hausbrandt, Lapp has three partners all pushing the business forward in its efforts to earn a place in Philadelphia’s café society. Far from crowding each other, they act as mutual support.

“These are people who can manage cafés with one hand tied behind their backs,” she said. “When you really know a business and you are able to guide and educate others, then you can produce a successful business.”

We’ll find out soon enough. Café Hausbrandt’s four owners have expanded their one-shop enterprise dramatically, recently opening three new cafés in town — in the Public Ledger Building at 620 Chestnut St., the Marketplace Design Center at 2400 Market St. and 1039 Chestnut St. — under the name Academia del Caffe, while planning cafés at 1 S. Penn Square (next month), 1616 Walnut St. (September) and the Curtis Center at 601 Walnut (December).

The story began in 2003 when Lapp and her Italian-born husband Massimo Taurisano opened Café Hausbrandt at 207 S. 15th St. in Center City. Things clicked and a year later the couple brought in two friends from Italy, husband and wife Nicoletta Pavanello Stocco and Massimiliano “Max” Tuccone to take a partnership stake and help manage operations.

All are under 40 but all have experience in the business, and industry players say the addition of the Italian contingent has given Hausbrandt some serious muscle.

“They are bringing in Italian baristas to their cafés, people who take the service of coffee professionally, who treat the coffee with the same reverence that they do in Europe,” said John Reitano, who as owner of Capogiro Gelato of Philadelphia has worked with Hausbrandt for several years.

Experts say it’s that reverence for the bean that helps the partners distinguish their product from myriad other coffee alternatives.

As president of La Spaziale USA, Assaad Benabid imports high-end espresso makers. He lovingly notes that espresso possesses over 1,000 aromas, as compared to a mere 800 in wine. Hausbrandt’s imported experts understand this, Benabid said.

“A lot of their success comes from their focus on quality, by which I mean really researching what it takes to make a good cup of coffee. They believe a lot in education, first educating themselves and then educating the consumer.”

Yes, the coffee is good. That’s a plus. On the down side, this team opened three new cafés simultaneously. That’s a massive capital spend in an industry notorious for lean margins and fickle clientele. Can this possibly be a good idea?

“Well, why not?” Lapp said, coolly. “We have a growth strategy, we want to get our name out there, and one way to do that is to have different locations throughout the city.”

She said the logistics of managing all those new spaces at once should not be overwhelming. The partners oversee each location, and they have hired and trained managers, bringing them up to speed at the existing Hausbrandt location as the new stores prepare to open. As to capital, Lapp said the partners themselves are carrying the lion’s share of the upfront expense, with bank loans making up the difference. It is manageable, “but it is a significant investment for us,” she admitted.

Perhaps the biggest challenge to pulling off this growth spurt has been the buildout of the new spaces.

“We had all of our furniture and finishings and equipment made in Italy, all the counters and tables and all of that stuff,” she explained. “If you have ever imported anything you know there are always challenges involved in that.”

Even as they wrangled with customs delays, the partners met the usual renovation hassles.

“Every time you take a wall down you find something you didn’t expect to find behind it,” Lapp said.

But why did they do all three at once?

As Lapp has it figured, this approach will help the café chain achieve critical mass in short order, pushing a degree of name recognition that couldn’t happen with a slower pace of growth.

“If you want to grow and you want people to know who you are, you really do need to spread throughout the city.”

The partners are ever on the search for promising locations, and Lapp said they invested considerable time in finding these new spots, which makes sense, given the old adage: Location, location … plus really good coffee.

At the end of the day Lapp agrees with those in the industry who say it is Hausbrandt’s bean savvy that will ultimately carry the day.

“People have a choice when it comes to their morning coffee,” she said. “You can go to Starbucks, you can go to Cosi or whatever happens to be in your neighborhood. So we have to have a product that really resonates with people. We have to have something unique.”

This article is reprinted with permission from the Philadelphia Business Journal. You can visit the PBJ online.

The Fillmore Philadelphia

Once upon a time, there was a little psychedelic concert hall called The Fillmore Auditorium, named for its location on the intersection of Fillmore Street and Geary Boulevard in San Francisco. It became one of the most famous spots of the psychedelic music and counterculture of the 1960s, and helped to cultivate bands such as Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, and Santana.

Posters of Fillmore concerts are now iconic images, along with the tub of free apples for concertgoers located at its entrance, and the greeter who welcomed each guest at the door.

The Fillmore is now owned and operated by Live Nation, an offshoot of Clear Channel Operations and the world’s largest live music company headquartered in Los Angeles. Is this why our beloved Theatre of the Living Arts on South Street, also owned by Live Nation, is about to change its name to The Fillmore Philadelphia?

