Thank you to the 4,500 attendees who donned ponchos, toted white and clear umbrellas and brought their most positive attitudes to brave the rain on the Marine Parade Grounds at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the site of the Fourth Annual Diner en Blanc Philadelphia.
Thursday’s weather thwarted many of our plans, including using over 60 uplights designed to illuminate the trees and historic buildings along the perimeter of the grounds. The rain also caused technical difficulties which delayed Martha Graham Cracker’s performance by an hour. Thank you to the entire band for their patience and flexibility and to DJ Sabeel Chohan for starting the dancing early and keeping it going strong after!
Despite the grey skies and falling rain, we hope our passion for- and appreciation of- this year’s space radiated through! Many members of our planning team are familiar with the Navy Yard as the site of the Broad Street Run‘s Finish Line (note the sign that greeted 2,100 of the attendees who walked through the Navy Yard gates!)
Several us have friends or loved ones who work at one of the many companies that now call the Navy Yard home (from the headquarters of Urban Outfitters to GlaxoSmithKline, Tasty Baking Company and RevZilla, to name just a few) and a few of us remember childhood stories of grandparents who worked there. No matter the frame of reference, the Philadelphia Navy Yard holds an important place in the history of the city and a dynamic role in its future.
Philadelphia is the birthplace of the US Navy – President George Washington signed the Naval Act here on March 27, 1794- and where the first 6 ships were built to defend our country. The Philadelphia Navy Yard moved from its original site in the city’s Southwark neighborhood to the current site in 1876. As the buildings were constructed, they were numbered with a shield to mark their chronological order- at one point totaling 1,000 buildings.
The beautiful buildings that frame the Marine Parade Grounds are former marine barracks; Building 101, built in 1911 and Building 100, built in 1901 and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Other buildings inhabited by Urban Outfitters range from some of the Navy Yard’s oldest (3, 7, 12, 15) to building 543, which holds their cafeteria, café, fitness center and campus commons.
World War II saw the busiest years for the Philadelphia Navy yard- at one point employing over 40,000 Philadelphians, constructing 53 warships and repairing over 1,200. To keep up morale during the war years, the Philadelphia Navy Yard Development Association formed the Navy Yard Band and organized lunchtime shows, with entertainers ranging from Esther Williams to John Wayne.
Martha Graham Cracker (dressed as Marilyn Monroe- who performed many USO shows- along with her band dressed as sailors) performed “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in honor of Judy Garland, who performed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1944.
Some of our nods were subtle…
While others were a little more obvious (thank you, Roddy Caravella and the Canarsie Wobblers!).
We threw in a nod to Sailor Jerry’s naval tattoos with our own versions and “tattoo artist” on site.
We even celebrated the return of the Army-Navy Game to Philadelphia this December by sending Fox 29’s Mike Jerrick– megaphone in hand- out into the crowd to give away three sets of tickets to the game (courtesy of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau) to the most spirited couples. (This was a particularly tough task since anyone who dines and dances in the rain already has a lot of spirit!)
This year’s event, as indicated by the “Philadelphia Neighborhoods” Preview Party theme in June, was all about showing off a different part of Philadelphia, and we are so thrilled we did! Many thanks to John Grady, the President of PIDC, Amy Schultz, Jennifer Tran and the AlliedBarton team for giving us the opportunity.
Fun Fact: A tradition since 1890, the first Army-Navy game was held in Philadelphia at Franklin Field in 1899. Due to the historic nature of the city and the fact that it is approximately halfway between West Point and Annapolis, the most games (85) have been played in Philadelphia with Navy winning 43 of those games!