As we planned this year’s Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia, people often remarked that the second time must be easy to plan “since you’ve already done it once.” Oh, how we wished that was true! We certainly knew a bit more on what to expect (we didn’t have to explain the concept nearly as much!) but an event that doubles in size pretty much doubles in work. So, as you may imagine, the number of people we have to thank this year has doubled as well!
Firstly, we thank the 2,500 participants who participated in this year’s event. We thank you for your passion, enthusiasm, and elegance. Together you form a community that truly makes Dîner en Blanc such a special and unique event in the City of Philadelphia.
We also wish to thank the many, many people who played a role behind-the-scenes in making the 2013 Dîner en Blanc in Philadelphia a tremendous success:
Our Amazing Volunteers
We surprise people when we mention that Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia is an entirely volunteer-run organization, from the co-hosts to the group leaders, table hosts and on-site coordinators. This event was planned and executed by individuals who are committed to bringing a unique and special event to the City of Philadelphia. Group leaders met for months plotting departure point logistics and outlining “Most Elegant” contests while Table Hosts manned white tables at PIFA, prepared displays for MyPHL and FOX in the wee hours of the morning, and posed for teaser shots at Clark Park. Each person did so with a passion and enthusiasm that knew no limits.
Communicating with 2,500 people for a month and then safely leading them to a secret location on the event day is no small feat. Our volunteers did everything from leading hundreds of people on Septa to chalking sidewalks, from zip tying signs to picking up trash, and we cannot thank our volunteers enough. When registration glitches beyond our control caused some guests to doubt, we welcomed the opportunity to show off our amazing team and we truly believe they delivered on August 22nd. Thank you to our 8 group leaders, 48 table hosts and 9 on-site coordinators:
8 Group Leaders: Kathy Gold, Megan Koehler, LeeAnne Mullins, Sabina Nicola, Thomas Price, Pierre Rives, Neil Stein and Julianne Walsh
58 Table Hosts and On-Site Volunteers: Maria Alpizar, Erica Atwood, Karen Baldry, Katie Borda, Lori Brennan, Gina Cabell, Michael Castillo, Kaitlin Devine, Sandra Donahue, Melanie Donofrio, Olivia Dreibelbis, Zac Ernst, Ashley Lauren Farnschlader, Allison Fox, Marie Fritz, Isabelle Gallicchio, Toni Gonzalez, Amelia Gorman, Mischa Greenberg, Katie Griffin, Kendall Halpern, Kat Hinkel, Carl Hunter, Sharon Johnson, Maggie Juliano, Matt Kane, Clayton LeHotan, Erica Lester, Morgan Loewith, Stormy Lundy, Chris Lupone, Norah Maxwell, Jarret Meyers, Amy Miller, Jessica Mogardo, Brian Moran, Jessica Morlock, Rachele Nicola, Sandra O’Connor, Sessalli Obasuyi, Leslie Parker, Samantha Parkes, Amanda Parlett, Brian Pedrazzani, Pat Ritter, Aubree Snader, Chloe Snyder, Rachel Starzmann, Lois & Harvey Stick, Shawn Truppo, Donna & Errett Vielehr, Lindsey Walker, Lauren Wallick, Dara Warren, Matt Westiner and Monika Zubrycka
The City of Philadelphia
As we have seen other DEB cities struggle to use public space or to work with their city officials, we are reminded again and again of how fortunate we are to be planning this event in the City of Philadelphia. Mayor Michael Nutter and his entire administration are truly committed to making Philadelphia a world class city where great things happen. In particular, we thank the Office of the City Representative, Managing Director’s Office, Streets Department, Philadelphia Police Department & Philadelphia Fire Department. Special thanks to Jazelle Jones, Mechelle Sabb, & Robert Allen in the Managing Director’s Office who helped us orchestrate city services for the event, from street closures to police to sanitation services.
