'GMA' shines light on Philadelphia's comeback, small businesses affected by pandemic

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- "Good Morning America" was in the birthplace of our nation to celebrate Fourth of July.

Philadelphia, the sixth largest city in the nation, is a major tourist destination for celebrating.

You can't come to Philly without eating some Crab Fries, watching the Phillies, and visiting the landmarks of American independence.

Over 40 million people a year visited Philly before the start of the pandemic.

Many of them come to iconic John's Roast Pork, run by John Bocci.

COVID decimated his business, and much of the Philly restaurants with 252 restaurants permanently closing.

"All of a sudden, we can't let people in the building because it's so small. We only were taking phone orders and it was a disaster," Bocci said.

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It took months to get permits to build an area for window service; the eatery suffered until another restaurant owner came to the rescue, helping to construct a new COVID friendly space.

Unemployment hammered Philadelphia. But while COVID forced many Philly businesses to shutter, it opened doors for others.

Former Philly trash man Terrill Haigler first posted to Instagram after angry residents complained of trash delays last summer. He shared an inside look at the everyday life of a sanitation worker.

"The pandemic added 30% more output in trash. People were just angry, they were wondering why their trash was piling up. Kids weren't able to ride bikes on the street," Haigler said.

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His posts went viral.

The 32-year-old raised $32,000 to get his fellow workers proper PPE.

Now, he's running a nonprofit Trash to Treasure, bridging the gap between the people and the workers on the frontline.

Brass band Snacktime Philly came together during the pandemic, providing some distraction during the shutdown.

"We're just trying to give back to the city that gave us so much," bandmember Sam Gellerstein said.

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Love is in the air once again in the City of Brotherly Love.

Philadelphia small business makes a comeback

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When the pandemic hit, Dr. Angela McIver's small business Trapezium Math, an after-school math club in Philadelphia, was on the verge of collapse.

The only solution was going virtual, which she didn't want to do.

"A lot of our kids served as our focus group, and they just failed, and so what we decided was that we could run a technology-free math club, online, with the only thing that we would need is a Zoom connection," McIver said.

Supplying her students with an at-home math kit full of all the materials they used to use in-person, McIver and her team were able to remotely teach what she calls joyful confidence building math.

Last summer, GMA surprised Trapezium with $10,000 which helped keep them going by retaining staff and continuing to teach students in a whole new way.

"Online learning doesn't have to be soul crushing, you know, mind-numbing for children," McIver said. "We were fortunate."

Now, the math club is reaching and enriching hundreds of students in 17 states spanning from Texas to Maine and McIver is not turning back.

"I want parents to know that you can, starting at a very early age, engage with your children in math in ways that make you feel confident," McIver said.

Trapezium Math is making all of their materials on their website portal-free for teachers until Labor Day.

Registration is now open for fall math club.
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