Delivering ponies, anything for a buck

College employment opportunities are limited to the droves of undergrad students still working toward their first university degree. Students can be found staffing restaurants, re¬tail shops and clothing stores all around Phila¬delphia. But when folding

College employment opportunities are limited to the droves of undergrad students still working toward their first university degree. Students can be found staffing restaurants, re¬tail shops and clothing stores all around Phila¬delphia.

But when folding sweaters or serving soup just isn’t cutting it, some Temple students find more unique jobs to stave off the monotony of employment.

Pulling all-nighters in the architecture studio keeps Rob Palladino busy many nights, but the fourth-year architecture major delivers ponies to children’s parties on the weekends to score extra cash.

Palladino, who was also an ice cream truck driver in high school, has been working week¬ends at Toot’s Funny Farm, which is owned by a relative, for 14 years. While it’s not exactly the best job, Palladino said, it does pay the bills.

Besides delivering the ponies, Palladino is responsible for giving the party attendees rides on the ponies, which he said are usually calm and well-behaved.

“They’re docile and don’t jump around or anything. All they want to do is eat the grass,” Palladino said.

The kids on the other hand are usually a hand full.

“Usually they’re really rowdy. [The kids] are real excited and I have to tell them stuff they can’t do because it scares [the ponies].”

Loud noises, like a balloon popping, scares the ponies, Palladino said. He’s had a couple kids fall off a pony because the animal was spooked by a loud noise or pop – never good for the party.

Nathaniel Yost does a lot of driving also, but not to deliver ponies. You’ll find him be¬hind the wheel of a Bentley Continental GT or Mercedes SL55 on a typical Friday night. The junior international business and accounting major is a valet at the Capital Grille in Center City on weekends.

Working at one of the city’s most popular steak houses has its perks. Yost said he’s parked the cars of many famous Philadelphia athletes including Peter Forsberg of the Philadelphia Flyers and Eagles player Mike Patterson.

“If the Eagles players come in, they tip [well], but if it’s corporate people and their company is paying, they usually don’t tip,” Yost said. “Some people will hand you a twenty and some just give you a crumpled up dollar bill.”

Yost has been working for the valet com¬pany, Platinum Parking in Center City for about three months, and he’s had the opportunity to valet at Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion, Finnigan’s Wake, and the Ballroom at the Ben.

Paying $6 an hour plus tips, which can be $30 to $40 on weeknights and $60 to $100 on weekends, Yost said the job was a cinch to get.

“As long as your license is clear now and your [license] isn’t suspended, they’ll take [you],” Yost said.

The money’s good, but Yost said his favorite part of the job is the cars. “I test drive cars for a living,” he said.

Getting paid to attend a 76ers game is an unheard of dream for most basketball fans, but that’s just what Jessica Smeriglio gets paid to do.

As a part of “The Fan Squad,” Smeriglio is required to show up an hour before the game and work through the first quarter, greeting fans and handing out special promotional gear, schedules and thunder sticks.

In turn, she gets $35 and the closest empty seat to the court she can find.

“I’m a supervisor at the gym at Temple and [The Fan Squad] is a lot different because it takes you out of the element of going to school. On a Wednesday night I’m at the Wachovia Center. It’s like a break,” Smeriglio said.

The junior sports and recreational management major said she hoped the job would score her some contacts, and she said it has already.

“I want to work with the 76ers and eventually I’d like to work at Madison Square Garden, or for any pro basketball team,” Smeriglio said.

“I’m interested in game operations – the events which keep crowds going during pauses and breaks in the game – and also community relations for sports teams.”

Sophomore film and media arts major Andrew McElvain prefers a more physical, hands-on job.

Since September he’s been working deep within the walls of the abandoned Divine Lorraine Hotel located at Broad Street and Ridge Avenue, salvaging valuable materials out of the old hotel before it is converted into condos.

“It’s one of the coolest buildings in Philadelphia, and I’ve driven past there and thought how cool it was, and now I’m part of the project and I’m getting it ready to make it nice,” McElvain said of the old hotel that piqued his interest as a film major.

“As a film major it’s awesome because it’s like a dream movie set.”

McElvain was purchasing wood at American Soil/Provenance Salvage on Fairmount Avenue and started talking to the owner Bob Beaty about the old hotel.

Beaty hired him to work at the Divine Lorraine for Provenance, the company hired by the owner of the Divine Lorraine to salvage items like marble sinks, copper wire and claw foot tubs for resale.

The job has allowed McElvain to get a thorough look through the Divine Lorraine, and he’s even shot a short movie, which he’s currently editing for a Dec. 9 exhibition of photographs, film and paintings about the hotel that will be held at Yards Brewery.

“There’s a really good partnership with the community going on [between the owners of the Divine Lorraine and the neighborhood]. It’s not just about making condos and making money. It’s about restoring the building and the community,” McElvain said.

McElvain likes the setting and spirit that comes with his job, but it can be drafty in the hotel, which is missing many of its windows.

“It can get pretty chilly,” McElvain said.

“But it’s strange that I have a job that I enjoy.”

Josh Chamberlain can be reached at

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