A special thank you to the many organizations whose hard work goes into making the area we used- the JFK Bridge at 30th Street Station- so magical and well preserved. In particular, we thank:
- Cira Centre- Brandywine Realty Trust
- Schuylkill River Development Corporation (SRDC) & Friends of the Schuylkill Banks (FOSB)
- University City District
Kory Aversa, Aversa PR & Events
We cannot thank Kory enough for his amazing hard work and his endless promotion of our event. He lived and breathed our event for the whole year in between our two events and we benefited greatly. Anyone who has hired Kory knows he always looks for ways to increase the visibility of his clients. Dîner en Blanc was no exception. We can’t thank him enough for his passion and enthusiasm and the many, many amazing people with whom we have had the opportunity to meet as a result of Kory’s hard work.
A special thank you to Dana Sclafani and the entire staff of Aversa PR & Events for their efforts in the media area at the event. In addition to contacting and coordinating the press that day, they fielded countless questions form participants, collected numerous lost keys, hung lanterns and helped clean-up. We could not have done it without them- thank you, thank you!
Mole Street Productions, Carte Blanche & DJ Bruce
It was another great year working with Brendan Walsh and Brian LaPann of Mole Street Productions. They understand our vision and are always willing to go the extra step to make things happen for us. From finding a drum line the week before our event to assisting with sponsorships, they truly deliver a great service. Not only did they mobilize their great team to make our event sound amazing, but they also worked with the Sofitel Philadelphia to execute an amazing after party.
Our friend Nicole Paloux happened to mention Carte Blanche over lunch last fall and it just took one view of their website for us to know we had to have them at this year’s event. We quickly sent their info to Mole Street and they made it happen. Carte Blanche sounded incredible and looked positively beautiful against the backdrop of 30th Street Station. With every picture or snippet of video that features them, we have to pinch ourselves to believe the event really happened as we
envisioned it all of those months ago. We urge everyone to download their album so you can listen to them all year round!
We continue to receive rave reviews about DJ Bruce. Everyone was happy to see you return from last year’s DEB! From the Preview Party straight to the After Party, you continue to give Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia a sound that all of our participants can enjoy. Thank you, thank you.
Thank you to Beth Koenig, Adam Delosso, Jessica Mogardo and the entire team at Garces Catering for providing the Dîner en Blanc catered meals. We have heard amazing feedback and personally cannot stop raving about those cupcakes! Your food donations to our media lounge as well as your participation in our Preview Party and Pop-Up Shop were much appreciated. We are so glad you are part of our team!
A huge thank you to Bill Mignucci, President of DiBruno Brothers, for reaching out to us after our first DEB. Not only did he commend us on the 2012 event, but he enthusiastically declared that he wanted DiBruno Brothers to be involved in the next event. Since then DiBruno’s has been an amazing supporter and generously participated in our Preview Party and Pop-up Shops at Williams-Sonoma and donated to our media lounge. The cheese and charcuterie options that were available to our guests this year received great reviews (some of our friends still talk about them)! A special thank you to Keren Ini-Kates who joined the event in the middle of the planning and was such a pleasure to work with- she met every challenge with an enthusiastic “we’ll make it happen.”
To PamCakes and Galer Estate Winery for adding flavor and elegance to our Media Lounge. Thank you for your generous support, the scrumptious cupcakes, and wonderful wine.
To Sara Selepouchin Villari for her amazing drawing featured on our catering bags. You captured the many details of the event with the creative stroke of your pen. Thank you.
It stands to reason that an event with French roots should partner with a luxurious French hotel, n’est pas? We remain grateful to Vincent Vienne, General Manager of Sofitel Philadelphia, and his team for their hard work before and after the event. From sponsoring our Most Elegant woman contest and hosting Carte Blanche, to screening the WHYY Friday Arts piece and hosting both the 2012 and 2013 after parties, they have been an absolute dream to work with. Thank you!
To Jeffrey Acker and Brenda Oliver-Morgan at Williams-Sonoma at the Bellevue who once again proved to be incredible partners and tremendous supporters of Dîner en Blanc. Words cannot describe how much we adore you! We know of the many hours you spent hosting the amazing Preview Party and the Dîner en Blanc Pop-up Shop to procuring the Most Elegant prize from Williams-Sonoma, Inc. It is impossible to say thank you too many times for everything you have done. Thank you! We are already looking forward to collaborating and planning with you for 2014!
