Chairman’s Corner – New Hogmanay Venue 2011

Chairman’s Corner – November 2011

I am writing to let you all know about a change in the venue for Hogmanay. After many happy and successful Hogmanays at Swarthmore’s Tarble-in-Clothier, we will be holding Hogmanay this year in Germantown Friends School’s new Field House. Given the beauty of Tarble, the good acoustics and everyone’s familiarity with the location, members and friends alike may be wondering why the move. The answer simply out is: SNOW and RECESSION.

Last year, it snowed significantly on Dec. 31st and the days before. Given that it was a weekend, the college would normally have left the snow on the ground till the next work day, when their Buildings and Grounds crew would have cleared the snow as a matter of course. But because we were renting Tarble, they had to come in on a holiday weekend, at overtime pay, and clear the roads, paths and building entranceways. Moreover, their insurance liability rules required them to clear the whole campus, not just the area around Tarble. This cost the college between $4000-5000, yet our rent was a mere $650. The numbers tell their own story.

In the past, when Hogmanay was at Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr or Haverford, and there was snow, the colleges just “ate the loss,” but in these hard economic times, every department has taken cuts and subsidizing our ball with snow removal is no longer in the cards.

Swarthmore did NOT ‘kick us out’ but simply said that if it snowed significantly, we would have to reschedule Hogmanay for the following weekend. This does not work for the Branch because of our contract with an out-of-town band as well as the many friends and alumni of the Branch who use their holiday to travel to Philadelphia and attend Hogmanay. And so, we had to look elsewhere.

Your Executive Committee spent a significant amount of time this fall looking for and negotiating over halls. Some were too pricey, some just wouldn’t rent to us on New Year’s Eve, some had tile-over-concrete floors (unacceptable!) and a number insisted we be out by such early hours as 11;00PM or 2:00AM (the latter would require ending the ball at 1:00 so that clean-up and sound equipment breakdown could happen).

After much searching and discussion, we have arranged to have Hogmanay at Germantown Friends School. Though not as pretty a hall, the field house is roomy, has plenty of nearby parking, abundant bathroom facilities and a gym floor that is not slippery.

Please pass the word to friends and guests about this change so that no one, unsuspectingly, shows up at Swarthmore. Moreover, DO NOT use the school’s regular address for a web-search for directions. Parking and entering will happen from nearby School House Lane, where the school’s security staff will direct parking.

If using Google or Mapquest enter the address: 42 West School House Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19144
OR visit the GFS website Germantown Friends

We are paying significantly more for this location, but under the last minute circumstances (Swarthmore didn’t inform us of their decision until September!), we are fortunate to have an excellent, safe and roomy hall for dancing. We’ll have to see how this location works for the Branch and can then think to the future.

See you at Hogmanay—at of course, at the famous “Recovery Party,” this year to be hosted by the ever-generous Emery’s in Fort Washington.