FOREST CITY PA – Perhaps likened to the proverbial mythical Phoenix, the businesses and residences lost to an early-morning fire last month are on the way to rising from their own ashes. With the help of a major fundraising event scheduled for Sunday afternoon October 8th, ARKhelps is working to make that happen.

When the August 27th fire department and engines’ alarms awoke Forest City’s residents about 2:30 early that Sunday morning, the fiery flames they watched being fought ultimately destroyed three buildings in the heart of this mile-long city, damaged a nearby funeral home, and left eight residents homeless.

“It was absolutely crazy! As the fire was raging in the middle of the night, people started posting on Facebook about what was happening on Main Street in Forest City,” said Eric Kropiewnicki, Manager of Angel Marketing Group and a friend of the owners of Ros-Al Florist, one of the businesses lost in the fire.

“I got the first alert of the fire about 3:15am from another local-area Facebook friend. Then Facebook was moving things along so quickly that almost right away people were asking how and what they could do to help. A fundraiser seemed like the logical idea. It really was so unbelievable how everything seemed to come together so quickly. By Sunday afternoon we had the full support of ARKhelps, and a fundraising event was building steam.”

“I’m the founder of ARKhelps,” explained 15-year old Angel Kropiewnicki of Scranton. “Since I was 12 years old, I’ve just wanted to help people. To do this, my dad and I decided to start a non-profit organization last year for the purpose of helping people in need. If any person or business needs a helping hand, we can work together to coordinate an event or any type of fundraiser to help raise money for a legitimate cause or issue. ARKhelps is an official 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and the upcoming ARK FEST will be our third fundraiser. Our previous two events raised thousands of dollars to help others, and we’re hoping to raise a good amount of money to help the Forest City people too. Personally, I’m shooting for at least $10k.”

“Facebook continued to keep everyone in touch, and it was like a snowball effect as ideas for a Forest City fundraiser kept growing with people simply wanting to help one another,” Eric recalled.

“I’ve done printing jobs for Chris and Paul of Ros-Al, Angel was fond of their pet parrot that perished in the fire, and before we knew it Ros-Al’s friends Diane and Rich Bidwell volunteered to host an event at their Creekside Grove in Lenoxville. So, Angel and I visited Creekside the next afternoon and quickly firmed up the site for the October 8th fundraising event.”

As Angel continued, “Everyone would’ve liked to hold a fundraiser like this locally, but there is no other Forest City site or facility that’s as large as Creekside.

"The Grove was offered, and we definitely need a large space for what we’ve planned. Creekside can hold 250 attendees in the covered pavilion and, weather permitting, nearly twice as many can be accommodated throughout the site itself.”

The plans for ARK FEST are likened to a rock-based festival -- with live music and an interactive DJ, pizza, hotdogs, and hamburgers, vendors, raffles, and more. All ages are invited to attend (must be 21 to drink alcoholic beverages), and the proceeds will benefit all of the Main Street Forest City fire victims. With the generous donation of advertising coverage by Honesdale National Bank, radio, press releases, and poster-flyers have been advising the public since the early stages of the event’s planning.

“Doors will open at 1:00pm, and the day’s events will continue until 8:00pm,” said Angel.

Among the local-area’s live groups scheduled to perform are Bright Shiny Objects, The Wanabees, Katie Evans & Candi Vee, Dashboard Mary, and Halfway to Hell.

“We’ll also have
T-shirts for sale, basket raffles have been donated, Dr. McGillicuddy’s, Fireball, and Platinum beverages will be sold, and Bud Light and Yuengling beer trucks will also be available,” continued Eric. “We’re still finalizing the details, but we’ve also arranged for round-trip bus transportation for those supporters who don’t drive, coordinating pick-up and drop-points in both Forest City and Carbondale.

"And since this event is on a Sunday when football fans are anxious to watch their favorite teams, we’ve also planned to have at least two on-site TVs with local broadcast of Sunday NFL football.”

Advance-sale tickets are $15, or $25 at the door. Tickets and bus transport can be ordered online at ARKhelps.org or by calling 717-805-6635. All ticket sales are non-refundable, and group discount packages may be available online.

Formerly Munley’s Grove, the renamed Creekside Grove is located off Exit 206 on Rt. 81. “Signage will be available to easily direct people to this event,” Angel added. “It breaks my heart to see a tragedy like this occur in our area. And I want to thank everyone for their help and support in pulling the community together to raise money for the victims.”