Photography & Videography
With the number of people attending this year– and the many perspectives of the space- we knew how important it was to capture each angle. We painstakingly thought about how the event should be documented and hired four immensely talented photographers: Johanna Austin, Sean Corbett, HughE Dillon and Al B For.
- Johanna Austin’s work is art personified. Her portfolio reflects her passion for performance and culture and all of her pictures for Dîner en Blanc this year exemplify this. We knew she was the perfect person to capture Carte Blanche and we can’t stop looking at her photos of 30th Street Station!
- Sean Corbett’s photographs always convey a mood and a feeling. You take one look and instantly know the entire energy of an event. We have been fortunate to have Sean telling the story of Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia from the very beginning. From teasers shots to picnic profiles and event pictures- he has given heart and soul to our event and we can’t thank him enough. Sean’s photographs represent all the moments we wanted to experience that evening but were too busy to witness in person.
- We are not alone in recognizing what a treasure HughE Dillon is in Philadelphia. His talent of telling the story of an event through word and pictures makes his PhillyChitChat column a must read after any party. We were so impressed by his photographs last year and we are very fortunate to be able to call him a friend in the year since. We thoroughly appreciate his work documenting and publishing the story of Dîner en Blanc for 2013.
- Al B. For’s pictures captivated us last year and we formally asked him to be part of the 2013 photography team. His photos capture elegance and this year certainly was no exception! Al B’s pictures demonstrate the beauty and style of our guests.
To Ed Seiders and the team of Branded Productions who filmed our official video this year. Each of us cried the first time we watched the video. It may have been tears of exhaustion from the event (since you gave us the video in less than a week!) but we’re pretty sure it was because you captured so many beautiful moments and paired them so perfectly with music. When we watched the video, we thought, “I wish I was there.” But, wait… we were there! Your video, though, made us wish we were everywhere you were (at Independence Hall, inside 30th Street Station, looking down on the site from Cira Centre, viewing the bridge lit up with sparklers). Thank you for preserving this memory for all of us so beautifully.
Most Elegant Contest Supporters
Elegance, style and grace are always on display at a Dîner en Blanc in any city you attend and this year Philadelphia really shined. Special thank you’s to:
- Our generous sponsors: Williams-Sonoma, The Sofitel, XIX Restaurant at the Bellevue, France Magazine, Boyds Philadelphia, Duke & Winston, Touché Accessories, The Barnes Foundation, and Uber Philadelphia.
- Toni Gonzalez who coordinated the judging contest. As one of our most spirited guests last year, she stood out as our top choice for this important role.
- To our esteemed judges: Vincent Vienne, Rafael Gonzalez, Susan Gish, Judy Ellis-Taylor, Ian Michael Crumm, Zoha Memari, Carolee Cook, Brenda Oliver-Morgan and Jeffrey Acker.
- To Gina Gannon for her wonderful video highlighting the contests and our judges- Jeffrey Acker, Vincent Vienne, Judy Ellis-Taylor and Ian Michael Crumm. A special thank you to Williams-Sonoma, The Shops at Liberty Place, Sofitel and XIX for generously allowing us to film at your locations.
- Congratulations again to our winners: Kelly Batt Forwood (Most Elegant Table), Mardel Cooper (Most Elegant Woman), and Garrett Olthuis (Most Elegant Man).
Those who made the day of DEB Possible
- To John Rush and Mike Kolesnik from SEPTA who were so willing to work with us to ensure safe and efficient travels for all of our participants traveling on the Market-Frankford and Regional Rail lines. Thank you also to the countless SEPTA employees that day who answered questions, held open gates and assisted passengers as they boarded trains. A special thank you to Heather Redfern who wrote a great piece describing SEPTA’s efforts the weeks before and day of the event.
