After more than a year of preparation, the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection is ready to amend yet another of its monikers – from “The Cradle of Liberty” to “The Cradle of Clinton’s Candidacy” – assuming all goes according to plan at the Wells Fargo Center on July 28. Although this year, it seems nothing should be taken for granted.
A Democratic stronghold to begin with, the city will be as blue as one of Hillary Clinton’s signature pantsuits during the Democratic National Convention, when the Democratic Party will formally nominate candidates for president and vice president, as well as adopt an official party platform.
So, who will win the Democratic nomination? Clinton? Bernie Sanders? Lin-Manuel Miranda? It’s definitely one of those three, but the real question is: What can you do during the convention when you’re not, you know, at the convention?
In addition to official events overseen by the DNC’s Host Committee, there are plenty of opportunities to partake of all Philadelphia has to offer – and that don’t involve going to Pat’s, Geno’s, the Rocky statue or Independence Mall.
Based on previous multi-day events, Center City traffic is going to be horrendous. So, if you want to whiz past the gridlock, try Indego, Philadelphia’s bike-share program. Pro tip: If you see a street devoid of traffic save for black limos and SUVs, do not ride that way – the Secret Service has been known to be extremely ... let’s say “proactive” in dealing with bicyclists and pedestrians traversing cordoned-off areas.
For members of the media who are covering the chaos, you can rent a bike for a month-long unlimited membership for $12 instead of the usual $15 using the promo code DNCMedia. That may be more cost-efficient in the long run compared with the citywide $1 discount on walk-up rides for the convention, which is a one-time 30-minute trip for $4.
There will be plenty going on at the convention each night, but really, in terms of capacity, there will be about the same number of people in the arena as at your average Flyers game. And while all eyes will be on the Wells Fargo Center, plenty of opportunities outside the convention arena await the intrepid.
For example, those who enjoy sculpture al fresco may notice that Ben Franklin, Rocky and other hometown hero statues have some new company.
As written about in last month’s edition of City & State Pennsylvania, 57 Fiberglas donkeys will be dispersed around the city, each painted to represent a different convention delegation. They’re only here until Labor Day, so try to find all of them with the themed scavenger hunt
Even the city skyline will be aglow in patriotic spirit: Boathouse Row and Avenue of the Arts will be decorated in America’s colors during the convention, and several buildings will turn blue each night, including the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, Cira Centre, FMC Tower, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Macy’s and Three Logan Square.
For an interactive experience with the democratic process that doesn’t involve getting credentials, check out PoliticalFest, which will include a full-scale replica of Air Force One (pictured above). (You may remember PoliticalFest from its first incarnation during the 2000 Republican National Convention, when Hillary was a newly elected U.S. senator and Beyoncé was still fronting Destiny’s Child.) This nonpartisan festival, which runs from July 22-27, effectively combines American history, government and politics just outside the DNC gatherings. Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for children 18 and under, college students with a valid student ID and seniors 65 and up, and free for veterans and credentialed convention attendees.
One ticket gets you access to all six days of the festival, which includes interactive displays, historical spectacles and special guest appearances (no spoilers) at seven different locations: the National Constitution Center, the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the National Liberty Museum, the Philadelphia History Museum, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the Heritage Center of the Union League.
Each location will feature different exhibits and topics, such as the campaign trail, Philadelphia and the presidency, a media zone, political entertainment and areas for live performances, games and panel discussions. Essentially, this festival will give you the opportunity to experience the wonders of the DNC without actually being there.
Exhibits will be open each day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. But if you’re trying to hop from one venue to another, consider PHLASH, a bus loop that connects all seven locations, which is available for ticketholders.
The art of the deals, South Philly-style
What better way to endorse a candidate arguing for tax reform than by enjoying discounts on some of our favorite comestibles? Venues are adding a dash of red, white and, in some cases, bleu (cheese) to their menus during the convention through a clever promotion called DNC Deals, which consumers can follow along on social media with the hashtags #DNCDontMissThis
Partaking in the $20.16 meal deals are places like The Olde Bar, which offers a lump crab BLT, a crab salad comprised of hickory bacon, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, Dijon mustard and Old Bay potato chips. The Old City restaurant will also have drink specials for each night of the DNC, featuring a themed political cocktail, such as a coffee cocktail or a sherry cobbler – supposedly one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorites.
At Tinto in Rittenhouse Square, the $20.16 special includes five happy hour bar snacks all night long throughout the week, along with colonial-era beverages like
sherry and madeira.
McGillin’s Olde Ale House in Center City will feature a red, white and bleu burger – topped with roasted red peppers, caramelized onions and crumbled bleu cheese – accompanied by some patriotic drinks. The Dublin Donkey, for instance, is a mix of ginger beer and a shot of Jameson, while the Red, White and Blue cocktail combines a strawberry daiquiri, a piña colada, Blue Curaçao and rum.
Over at Passyunk Passeggiata – a weekly event that combines a farmers’ market, shopping, dining and happy hour – the East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District will host special events throughout the DNC, like at Brigantessa, which will have a special menu – and stay open until 1 a.m. – with an additional 20 percent off for delegates with credentials.
To really get in the DNC spirit, the DNC Passyunk Passeggiata Street Festival will also stay open until 1 a.m. on July 27 to extend the South Philadelphia-meets-Italian market experience, with street food, outdoor bars, vendors, live music and, of course, the farmers’ market.
Even if you’re not toasting Hillary or Bernie, there are plenty of places to watch the goings-on from afar – specifically, at the bar. (It’s your democratic right to drink during the convention, right? Especially now that the city’s drinkeries have been given the green light to stay open past their normal 2 a.m. closing time during the DNC.)
After a tour of Yards Brewing Company in Northern Liberties, you can pick up a six-pack or growler in honor of a few
of our Founding Fathers: a Thomas Jefferson ale, a Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce (made with essence of spruce tree, based on Benjamin Franklin’s recipe) and a George
If you’re not much of a theme-oriented person, plain ol’ alcohol courtesy of Center City Sips, the citywide Wednesday happy hour, will do just fine. You can’t have summertime in Philadelphia without Sips. As such, the Host Committee and Center City District are joining forces to create the largest Sips gathering ever at Dilworth Park, Comcast Center plaza and Centre Square
on July 27.
Philadelphia was one of the first cities to embrace food truck culture on a large scale, something that DNC participants can taste for themselves on July 25 at Philly Feast: United We Eat, the Night Market-style food truck festival. Trucks will fill Third and Arch streets from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with retail vendors and live music.
Shane Confectionery, the artisanal Old City candy atelier founded in 1863 and brought back to hand-crafted life by the brothers behind the equally beloved retro ice cream parlor Franklin Fountain, also put together a few clear toy candy donkeys and presidents, and more to come
leading up to the DNC.
Don’t you forget about me
Instead of the cheesy “I went to the DNC and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” souvenir, check out some other local vendors for some Philly flair – think more donkey charms, less LOVE statue paraphernalia.
Open House, a Center City boutique, keeps its products nonpartisan with an assortment of gifts, like nameplates with slogans like “Democrats Do It Better” and “Republicans Do It Better,” or bobbleheads of the Obamas, Clintons and Donald Trump. They also sell coasters and pins with themes of each party.
Duross & Langel, a Center City natural soaps, hair and skin-care producer, was an early adopter of #DNCDeals. It’s been advertising discounted products since June and will continue through the DNC, including green tea and avocado mud masks, moisturizers, vanilla body scrubs and natural bug repellent balm, to name
And if you’re willing to shell out nearly $300, Lagos, the Rittenhouse Square-based jewelry store, created donkey and elephant pendants to add to its Rare
Wonders collection. ■