The 2012 Philadelphia International Flower Show opens TODAY with waves of tropical fun!  This year I experienced the show from two perspectives, as a volunteer with an exhibit and as a member of the media.  From both sides of the coin, this year’s show didn’t disappoint.  Here’s a run down of my experiences and a preview of what you will see.  Enjoy! 

Thursday at the Show:  Floral Designer Extraordinaire

Last year, my friends at MODA Botanical put out a call for volunteers.  Physically handling flowers and dirt isn’t really my cup of tea.    But, all in the name of a fun and unique experience, I took the plunge.  The work was simple and easy to understand.  Our task was to put what seemed like a million (or was it two million?) roses into the tinyest little tubes you have ever seen, without knocking over the paper-thin fragile walls of the exhibit.  Tedious, but easy!  This year, when they put out their call for help I didn’t hesitate.  It was a great way to be part of the show from the inside.  Selfishly, it was also a great way to sneak a peak without the crowds.  When I arrived they had what seemed like a simple task.  Put up these ten over sized leaves onto the mesh, tube them and then decorate over them with blue branches.  While this seemed easy, my mind was racing.  From doing this before, I have a small bit of understanding of how exhibits come together, and what can go wrong with them.  (Last year, while I didn’t knock over the fragile, beautiful walls of MODA’s exhibit, a small child and a party-goer knocked over their display TWICE!)  Panic set in…What if I ripped them?  What if I put them on wrong?  What if they didn’t like where I put them?  What if I knocked over the mesh walls (…I’m not a small guy!)?  I had no idea I would be expected to be creative.  I also had no idea they would put so much trust in me.  So I set out on my work with the help of my good friend who came along to join me.  After the word “ridiculous” was dropped on me from my friend, thousands of reassuring looks from MODA staff, a few drops of sweat, and three hours of time, and I did it!  Whew.  While the exhibit was still under construction when I left, I saw the finished product during the media preview.  My work was on the back layer (pictured above to the left).

My oversize leaves would be covered with two other layers of Hawaiian plants to create a Hawaii-inspired canvas pattern.  Show spectators can even interact with the exhibit by cranking wheels on the sides to make colorful walls slide through the inside of the exhibit.   Check out the finished work in the picture above.  If you have the chance, I highly recommend volunteering to assemble a display.  Until you do, you have no idea all the time, planning, creativity and hard work that goes in to them.  You also wouldn’t have any idea how many plastic ties and tiny little tubes are involved.  (Billions?!)

Friday at the Show:  Media Preview

Friday it was time to return to the show to officially cover it for Philly Loves Fun.  The things I was watching for weren’t the largest or most beautiful flowers.  No!  This blog is about fun and unique experiences.  I had a watchful eye out for the interesting and unexpected elements that made me go “Wow!”  The show didn’t disappoint.  Immediately upon entering the show I could tell it wasn’t the same old flower show.  I was enveloped in digital cascading waves that took me the shores of Hawaii.

After I toweled off (figuratively), I was greeted by these very cool figures sporting a “Project Runway” twist.  All their colorful garbs were made entirely of living plants and flowers (pictured to the right).  After speculating what a cabana boy would like wearing this get-up, I moved on to the larger exhibits.

One of the show’s highlights (and tallest exhibits) was a massive waterfall and Tiki Hut cascaded with blue lights.  We were told that the exhibit would change colors during the actual show.  I was inspired to start looking up airfare to Hawaii on my phone, until I remember my budget.  I then moved on to the other displays, where I was greeted by fun scenes of cabanas, surf boards, sands and pools.  In many of the exhibits, I loved checking out the fun Hawaiian totem poles.  They added a special element of fun as I tried to replicate their faces for the camera.  (On days when I haven’t had my coffee I could easily rival one of their scary faces!)

The fun continued with a trip to the Lei Hut.  It wouldn’t be Hawaii unless you put on an official Lei and had your friends snap your picture!  There was also a fun picture area, where you could make funny poses in front of beach or floral backdrops.  You can even enhance your picture fun by getting yourself a tropical frozen drink to sport.  While drink stations were open during the preview, I look forward to sampling them during my return next week.  (Hopefully, they will come with little colorful umbrellas to spin around and save as a keepsake!)

She’s gonna blow!  The final thing that caught my eye during the preview was the volcano (pictured to the left).  Hot lava was created using red flowers, glass, lights and other materials.  The opening of the volcano is a great spot to sacrifice your family members — or at least grab a cool picture.

Monday – Let Them Be Gay

Monday night is LGBT Community Night at the show.  For $45 and a special ticket, the show will offer a VIP reception with cocktails and food.  LGBT guests can also come support the show with a regular ticket which includes simple admission to the show.  I will be at the VIP reception and check out the show with my friends.  It will be interesting to see the finished pieces.  I look forward to a Pina Colada and more fun picture taking!  Follow me on Twitter Monday night for updates, or better yet, come to the show and Tweet too!  (Maybe we can meet up!)

For tickets and event information, visit the official Flower Show page.   See you at the show!

Disclaimer:  This post and contest is brought to you with support of the Philadelphia International Flower Show – special thanks to them for the free tickets for our giveaway! Find them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.  

About Philly Loves Fun

A blog about Philadelphia's fun and unique adventures, arts, events, food and opportunities.

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