Bruce Eskowitz, Live Nation’s CEO, has stated that the company only wishes “to make the concert experience better for Philadelphian music fans.” Live Nation says they wish to continue the spirit of The Fillmore and create a familiar brand as they did with their eleven House of Blues clubs across the country.

Todd Rundgren, Philadelphia’s “native son”, will perform the first evening that the TLA is called the Fillmore. There will be apples for everyone and a greeter at the door in classic Fillmore style. Other changes will include new hardwood floors, dark red paint on the walls, and three chandeliers to illuminate archival posters, articles and pictures from bygone days.

This year, The Fillmore will begin a yearlong tradition in which concertgoers will receive collectible posters of the evening after selected shows. Air, Amy Winehouse, and Peter Bjorn and John are some of the names that will grace the stage after the changes.

The Theatre of The Living Arts building, which has been everything from a late night cinema to a counterculture theater, has been around for quite some time. For nearly the last 20 years it has done for Philadelphia what The Fillmore did for San Francisco—raising local bands out of obscurity.

Just a quick look around the blogger nation reveals that Philadelphians are generally unhappy about the proposed changes. In fact, one blogger on LiveJournal has begun a petition to stop the name change by contacting the head of Electric Factory concerts.

Live Nation says that its goals are to inspire passion about music and venues, but many think the company is actually hoping to inspire more money from the average concertgoer, as well as further homogenize the American music scene.

I hope that the corporation’s optimism for better things to come is correct, and it doesn’t end up alienating a burgeoning music scene. We will have to wait and see what happens once the adored South Street TLA becomes The Fillmore Philadelphia.

You can contact Amanda O’Mahony at cameraeye82@yahoo.com.

Philly Dragon Boating

“It’s an overnight sensation twenty-five years in the making.”

That sums up dragon boating in America, says Jim Morris, Vice President of the Philadelphia Dragon Boating Association. The ancient sport has hit its stride locally, with the Philadelphia team consistently one of the best in the world.

Simply put, dragon boating is, “Chinese crew with 20 people”, plus a steersman and a drummer, according to Morris. In this disciplined sport, each paddler hits the water at the same time, at a rate of about 80 strokes per minute.

The boats have carved dragons’ heads at the bow and tails at the stern. Thousands of years ago, a Chinese warrior drowned himself in a river as a political protest. People organized races in his memory, and that tradition continues today in dragon boating.

How did this ritual cross over the ocean? In 1983, the Hong Kong tourist association gave dragon boats to U.S. cities with strong crew traditions. They promised a free trip to Hong Kong to the winner of an American competition. Philadelphia had the winning team.

With that introduction to the sport, local dragon boating was off to a strong start. At the first world championships in 1995, the Philadelphia team earned a silver medal in the 500 meter race. Races are 250, 500 or 1000 meters in male, female, or co-ed teams.

The premiere teams of the Philadelphia Dragon Boating Association have members ranging in age from 18 to early 40s. There are also youth teams, and teams for people over 40 and over 50 teams. This year, the Philadelphia school district became the first in the nation to offer dragon boating as a varsity sport.

The best Philadelphia team will attempt to continue the city’s winning ways at the world championships in Australia this fall. It earned the right to represent the U.S. after winning the national championships in 2006. In Sydney, this amateur team will compete against international squads that include former Olympic rowers. Morris has confidence in the team. It won the gold medal at the 1999 world championship with “a bunch of local guys,” he said.

Those local guys want to know if you’d like to join them. As members who have been with the team for more than twenty years grow older, they are looking for replacements. Said Morris, “We are absolutely looking for new members.”

He describes the sport as easy to learn and forgiving to beginners. The Philadelphia Dragon Boating Association is recruiting new members in their twenties. Participants peak in their early thirties, a higher average age than most other sports, so joining fresh out of college gives you many years of excellence ahead of you.

Dragon boating is an intense sport. Morris credits the team’s success to the member’s efforts, which include practices five times a week, and individual training. All of that work is in addition to team members’ regular jobs and family commitments, making their participation a real labor of love.

Besides staying in shape and traveling the world, dragon boating offers social perks. Morris recalls the “core friendships of the people on the team for a long time.”

It’s multi-generational, with fathers and sons and mothers and daughters sharing the experience.

“People get into the team and love it and stick with it.”

You can contact Danielle Bullen at daniellebullen@yahoo.com.

Philadelphia Water Works

With temperatures finally heating up and summer quickly approaching, it’s the perfect time to tour the Fairmount Water Works. The Water Works, located behind the Art Museum on the banks of the Schuylkill, provided fresh drinking water to Philadelphia until the early twentieth century.

The Water Works were developed as the first water distribution system of their kind. During the late 1700s, Philadelphia was suffering from a scathing yellow fever epidemic that killed citizens in droves. Scientists of that era believed that the disease was caused by contaminated drinking water (the real culprit is the mosquito).

Rising fear of the epidemic spurred the creation of the Watering Committee, a precursor to the Philadelphia Water Department. The Watering Committee concocted a plan to build a massive reservoir and pumping station that would send fresh drinking water from the Schuylkill River to subscribing households in the city.

The Committee’s first attempt, which was built in the center of the city (where City Hall now sits), was a technical success, but the reservoir was too small to supply the entire city. As a result, the Watering Committee chose Frederick Graff to build a larger system. Graff’s creation became known as the Water Works.

The Water Works were a success, both technically and aesthetically. They used steam engines to pump water from the river to the huge reservoir where the Museum of Art now stands. The steam engines were later replaced by water wheels and turbines.

Because the city also used the Schuylkill River as a public sewer, pollution rendered the Water Works useless as a source of fresh drinking water by 1909. The structures that remain at the foot of the Museum of Art housed the pumping machinery.

The newly created Fairmount Water Works Interpretative Center has renovated these buildings and equipped them with interactive exhibits that explain the history, functions, and operations of the Water Works.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art also conducts one-and-a-half-hour guided tours of the Water Works, which detail their history and impact on the city and the world.

The Art Museum tours begin at the West Entrance, overlooking the buildings. From there, a guide leads you down a path into the Water Works, explaining the reasoning behind their creation and the revolutionary technology that powered them.

This tour is invaluable for history junkies, or anyone looking to get the whole picture of what the Water Works really did. One of the most interesting facts is how the creation of the Works directly influenced the construction of the Museum of Art.

More than half of the tour is given outside on the banks of the Schuylkill overlooking the Water Works, which makes it perfect for a warm summer day. After the hour-and-a-half tour, you can still explore the rest of the Water Works Interpretative Center, or the Museum of Art.

You can book a tour of the Water Works through the Philadelphia Museum of Art at www.philamuseum.org.

You can contact Zack Engel at editassist@campusphilly.org.

Vietnam

Recently, I noticed something slightly disturbing about college eating habits—a huge percentage of our diet consists of quick, greasy concoctions claiming to be Asian food. This isn’t news, I know, but last weekend I found myself hungry for quality Asian cuisine. I wanted my Asian food without a side of grease and stomachache. Enter Vietnam—the restaurant.

It’s all in the name for this sleek restaurant on the outskirts of Chinatown, which specializes in cuisine from its namesake nation. The simplicity of the name is consistent with the food—simple presentation and simply satisfying.

We started with the Crispy Spring Rolls—a crunchy, fried pastry roll stuffed with a mild mixture of pork, spices, onions and mushrooms and served with a slightly spicy dipping sauce. These were the best spring rolls I’ve ever had, mostly because of the crisp texture of the pastry wrapping. Rather than the chewy underdone dough or hard over-fried spring rolls I’ve endured in the past, Vietnam’s version offered a thin pastry shell that flaked off in my mouth—letting the filling take flavorful prominence.

For a main course, I ordered the Bun Thit Nuong (Pork Vermicelli). This dish consists of thin strips of char-grilled pork over a bed of rice vermicelli noodles, cucumber, lettuce, bean sprouts, and crushed peanuts. The house sauce, Nuoc Mam, was served on the side, and tastes like a thin, spicy duck sauce. Even with the whole bowl of sauce poured on the dish, the bland taste of plain rice noodles dominated. If you like milder food, this dish is great for you, but I like my food a little more flavorful.

One of my friends enjoyed the Suon Nuong (Lemon Grass Pork chop)—an interesting departure from the usual thin-sliced pork.

To accompany the meal, I ordered the Dual Tuoi (Coconut Drink)—which is coconut meat and juice topped with crushed ice. If you’ve ever drank coconut milk straight from the coconut, or enjoyed Goya’s cheaply canned coconut milk, don’t order this drink. I was expecting the sharp, sweet tang of coconut milk, but instead got water with long strips of coconut meat floating in it. Trying to fish the meat out from beneath the giant snowball of crushed ice was an adventure. If your only coconut experience comes from an Almond Joy, go ahead and get this drink—if you make it past the snowball, the coconut meat is quite good.

