Saturday, November 18, 2017

50 Years on Parade Street

50 years. 

That's how long Kevin Brigaman has been in the donut (doughnut?) business on Parade Street. He started on January 1, 1967 at his father's shop, Mighty Fine Donuts, at 2612 Parade Street. "I was here when I was 8 years old." Brigaman recalled on a recent Thursday evening. 

Mighty Fine Donuts is Erie's best donut shop. I mean, we have some fantastic donut and pastry options in Erie, to be sure. But in the Academy Neighborhood we have to be partial to the shop that is just a few blocks away, known throughout the region, and possibly one of our neighborhood's most un-leveraged assets.

I met with Brigaman as part of the Association's efforts to reach out to neighborhood shops and stores through our newly formed Business Outreach Committee. I was joined by longtime neighborhood resident Tom Staszewski who volunteered to be on the committee. The committee's goal is to meet with owners or managers of one business each month, and to learn as much about that business and the ways the neighborhood could possibly work to help the business thrive.

The Academy Neighborhood Association's mission statement directs us to not only "support neighborhood assets" but to also "promote appropriate economic growth" in the thirty-block area that we call home. While Mighty Fine is primarily known for its donuts, we should also remember that it is the nearest coffee shop for most of the blocks in our neighborhood, and a comfortable coffee shop where people meet and talk is considered a good building block for a strong neighborhood

Here are some brief highlights from our conversation: 

In what ways is your location beneficial? "Hey, look at the traffic!" According to this Penn Dot map of average daily traffic volume, 13,000 vehicles a day travel the stretch of Parade between East 26th and East 28th Streets.

In what ways is your location a challenge? "We have had people begging. We had to put up "No Loitering" signs. We had a problem with kids after hours, the curfew helped, because we could call the police." The City of Erie passed a 10 pm curfew for anyone 17 and under in September of 2015.

What positive changes have you seen in the neighborhood recently? "A lot of immigrants and LECOM." There are a number of immigrant owned businesses on this stretch of Parade and LECOM opened its Eastside Medical Center across the street at 2625 Parade Street in 2013. 

What else do you have besides donuts? "Lottery tickets, coffee, pop and soda, cigarettes."

What is your biggest asset? "The donuts win, hands down". 

I couldn't agree more. 

L-R: Business Outreach Committee member Tom Staszewski, Mighty Fine Owner Kevin Brigaman, and Academy Neighborhood Association President Bob Hand

The Academy Neighborhood Association's Business Outreach Committee will continue to meet with owners and managers of organizations in our neighborhood and we will continue to post information about the meetings here. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Academy Neighborhood Center Open House

On Thursday, January 5th, we welcomed the neighborhood into our new home, the Academy Neighborhood Center. Located at 3025 French Street, it is the same location we have been holding meetings at for the last two years, but with a new look. 

The open house event basically turned in to a Thursday night party. There was plenty of food (thanks for the donations!), local beer, and over 50 people from our neighborhood and other parts of Erie. 

Why the “Academy Neighborhood Center”?

We have been holding our meetings and events here at 3025 French Street since November of 2014. Thanks to the cooperation and kindness of the building’s owner we have been able to secure these rooms for all of 2017. Here we have created the Academy Neighborhood Association’s new home, the Academy Neighborhood Center, where our meetings and social gatherings happen.

Why an open house?

We are proud of this building, in the same way that we are proud of our neighborhood and proud of Erie, and we want to show it off. In the next few years more than 400 million dollars is going to be spent developing downtown Erie, just a few minutes from here. When Erie takes a turn for the better our neighborhood is going a part of it.

Music by Matt Texter, great as always

What are the Academy Neighborhood Association’s plans for 2017?

Because we celebrate our 5th Anniversary this year, we are announcing our
 Five for Five: Five Community Events to Shape Our Neighborhood.

1.    4th Annual Neighborhood Cleanup in cooperation with Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, Saturday, April 22nd.

2.    Jefferson Elementary Cleanup and Playground Work Session in cooperation with the Jefferson Elementary PTO, Saturday, May 6th.

3.    Parade Street “City Work” Cleanup. Recognizing the Erie Refocused recommendations for the intersection of Pine Avenue, Old French Road, and Parade Street, we will work with our Parade Street partners to beautify and improve the area. Saturday, June 10th.

4.    Baker’s Field Cleanup and Beautification. Our third cleanup event at the park, Saturday, July 15th.

5.    National Night Out. Our third annual free outdoor concert, held at Baker’s Field. This community building event draws hundreds of people. Tuesday, August 1st.

What can I do to help?

You can volunteer at any of our Five for Five events.

You can attend any of our regularly scheduled meetings to share your ideas for improving our neighborhood. The next meeting is Tuesday, February 21st.

You can attend any of our Saturday morning coffees, and get to know more of your neighbors on a personal basis. Next coffee is Saturday, February 4th from 9-11 am.

You can stay connected online. Visit or ask to join our private Facebook group, Academy Neighbors, Erie, PA.

You can continue to be a good neighbor. Say “Hi.”, help shovel snow, or simply smile.