Diner En Blanc’s Philadelphia debut was a shining example of why we started Philly Loves Fun. Our city is full of great food, interesting people, fun adventures and inspired events. Diner En Blanc combined the best of all worlds into one amazing evening that was nothing short of remarkable.
The Swann Memorial Fountain at Logan Circle was the final destination for 1,300 guests that waited in anticipation for months. Despite heavy interest from the media (and blogs like ours), organizers kept quiet on the interesting space. It was well worth the wait!
Located in the heart of the cultural center of the city, The Swann Memorial Fountain provided 360 degree views of Philadelphia’s most iconic and historic landmarks – Philadelphia City Hall, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Franklin Institute, The Academy of Natural Sciences and The Philadelphia Public Library. Better yet, it’s located on the Ben Franklin Parkway which was designed in 1917 by French urban planner, Jacques Gréber, to emulate the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Oh la la, the French connection!
When the first guests started arriving, there was an overwhelming sense of pure amazement, delight and joy on their faces. It seems as though no one in the entire city (that we know of) guessed that this spot would play host for the evening. One by one, groups clad in their finest and most fashionable whites transformed this very public space with tables, chairs, linens, fine foods, drinks and amazing chatter. The scene unfolding is what we called “dinner as art.” It was amazing to see the canvas be painted before our eyes as each group entered from a different intersection. With a sense of direction and purpose, the groups one by one populated their lanes and unfurled their picnic setups around the Fountain. The beautiful green and concrete circle transformed before our eyes into a glowing white masterpiece. From the media area, I could actually see several journalists and volunteers get overwhelmed by the scene unfolding in front of them.
As participants completed their setups we started to spy everything from casual picnic snacks to eats from the city’s five-star restaurants. As soon as food hit the tables it was time for the official start of dinner. While napkin waving didn’t sound all that exciting before, it ended up being our single favorite moment of the night. All guests had stopped fussing with their setups. They stopped their friendly conversation. They even put down the aged cheese they were sneaking in early. In what seemed like a string of lights going off on a Christmas tree, the guests’ faces beamed with excitement and joy to be standing in our city — in this spot — for the debut of this global event.
As the napkins took to the air, we spotted a diverse group of tables to our left. In silence, they started to wave from their seats with mild enthusiasm. They then stood up and waved even higher in the air. Next thing you know, they were on their chairs roaring with excitement. It was a moment to bask in the success of finding everything on the extensive shopping list. It was the time to move past the formality of the rules and procedures. It was a moment to be proud of themselves and their amazing city. One by one, table by table, group by group, and row by row, this enthusiasm radiated at lightning speed around the Circle. Dinner was served!
During the dinner, we walked around and spotted the fun table settings that guests brought with them. We won’t lie when we say, “Wow.” Simply, wow. While we found many unique, interesting and surprising selections, we were more blown away by the attention to detail that the guests showed, as well as their willingness to buy and transport these items ON FOOT to an unknown location. It truly was a labor of love for some folks! For others, it was just part of the “Philly fun!”
The festivities kicked into high gear as the night went on with live music, lighting of the sparklers and dancing around (and in!) the Fountain. As effortlessly as they arrived, the guests quickly departed. We were one of the last bloggers at the event, and it was amazing to see that the Circle was returned to its natural state of beauty. It was truly a green event, indeed, as no piece of paper, scrap of food or white sparkle was left to litter the public space.
Philly Loves Fun was proud to be part of this journey in white. We thank the organizers for letting us host an official contest, and we especially thank co-chair Natanya DiBona for her wonderful interviews.
COMING IN EARLY SEPTEMBER: Visit Philly Loves Fun for one last piece with Natanya as we get her take on the event and thoughts on next year. Until then, enjoy the post-event wrap up and acknowledgements on the Diner En Blanc Philadelphia blog.
Disclaimer: No monetary compensation was provided for this post. Facebook, Twitter and Google are not affiliated with any PLF giveaways.
- Dîner en Blanc the Philly way (culturejaunt.com)
- New Contest: Win Registration to SOLD OUT Diner En Blanc (phillylovesfun.wordpress.com)
- Aug 23, 2012 Le Dîner en Blanc – Philadelphia 2012 (albfor.wordpress.com)
- Global Dining Phenomenon “Diner En Blanc” Makes Its Philadelphia Debut Thursday, August 23; Reserve Your Coveted Spot Now (uwishunu.com)