Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia: Navy Yard Edition

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.

Welcome to the Navy Yard

Navy Yard Front Gates, 1929


Braving the rain with a smile

Ravishing ladies in white at the Navy Yard

Ravishing ladies in white at the Navy Yard (photo credit HughE Dillon)

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!


(Photo credit Kory Aversa)

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!)

Almost there!

Almost there!

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.

The planning team's badges were based on Natanya's great uncle's Navy Yard badge

The planning team’s badges were based on Natanya’s great uncle’s Navy Yard badge

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.

Marines in Formation

Marines in Formation

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.

Building 100

Building 100

Recognize Building 101?

Recognize Building 101?

Marc Vetri’s restaurant, Lo Spiedo, is housed in Building 500 at the gates of the Navy Yard.

Lo Spiedo's entrance

Lo Spiedo’s entrance

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.


DEBPHL's hat tip to the Numbered Building SIgns

DEBPHL’s hat tip to the Numbered Building SIgns (photo credit Johanna Austin)

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.

Navy Band performing in 1941, and Mad Beatz performing in in 2015

Navy Band performing in 1941, and Mad Beatz performing in in 2015 (second photo credit Johanna Austin)

Battleship NJ

Battleship NJ

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.

Martha Graham Cracker performs for the crowd

Martha Graham Cracker performs for the crowd (photo credit Johanna Austin)

Some of our nods were subtle…

The first hint for many

The first hint for many

While others were a little more obvious (thank you, Roddy Caravella and the Canarsie Wobblers!).

Love those Wobblers!

Love those Wobblers! (photo credit Charles Mosteller)

We threw in a nod to Sailor Jerry’s naval tattoos with our own versions and “tattoo artist” on site.


(photo credit Charles Mosteller)



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!)

Some of the Most Spirited winners!

Some of the Most Spirited winners! (photo credit Kory Aversa)

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.

Harry Truman's historic toss

Harry S. Truman’s coin toss at the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia on
December 12, 1950

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!

For more information click here , or to take the Navy Yard walking tour go to this link.

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Let’s face it, when it comes to a night out in the town of Philadelphia with 4,500 of your closest friends garbed in all white, sipping and sparkling, dancing and drinking… we’re all winners. To stick with the time honored tradition, … Continue reading

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Every year, Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia, holds three contests in search for the Most Elegant Female, Most Elegant Male, and Most Elegant Table. Competition is always tough, but there are some individuals who go one step further to capture the true essence and … Continue reading

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Dîner en Blanc Contests for Most Elegant Table and Most Elegant Male and Female!

We are only days away from Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia, and we hope you are all getting ready with finalizing all of the details!

We will have two contests on the evening of August 21st. One contest will have a few judges choose the Most Elegant Table setting, while others will be walking around in search for the Most Elegant Male and Most Elegant Female of the event! Be prepared to showcase your style in your finest white, and good luck! Judges will be a wearing badge, and will be walking throughout the crowd nominating guests who capture the elegance and spirit of Dîner en Blanc. Judging is from 7:30pm until 8:30pm, and six finalists from each category will report to the media lounge area at 8:45pm where photos will be taken and prizes awarded.

Contest Prizes:

Most Elegant Table – $500 gift card to Williams-Sonoma

Most Elegant Male – $100 Gift cards to Duke and Winston, Townsend, Eviama, and one night at the Sofitel

Most Elegant Female – $100 Gift cards to Touché Accessories, Townsend, Eviama, and one night at the Sofitel

All contest winners will also receive a gift from Lillet, subscription to France Magazine, and a $25 gift card to Uber!

Here are our judges, and a few tips of what they are looking for!

Most Elegant Table judges:

IMG_3498- jeff and brendaBrenda Oliver Morgan and Jeffrey Acker, general managers of Williams-Sonoma

“I love people who think outside of the box! The unexpected!” – Brenda

Deb Carolee

Carolee Cook, Associate Store Manager of Williams-Sonoma









Courtney Lapresi, MasterChef Season 5 candidate

“The most elegant table will be the one that has been carefully decorated with attention placed on every detail. I don’t need to see bells and whistles,  I just want to see thoughtfulness and simplicity.”

DEB _ Courtney








Most Elegant Male judges:

DeB ian michael crumm Ian Michael Crumm, owner of Boy Gone Blog

“The Elegant Man needs to pay attention to detail. Maybe there’s a white silk flower lapel pin, intricate cufflinks and/or textured bow tie! Brownie points for anyone that gives Nicole a glass of rosé or champagne.”





Nicole Paloux, Owner and Creative Director of Red-Balloon Public Relations

 “I’m looking for understated elegance, and a man who knows how to wear tailored,  correctly fitted clothing. (Pro-tip: I may or may DeB Nicolenot be slightly swayed if a sharply dressed gentleman were to offer me a nice glass of rosé or champagne.)”






Sabir Peele, Owner of Men’s Style Pro Blog

“The Elegant Man shouldn’t be afraid to push the limit, but, understands that the key to any good menswear look is a proper fit. Tipping my hat to anyone that can incorporate a dope hat into a look (just saying)”

DeB Sabir









Most Elegant Female judges:

IMG_3476- vincent

Vincent Vienne, General Manager of Sofitel Philadelphia






Conni Alexandrian McDonnell, Vice President of Touché Accessories

DeB Conni








Penny Ordway, Owner of Eviama Spa

DeB Penny Ordway“The Goddess has many guises: her elegance can be wild, polished or eclectic, and 100% her own. We are going to find the woman most comfortable in her own skin: her unique elegance is second nature to her!”






Best of luck to everyone! And stay tuned to hear more tips on a future blog post from one of the judges!

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