The Sweetest Time of the Year

Tapping season at Wissahickon Valley Park means fresh maple syrup.

Wissahickon Environmental Center volunteers serve pancakes with syrup made in Wissahickon Valley Park. | EARL KUFEN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

It’s the time of the year when sugar maple trees are tapped for maple syrup. On Feb. 25, Wissahickon Environmental Center volunteers and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation employees came together to create maple syrup and educate the community at the Maple Sugar Festival at Wissahickon Valley Park.

Volunteers demonstrated how to make maple syrup for the attendees by tapping a singular tree. The volunteers tapped sugar maple trees earlier in the season, and they collected sap over the course of a month. From there, the sap was boiled to separate the water from the syrup. The remaining hot syrup was strained through cheesecloth and bottled. 

James Austin and Selena Bemak are fans of the park and have previously attended the festival 

Like many participants, Austin was surprised by how long the process of producing syrup is. 

“Tapping the tree and then boiling down the sap actually requires a lot more thought and attention,” Austin said. 

In addition to the demonstrations, volunteers made and served pancakes to park visitors. The pancakes were the seemingly most popular table at the event, as they were made freshly on a griddle with the maple syrup only 20 feet away. 

While one volunteer spent time boiling and pouring maple syrup candy, another volunteer served samples of maple syrup brands on sticks. 

“Seeing all the kids get really excited about the candy was really cute,” said Krista Hill, an outreach worker for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation who spent her time making maple syrup candy from scratch. 

Stephanie Robinson enjoys her job as an environmental education program specialist for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation because she has the chance to educate the children of Philadelphia. 

“I love it because it gives me a chance to reach so many different people in and around the city of Philadelphia all ages, from I always joke I always say from one to 100 we have a chance to educate children and teach them just how much we love nature,” Robinson said.

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