- To Mike Browne of Next Century Printing who met all of our printing needs with enthusiasm and creativity. Thank you for helping craft Ben Franklin’s kite and iconic Philadelphia props for the photo booth!
- To Keith and Eileen Hollingshead who generously displayed their 1927 Rolls Royce at our event. Keeping in the period of 30th Station (built in late 1920’s to early 30’s) and the style of Carte Blanche (1920’s and 30’s jazz revivalist band) their beautiful car perfectly set the scene for our location. Your Rolls Royce added class and elegance to every photo taken that evening. It was featured in so many blogs and news articles that it should have had a press agent of its own!
- To Annie Mulligan Smith and her husband, Steve, for crafting the amazing European street sign. Next to the Rolls Royce, your sign was the second most popular spot to pose for photos! It highlighted Philadelphia as part of the group of international cities hosting this incredible event.
- Thank you to Arway Linens for, once again, adding a touch of white elegance with your linens to the Preview Party and Media Lounge. Our guests appreciated the opportunity to purchase the Tablecloth + Napkins set at the Pop-Up Shop.
- To Nadine Louw at Flowers & Company. We were introduced to her as a contestant (and first prize winner!) at the Preview Party in June and she quickly became a friend by August. Not only did she provide the flowers for both the MyPHL and Fox shoots and participate in our Pop-up Shop at Williams-Sonoma in August, but she provided the beautiful arrangements for our media area all while coordinating the flowers and tablescape for one of our three proposals that night! We are inspired by her passion and incredible creativity.
- Thank you to Mitch Gyger at Oracle Protection Services for providing the private security that evening. Thank you for your flexibility, suggestions, and friendly staff. Several guards went above and beyond their duty as they helped us with starting cars, picking up trash, and loading tables into the van.
- To Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross (aka Ralph and Linda) and ‘76 Carriage for their “historic” appearance at the 5th & Market departure point. Your outfits and customized Dîner en Blanc kite helped create a unique experience and memorable pictures for our guests.
- Thank you to David Cattai at Dino’s Party Center for fulfilling our order of hundreds of white balloons despite a national helium shortage.
- To Chessa Cahill and the staff at The Booth. We loved seeing the fun people had with your creative props in all 900 pictures!
- Thank you to Potty Queen for once again, providing clean restrooms for the comfort of our guests.
- Norris Sales Company, Inc. for working overtime to ensure the scissors lift arrived at the perfect time. Thank you for the instructions but, most of all, thank you for the beautiful view that the 25 foot lift gave us the evening of the event.
Many more very important thank you’s:
- A huge thank you must be given to those we call our “unofficial” Advisory Board: Lori Klein Brennan, Daniele Thomas Easton, Margaret Hughes, Melanie Johnson, Gary Steuer, and Jim Straw . They are esteemed members of the Philadelphia community who have offered their support, sent us emails with suggestions and connected us with numerous people in the city who have greatly helped our event in some way. They are the first to congratulate us and to offer their feedback and we can’t thank them enough.
- To Brian Cawley and the team from Lord & Taylor in Bala Cynwyd for creating a beautiful Dîner en Blanc display in their store, as well as providing the elegant white wardrobe for our volunteers at the MyPHL appearance in July.
- To Jill Scarlett and the Shops at Liberty Place for their DEB window display this summer. A special thank you to Tom Hawthorne for taking Flowers & Company’s winning table design and creating a beautiful- and much photographed- window. Thank you also to Jade Barnes for coordinating the filming of our promotional video in the space as well.
- To Touché Accessories for your encouragement and support, this year and last year. Your fascinators, gloves, and stylish accessories make it easy to add a touch of elegance to our outfits.
- To Marie Fritz who is not only an amazing Table Host, but a table decorating guru. She traveled great distances and gave countless hours of her time to create beautiful DEB tables at the PIFA street festival, Les Dames Symposium, DEB Preview Party, Bastille Day Tailgate, MyPHL shoot, DEB teaser shots, and of course at her own table on August 22nd.