Vietnam’s atmosphere is simple elegance. With a palate of deep red and dark wood, the dimly lit interior provides an intimate atmosphere that evokes a French bistro. Major highlights of the décor were the deep-set windows in the front of the building, complete with heavy glass panes, which made even the short wait for seating more pleasant.

The service was also an important highlight. Our server was informative and helpful, even to the point of suggesting the amount of sauce to use on one dish.

Vietnam

221 N. 11th St

215.592.1163

www.eatvietnam.com

You can contact Prasana William at community@campusphilly.org.

Dining Out For Life

On Thursday, April 26, ActionAIDS is hosting the 17th annual Dining Out for Life. Two-hundred restaurants across the Philadelphia region will participate in the event, in which they will donate a third of each bill from the night to local AIDS service organizations.

ActionAIDS is a nonprofit organization based in Philadelphia. Its dedicated staff and volunteers work to sustain and enhance the quality of life for those living with HIV/AIDS. They provide a range of direct services, and also take a role in AIDS education and advocacy in Philadelphia. The ActionAIDS staff prides itself on being an inclusive organization that is committed to serving the incredibly diverse community affected by this epidemic.

What started out as an ActionAIDS fundraiser almost two decades ago has been so successful that it is now an international event. Dining Out for Life presently takes place in 40 cities across the United States and Canada and raises over two million dollars a year.

With so many restaurants involved this year, there’s something for whatever you’re hungry for.

Craving a real good cheeseburger? Go to Johnny Rockets or Jack’s Firehouse.

In need of some comfort food? Try out A Full Plate Café or Deuce Restaurant & Bar.

Do you really need an excuse to get some Thai? My Thai and Lemon Grass Thai Restaurant are both participating.

Ladies, tell your men that the Melting Pot is participating, too.

Just want to relax with a cup of Joe? Check out Adobe Café or Café Gallery.

Brazilian, Caribbean, French, Italian, Japanese, Indian, Cuban, Greek, Mexican, Persian, Moroccan, Irish and Chinese eateries are all in the mix.

Just want to grab a slice a pizza? They have that too.

Try something new. Or that place that you’ve been trying to find time to go to—it’s for a good cause.

The full listing of participating restaurants can be found at www.DiningOutForLife.com, or by calling 1-877-EAT-4-LIFE.

There is also more information on MySpace.

Oh, and did I mention the Apple Vacations raffle? There will be a chance to win a trip for two to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic—round trip airfare, four-night hotel stay, all meals and drinks included.

So take a break from studying for finals, Dine Out and make a difference. You have to eat sometime, right?

You can contact Maria Karlya at mk1221@messiah.edu.

Entrepreneurship Week

What are the necessary steps to become a successful entrepreneur? If this question ever crossed your mind, then clear your schedule for the upcoming week.

Philadelphia Entrepreneurship Week kicks off on Monday, April 23 and runs until Saturday, April 28. This is the Empowerment Group’s second annual event. It’s sure to be just as fun and informative, if not more so, than last years’.

The Empowerment Group is a non-profit organization that aspires to improve various communities in Philadelphia. The group has found that showing current and future entrepreneurs necessary business skills is an efficient strategy to help overcome economic distress and teach individuals to be self-sufficient.

The skills Empowerment teaches show entrepreneurs how to create successful businesses, or to simply be better employees. As this success trickles down, new jobs form, and communities benefit from the newly introduced economic growth. All in all, the business development community becomes united and a foundation for better living is created.

Philadelphia Entrepreneurship Week will be a city-wide campaign to promote the Empowerment Group’s vision. The week will begin with a press conference at City Hall, with coverage from various media outlets.

The week will also include: a Small Business Exposition in Rittenhouse Square; a Business Assistance Fair, featuring banks and insurance providers offering help, information, and resources for budding entrepreneurs; and workshops, training sessions, and consulting sessions.

The Empowerment Group will also host the 4th annual Make Change! Youth Entrepreneurship Conference.

Philadelphia Entrepreneurship Week is open to everyone and anyone who would like to attend. Individuals can participate in any of the business training sessions and learn the pertinent skills to being successful. Established companies can also join by becoming sponsors or hosting networking events.

A little participation from everyone can do wonders for the community. Businesses supply Philadelphia’s economy, and it takes certain skills and resources to make them work. Only then can jobs open up and differences occur.

If you are interested in attending any of the events for Philadelphia Entrepreneurship Week, you can contact Jessica Nalk at 215-427-9245 ext. 4, or JNalk@empowerment-group.org.

Help support the businesses in our community and help build a stronger Philadelphia.

You can contact Rosemary Hau at tua04296@temple.edu.

Finding your Volunteering Fit

This week, young people are coming together to impact the Philadelphia community in City Year’s service event “100 Hours of Power.” Working in four-hour shifts, for 100 hours straight, these volunteers will paint murals and fix up community areas.

The immensity of this event may seem intimidating, but volunteering in Philadelphia doesn’t have to be so daunting. In fact, there are numerous resources to help you find a way to give back to the city you currently call home—whether you’re only here for the four years it takes to get a degree, or a permanent Philadelphian.

Everyone has different strengths, so here are four organizations that can help you find the right volunteer project for you.

Greater Philadelphia Cares
www.gpcares.com

According to its website, Greater Philadelphia Cares’ (GPC) mission is to “support… the creation of vibrant communities by motivating people to volunteer their time, talents, and resources.” This organization coordinates volunteer opportunities for individuals or groups. It’s easy to get started: just take ten minutes to complete the online orientation and you can sign up for one of the over 100 opportunities they provide. GPC divides its volunteer opportunities into ten categories: Reading STARS (a one-on-one literacy tutoring program); Hunger; Children’s Education; Strengthening Families; Environment; Seniors; Computer Literacy; Disabilities; Community Development and Revitalization; and Grapevine (a catch-all category for all events that do not fit in the other categories). GPC also has a calendar online of the month’s volunteering events.

Mural Arts Program
www.muralarts.org

You’ve seen them all over the city—big paintings across buildings in the most unusual places. The Mural Arts Program (MAP) has been spreading community strength through its painting projects since 1984. MAP strives to include members of the neighborhood in which they create murals. Volunteering with MAP gives you a great opportunity to connect with the Philadelphia community. A volunteer application is available on the site.

Urban Tree Connection
www.urbantreeconnection.org

Like MAP, the Urban Tree Connection seeks to take abandoned urban space and transform it into something fruitful. By transforming neglected lots into beautiful gardens, the Urban Tree Connection provides the community with a safe place to play. If you’re a country kid missing the color green, this is your chance to get dirty for a good cause.

Volunteer Match
www.volunteermatch.org

This national site has a searchable database of volunteer opportunities, with numerous listings in Philly.

You can contact Prasana William at community@campusphilly.org.

Thousands of “Wieners”, One Loser

As it was Hatfield “Dollar Dog Night”, the lines for the hot dog stand were longer than the lines for the bathroom at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday, April 4. The giant monitor displayed over 41,000 highly excited fans, with one man proposing to his girlfriend. On an unseasonably cold spring evening, the Phillies, who began the season as the team to beat in the National League, must now get past a 0 and 2 start to the year.

Since it was a Phillies College Night, many students were present, eager to cheer on their team even in the cold. With the Braves first at bat, the crowd’s spirits (made up largely of college students) were soaring in the first inning. One student was dressed as a giant hot dog, while others kept tallies of how many dogs they had eaten on large pieces of poster board.

Catcher Carlos Ruiz hit a homerun in the fifth inning to give the Phillies the first run of the night. Starting pitcher Cole Hamels had a near perfect outing before getting pulled at the end of the seventh inning. During the seventh inning, the crowd stood for the “seventh inning stretch” and resoundingly sang “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.

Shane Victorino scored the Phillies second run, driving in Jimmy Rollins, on an RBI double in the eighth inning. All things were going well into the ninth inning as Tom “Flash” Gordon came out to close the game.

Four pitches later, the Phillies’ hopes for an easy win were dashed, as the Braves tied up the game 2 to 2.

Kim McKnight, an amazingly devoted Phillies fan, was highly disappointed by the evening’s turn.

“After watching the person I wanted to win American Idol get voted off, I turn to a game we were winning to find that we were then tied, she said.

Much heckling was expected and doled out for the Braves, while the fans continued to cheer the Phillies well into the extra innings. As the innings went on, fans provided sports commentary from their seats, and others felt it was necessary to throw items onto the field.

Regardless of how many dances the Phanatic did with the cheerleaders, or how many times the crowd did the wave, the win for the Phillies remained elusive.

Many fans were upset by the extreme turn the game took in the ninth inning. After the third out on bases loaded during the tenth inning, more than half the stadium left their seats for a long trek home.

Unfortunately, upon checking the 11 o’clock broadcast, these fans would not be greeted with good news. The Braves beat the Phillies 3 to 2 in the eleventh inning, leaving much room for improvement for our home team.

The Phillies will have to work very hard to prove to their diehard fans that there is still hope for the season yet.

April 13 is the next Hatfield “Dollar Dog Night”/College Night. Let’s see if our team can turn the year around.

You can contact Amanda O’Mahony at cameraeye82@yahoo.com..