It seems like it was just yesterday! One month ago, Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia stole the hearts and imaginations of our wonderful city. This elegant picnic popped up at Swann Memorial Fountain at Logan Circle to the surprise of 1,300 guests. With their finest whites in tow, they came from near and far to enjoy an unforgettable night of food, dancing and revelry. Now that the dust has settled and the pictures have finally stopped trending on Facebook, its time to again sit down with Co-Chair Natanya DiBona. Join Philly Loves Fun as we talk one last time about the event’s success and look ahead to the future…
PLF: WHAT WERE YOU HOPING TO ACCOMPLISH? WHAT DID YOU HOPE PARTICIPANTS WOULD TAKE FROM THE EVENT?
NATANYA: The two most amazing things about the night for me were the sense of community that was built and the appreciation of the beautiful public space. In planning Diner en Blanc it was very important for us to foster a sense of community. It isn’t just an event you go to, but it is an experience you share with everyone who attends. In the weeks leading up to the event we had social events at Williams-Sonoma, we wrote profiles of people attending or involved in the planning and we had numerous posts on our Facebook page. As people registered, they too began posting their ideas and sharing their resources, exclaiming “I found beautiful white umbrellas,” “I discovered this great handtruck” and “I just got great white shoes.” This collaboration continued on the day of the event at departure points as people offered to help each other with bags or men helped each other carry tables and it carried through to the dinner as people opened picnic baskets and shared with- and sampled from- all of the people who sat around them. It even extended to the people on the streets who weren’t attending. One man posted a blog about his adventures trying to locate us and how the tip eventually came from a man he randomly met walking his dog in a white suit who texted him the location once he got there. Many people remarked that they reconnected with old friends, but more importantly they raved that they made many new ones.
NATANYA: The 1300 guests who attended the event included people of all ages, races, nationalities and backgrounds who came together for one night to enjoy a meal in a beautiful public space. Attendees ranged from countries such as the United States, Poland, France, Russia, Australia and Great Britain, and reflected Philadelphia’s reputation as a truly international city.
PLF: HOW DID YOU AND YOUR TEAM DECIDE ON SWANN MEMORIAL FOUNTAIN AS THE SECRET LOCATION?
NATANYA: We began the search for the location with six different spots in mind. Swann Memorial Fountain at Logan Circle quickly rose to the top. Simply put, there was no other spot that could come close to matching its beauty while also paying homage to Paris and giving a 360 degree view of almost every significant landmark in Philadelphia. It was absolutely perfect because it seemed to be on practically no one’s radar. As the weeks went by and no one was guessing it, we grew giddy with the idea of showing it off in all its glory. And, in the days since the event, we pinch ourselves when we look at pictures because the spot looked more beautiful bathed in white than even we had imagined.
NATANYA: Nothing felt better than to get responses from participants that said, “Thank you for a wonderful night in Philadelphia ‒ that felt like Paris” or “I fell in love with my city all over again.” We also took a certain pride that we succeeded in building awareness of this amazing public space when The Philly Post’s HughE Dillon wrote, “I think we have a new event space that is at the center of everything.”
PLF: DID ANYTHING ABOUT THE EVENT TAKE YOU BY SURPRISE?
Natanya: The great surprise of the night for me was the romance. We knew the event had elegance, grace and wonderful food but we were blown away by how romantic it truly was. The lights, the fountain, the music… the Parisian romance was in the air and it showed. Our event couldn’t have supported Philadelphia’s “With Love” campaign any better!
NATANYA: We are absolutely planning another Diner en Blanc next year. The response to the event was so overwhelmingly positive and the City of Philadelphia was a dream to work with. In the beginning there were those who said it could never be done in Philadelphia, but from our very first conversation with the Fairmount Park Commission and the City they respected the secrecy of our event, walked us through the proper paperwork and advised us on everything needed to ensure a safe and successful event.
We have so many ideas from so many people about future locations. We also researched six different locations in preparation for this year’s event. Therefore, a lot of our work in picking next year’s location is already done …or is it?! Stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter for the first announcements, coming in early next year.
A good event always leaves them wanting more… doesn’t it!? We’re thrilled Natanya confirmed plans for the future. We’ve already started to think about future secret locations. Special thanks to Natanya for her in-depth interviews. We can’t wait to join the white party again in 2013!
Disclaimer: No monetary compensation was provided for this post. Facebook, Twitter and Google are not affiliated with this giveaway.
- Le Dîner en Blanc is coming to Philly (culturejaunt.com)
- Diner En Blanc: From Philadelphia’s Biggest Secret to Best Party of the Year (phillylovesfun.wordpress.com)
- New Contest: Win Registration to SOLD OUT Diner En Blanc (phillylovesfun.wordpress.com)
- Dîner en Blanc the Philly way (culturejaunt.com)
- Aug 23, 2012 Le Dîner en Blanc – Philadelphia 2012 (albfor.wordpress.com)
- Contest: Enter To Win Two Tickets To The Sold-Out “Diner En Blanc” Pop-Up Picnic Event, Thursday, August 23 (uwishunu.com)