- To the amazing Philadelphia organizations who have reached out to us or given the time to meet with us when we’ve contacted them: Mural Arts Program, Hidden Cities Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, The Barnes Foundation and Global Philadelphia. There exist so many amazing organizations in the city which share the same goals as our event- promoting public spaces, uniting the community, celebrating art and architecture, highlighting the power of a communal meal, etc. The City of Philadelphia is truly fortunate to have so many organizations that care so much about making our city a great place to live, work and visit.
- A very special thank you to all of the members of the press and the many, many bloggers and photographers who captured our event from start to finish. We know how fortunate we are and while we can’t begin to thank you all by name, a few highlights include:
ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PHL, WHYY for their event day coverage, Michael Klein and The Philadelphia Inquirer, Foobooz, Philadelphia Magazine, Philadelphia Style, Al Dia, Philadelphia Business Journal, Main Line Today, uwishunu, Philadelphia Life, G-Philly, Philly 360, Philly PR Girl, Philly Chit Chat, Philly Loves Fun, Hadas Kuznits at What’s Cooking on 1060, Jennifer Lewis Hall and Zach Lashway at PHL17, Mike Jerrick and the entire Good Day team at Fox29, Eater, Zagat, Marilyn Russell at BenFM, Dyana Williams and Derrick Sampson at Old School 100.3, TS Hawkins and the team at Queer 2 The T, Philly in Focus, Gina Gannon, Global Lipstick, Details, Susan Scovill and New York Social Diary, The Bicycle Chef, 22nd and Philly, Her Philly, Homemade Delish, Giggles, Gobbles and Gulps, South Philly Fashionista, CultureJaunt, GrubStreet, My Insight Magazine, A. D. Amorosi, and many, many more.
- To Philly in Focus and the team behind the Media Wall at Commerce Square who chose to show our beautiful 2012 Dîner en Blanc video (courtesy of Blossom Productions) every Wednesday throughout the summer. We cannot tell you what a joy it was to see it play and listen to people wonder out loud what kind of event this was. Philly in Focus, we absolutely love the video of the event you did this year and, Ryan McManus, seeing your timelapse video post the morning after our event brought huge smiles to our faces.
- A special thank you to Monica Rogozinski and her team at WHYY’s Friday Arts. Her “Art of Food” piece on Dîner en Blanc has truly been the gift that keeps on giving. While the piece originally aired December 2012, it continued to show on WHYY for months afterwards. Not only did the footage serve as a documentation of the planning and execution of the first event, but its beauty helped recruit enthusiastic volunteers and inspire new participants. Congratulations to you and your team for your Emmy nominations!
- To everyone who donned their red, white and blue and attended the Bastille Day event at Brandywine Polo. Thank you to the countless volunteers who made French food, brought French wine, set-up DEB tables and handed out copies of France Magazine!
- To everyone who made this year’s Preview Party a HUGE success:
- Thank you firstly to Williams-Sonoma for hosting the event and our wonderful volunteers who staffed it.
- To DJ Bruce for creating the vibe with French tunes
- To DiBruno Brothers and Garces Catering for previewing their DEB meals and to Tod Wentz from McCrossen’s Tavern who sampled French picnic food at the cooktop.
- To the eleven talented table decorating contestants: Nadine Louw and Katy Drinkwater from Flowers & Company; Corrine Sebesta Sisti from Sebesta Design; Megan Grimm & Michelle Mattus from Whitney Design Studio; Michelle Flannagan from Classic Interiors; Tanti Lina from Papertini; The Gihan Family; Sary Em from Home; Susan Dinneen from Tabledeckers; Marie Fritz; Barbara Maletsky from Chef Barbara Foods; and Denise Herker and Mallory Turner from Leigh Florist
- To our fabulous judges: Brian Cawley, Carrie Denny, Kristin Detterline, Emily Goulet, Marisa Magnatta and Nicole Paloux.
Lastly, we thank the entire team of Dîner en Blanc International: Aymeric Pasquier, Sandy Safi, Jessica Dorval and Annie Moonien. Without their help and support our event would not be possible.
Natanya DiBona & Kayli Moran
Hosts, Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia