East Falls enjoys its spot along bike race

EAST FALLS. Manayunk has its Wall, the Parkway has its photo-op finishing line and if neighborhood groups have their way, the East Falls riverfront will be the place families can go to watch the Philadelphia International Cycling Championships in relative peace.

Several hundred men, women and children from the city’s always-seemingly-next-great neighborhood and beyond cavorted amid local-business and community-group tents not far from signs for a beer garden, chiropractic massages and children’s entertainment. There was everything from Flyers shirts (a plethora), Muslim head scarves (a scant few), one pink-shoe-sporting young lady with small-fry pooch (on a pink leash) and strollers galore.

Cowbells (available for $5) rang out like droning vuvuzelas at the World Cup — those yard-long horns — each time competitors sped along Kelly Drive past Midvale Avenue.

“East Falls is a family friendly place,” said Gina Snyder, executive director of the East Falls Development Corp. “This isn’t just a neighborhood event, though. This event can show everybody in the area what a great neighborhood we have.”

Talking near the newly opened Trolley Car Cafe, Snyder admitted the economic downturn delayed hoped-for growth but there’s “still a lot of interest.” Three weeks ago, Tom and Arlene Leschak opened the Epicure Cafe up the hill on Conrad Street. Sunday, they were cooking burgers and hot dogs under a tent.

“The neighborhood’s changed, and people don’t cook anymore,” said Tom Leschak, who opened a restaurant after three decades running a market and catering business. “There’s a much younger-professional crowd moving in and that’s helped us be successful so far.”

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