No Fun, No Fair

5-6 No fun fair

This was not the scene Rotary Club organizers hoped to see in Swarthmore Town Center on Sunday, May 1. The wrenching decision was made to cancel the Fun-Fair for the safety and comfort of all concerned. Better luck next year! Photo by Marv Gelb

By midmorning Sunday, the decision had been made. The Swarthmore Charity Fun-Fair, a year in the planning, was washed away by the cold and rain and moody mist that saturated the area on Sunday.

“On Saturday night and again at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, the Fun-Fair team leaders discussed our thoughts about whether we could pull it off,” Fun-Fair chair Marv Gelb said. “We called our vendors to see what they were thinking. Then six of us met in the borough parking lot (i.e. the Fun-Fair Food Court) at 7:45 a.m. with Swarthmore Police Chief Brian Craig.

“A big key to our decision was the safety and comfort of the public,” Gelb said — the inflatable slide and bouncy house would have been dangerous in the rain, and musicians would have put themselves and their instruments at risk on a wet stage. “The rain and bone-chilling cold … made the right decision evident to us, when we reluctantly faced up to it. When we jointly decided all hope of pulling off the Fun-Fair was gone, we moved into ‘cancellation action,’” with Delco Alert, e-mails, texts, phone calls, web notices and social media to make sure the word got out.

You might think the decision was especially agonizing for Gelb. It is his last tour of duty with the Fun-Fair — he and his wife Dorothy will move in July to a new home in North Carolina. Gelb worked since the last Fun-Fair (which he also chaired) to make sure that this year’s edition would be bigger and better that ever. All the organization, rallying of volunteers, recruitment of charity participants, coordination of vendors, interface with borough leaders, merchants, and emergency services — that work had been done. All that remained was the party that would culminate it.

But Gelb accepted the bad luck with his usual equanimity. In fact, he and his cadre of volunteers made a celebration happen regardless, making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. After the team carried out all the tasks entailed by its cancellation plan, Gelb said, “We still had 225 pounds of freshly cooked pork to deal with. Our decision was to deliver 210 pounds to CityTeam in Chester … and then we notified our fellow Rotarians that we were having a ‘Pulled Pork Party’ at the home of Chris and Cathy Darrell. For two hours, we ate pulled pork sandwiches with chips and soda, and enjoyed each other’s company.”

Gelb’s longtime Swarthmore Rotary Club colleague Ken Wright wrote in the Swarthmorean’s Fun-Fair supplement last week, “He brings out the very best in us, and these days, especially, we need all of that we can get.” Thanks, Marv, for smiling through the rain.

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