YARDLEY BOROUGH >> From the waters of Lake Afton to Fitzgerald’s Field, Harvest Day bustled with fun and plenty of smiles on Saturday.
Thousands descended on the riverfront town for a day of crafts, community information, fall fun, free entertainment and plenty of delicious food.
Along Canal Street, the aroma of fried fish filled the air as ladies from the Yardley Baptist Church served its annual Harvest Day fish fry.
Not far away, stationed at the western end of the College Avenue bridge, members from the Yardley-Makefield VFW were busy handing out poppies to the hundreds of visitors streaming over the bridge.
At the opposite end of College Avenue within view of the Delaware River, youngsters were using their creativity to decorate pumpkins at one of the bigger draws of the day - the pumpkin decorating activity.
Harris Comfort, a family owned and operated business for more than 75 years, provided a little more than 1,200 pumpkins for this year’s activity, which grows bigger and bigger each year .
As he looked out over the pumpkin decorating activity, Bruce Harris, the Vice President of Harris Comfort, smiled. “This is the place to be on Harvest Day,” he said.
Another place to be was Fitzgerald Field off of Bell Avenue - home to the event’s food court and entertainment stage.
Throughout the day kids had a ball jumping and down inside bounce houses and taking pony rides sponsored by Federated Lending Company and RE/MAX TOTAL.
One of the more unique attractions this year was a booth devoted to handmade toys and games provided by retired Washington Crossing historic interpreter Gail Thompson who has lived in Yardley for close to 50 years.
Thompson was looking for a way to put her collection of handmade toys to good use. “I thought, why not take them to Harvest Day and see if the kids would enjoy them.”
It didn’t take long for her booth to draw a large crowd of children who seemed drawn to the handmade toys and games.
Kids had a chance to make a corn husk doll, play a game of Tug-of-War, try out a dancing wooden figure or rock back and forth on a woolly sheep.
As she watched a group of youngsters explore and play with her collection of handmade toys, including ball and cups, buzzer buttons and Jacob’s Ladder, it made her smile.
“I’m seeing pure delight,” she said of the expressions on the faces of the kids. “They absolutely love these old toys. But they’re all lost in the technology. No one plays with Tops or marbles or pick up sticks. I mean look at them enjoying the toys. I think parents need to encourage this and not let the kids get on the computers as often. They live on their phones and it’s stifling our next generations.
“The kids don’t understand how to be creative anymore,” Thompson continued. “Back when I was younger we made most of our toys. It taught us ingenuity. We learned to balance when we jumped rope. We learned to sing when we sang our rhymes. We learned how to cooperate with one another. We’re missing too much of that today,” she said.
Thompson said the most popular toy is also one of the most basic - pick up sticks. “You can use toothpicks and play a game of pickup sticks. They also love the Jacobs Ladder,” she said.
Harvest Day, said Thompson, is one of her favorite events of the year.
“I love to see the whole community come together,” she said. “It’s like a big reunion. Yardley is one of the last old-time towns where you can’t go anywhere without running into someone you know.”
Meanwhile, over at Yardley’s picturesque Lake Afton, Nick Primola was helping to oversee a very busy Harvest Day boat concession for the Friends of Lake Afton.
Primola, who grew up a block away from the lake, said it’s great to see the kids and their families coming out to enjoy the lake.
“There are a lot of crafts. There are a lot of food trucks at Harvest Day. This brings a different kind of energy,” he said. “We’re bringing the community to life with the lake.”
Assisting the Friends were about a dozen members of the Pennsbury Honor Society who assisted with boarding and unloading the boats.
One member - Daniel Rosenthal - was called to action when a rope became tangled in the pedaling mechanism on one of the boats.
Rosenthal jumped in a canoe and paddled out to the boat and within minutes had freed the rope from the pedals.
That was about the only wrinkle in an otherwise stellar day out on the placid waters of the lake.
The concession is a win-win for the Friends, said Primola, raising money for the upkeep and maintenance of the lake while also showcasing the lake to the community and helping recruit new members for the Friends organization.
“All day long we’ve had a constant flow of people come through here,” said Primola. “It’s been great today - a lot of people having a lot of fun.”
Harvest Day is organized by the Harvest Day Committee, which is made up of residents, businessowners and community leaders. Proceeds are given back to the community in the form of donations.
Past Harvest Days have benefited the Yardley Farmer’s Market, the Yardley Historical Association, the Friends of Lake Afton, the Friends of the Delaware Canal, the Pennsbury Scholarship Foundation, the Yardley-Makefield Emergency Unit, Pennsbury Operation Warm and the replacement of the Mary Yardley Footbridge.