If you love Christmas lights, one of our family’s top 10 suggestions is to visit the Franklin Square Holiday Lights show. The park’s free annual Electrical Spectacular boasts 75,000 twinkling lights. Twice every hour, at the Kite Fountain centerpiece, the park comes alive with a high-energy music show. Colorful LED lights pulse in rhythm to a soundtrack of classical and popular holiday favorites. You can drop by to enjoy the light show anytime from 4-8 pm daily and until 9 pm on weekends. Between shows, we recommend warming up with hot chocolate and fresh baked donuts at Ben’s Sweets and Treats.
It was great to see so many 3-generation families there, enjoying a night out. There were happy, excited kids wherever you looked. For a small fee, you can play Historic Philadelphia mini golf, ride the Parx Carousel or the Holiday Express train (which circles the park).
Franklin Square offers a real treat for pet parents and animal lovers –the annual Santa Paws event. You can bring your four-legged friend and get a photo with Santa. Plus, students from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts will do a free sketch of you and your pet (holiday attire optional- trust me, your pet will thank you!).
Visit the Franklin Square website for the full schedule of special holiday events through December 31.
On February 8 2018, I joined hordes of fans decked out in green to cheer on the Birds at the first Eagles Superbowl Championship Parade.
PHILLY CELEBRATES SUPERBOWL WIN
On February 4, I was impressed at how everyone in my South Philly neighborhood burst into the streets to celebrate. It was just moments after the Philadelphia Eagles whomped the Patriots 41-33 in Superbowl 52. On that frigid night, I was greeted by fireworks, cheers and car horns blaring as I steered our puppy along his nighttime walk. I had to switch up our usual route because fans were marching 4-6 abreast in the streets, chanting E -A-G-L-E-S. They were barking and howling because we were “Underdogs No More” as the local headlines proclaimed. Everyone headed to Broad Street and City Hall to celebrate into the wee hours. Despite Philly fans’ reputation, there were only a few knucklehead incidents, as Mayor Kenney dubbed them.
The city mood was joyous and festive for days afterwards, with Center City lit up in green and Thank You Eagles signs everywhere. The Flyers and 76ers caught the spirit and went on winning streaks that stretched for weeks! Bud Light stepped in to help Lineman Lane Johnson honor his promise to buy everyone in Philly a beer if they won. The marketing geniuses at Bud Light changed their slogan from Dilly Dilly to Philly Philly and emblazoned it in skywriting on parade day.
Given how superstitious Eagles fans are, I was surprised when the city set up parade route barricades a week before the Superbowl was played. The City reversed the parade route used for the 2008 Phillies Championship Parade. The Eagles 5-mile parade route started at the Link stadium, headed straight up Broad Street to City Hall, then down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to the Art Museum (Rocky steps).
I scoped out the early morning crowd levels by watching ABC 6 TV’s coverage. When I saw that die hard fans were camped out around the Art Museum for the ceremony, I headed in the opposite direction–to the parade kickoff at AT&T station. I was able to squeeze in right before 11am to catch the police motorcycle escort leading the procession.
26 PARADE BUSES
There were about 26 Eagles buses in the parade, for all the Eagles players, their families, cheerleaders and other staff. On the first bus, some guy in a black coat hopped off to shake hands and mingle with the crowd. I learned later that was Doug Pederson brandishing the Vince Lombardi trophy for fans to see!
The crowd hurled beer cans to the players who caught and chugged them on the fly, like the pros they are. I missed seeing Jason Kelce in Mummer regalia, but I caught his headline- making rant and No one likes us, we don’t care chant, watching the ceremony from the comfort of my home. Check out the photo below of the weirdest tribute attire I saw that day–Liberty Bell Eagles wear. Here’s the full parade highlights recap from Philly.com
There is no better cure for the winter blahs than the immersive sensory experience that is the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show. Where else can you be transported to Lanikai Beach or Buckingham Palace just by riding an escalator? 2017 will mark my seventh annual show visit. Here’s my Flower Show Insiders Guide, to help you navigate this huge Convention Center event.
Arrive as early as possible, wear comfortable shoes, bring a bag for giveaways and plan to spend at least four hours. Get a selfie at the sure-to-be-breathtaking entrance and then head to Miniature Settings before it gets too crowded. These are meticulously crafted landscapes that amateur gardeners spend ages creating for a shoebox-sized space. Your next stop is nearby, featuring exquisite jewelry and finely detailed “petal paintings” crafted from organic materials.
Floral Competitions & Demos
Head back toward the entrance to enjoy the multimedia performance and then take a splendor break. Enjoy a snack and find a seat at one of the program talks to people watch. Budget at least an hour to shop and see floral demonstrations in the back half of the show. If you’re a PHS Member, there’s a free lounge plus free beverages and comfortable seating for the non-shoppers to relax.
Best of Show Aisles
The rest of your schedule depends on what you fancy: bonsai, floral arrangements, topiary, best in show specimens, international design, the landscape architect’s showcase and much more.
The 2017 theme is “Holland: Flowering the World” and the show runs from March 11 to 19. You can save on the show ticket price, get free plants, attend year-round events and more by joining the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.
On January 28, 2017, my husband, son and I visited our first Philadelphia Auto Show on a whirlwind tour. One of the highlights was chatting with the proud owner of the classic Mustang Cobra beauty above. He discovered the car on the front lawn in South Philly, as an infested wreck. It was his first car rescue, yet he devoted 5 years to restoring it, down to the custom cobra upholstery detailing.
Classic Movie Cars
There was an impressive lineup of famous film cars, from Back to the Future’s DeLorean to the original Batmobile. You could sit in the driver’s seat, for $20 a photo. For Harry Potter fans, there was a replica blue Ford Anglia with the license plate MSCHFMGD.
The local Simeone Foundation Auto Museum and auto clubs had aisles of their mint condition classics on display. We met a few oddly placed celebrities. Why was Miss America handing out Jaguar posters at the British cars booth? I did get to meet and score an ice scraper from Gary Hall at ABC Action News.
Next we hit all the high end car designers who would allow riff raff like us to come close. Greg had to admire the Lamborghinis and Ferraris from the other side of velvet ropes however. You could sign up for test drives around Center City. We didn’t have the time or the nerve to try.
Drive a Jeep Indoors
On our way out, we saw a long, amusement park style line for an indoor Jeep test drive. You got to drive around a tiny obstacle course at slow speed. For Jeep drivers in training, there was a kiddie course too. That’s me in the red 2017 Miata, feeling scrunched with the seat all the way back.
This was my second year celebrating New Years Day with the full Mummers Parade experience (minus the morning alcohol). For the best views, head up Broad Street before 11 and stake out a spot on the left side near City Hall.
All in the Family
The parade features lots of marching Mummer families, with kids in matching costumes and babies in decked-out strollers. Mayor Kenney hosted voluntary Mummer sensitivity workshops, which seemed to pay off. We saw only a few obscene or politically incorrect signs. It was a welcome change from the defiant Wenches/Frogs/Chickens Lives Matter signs last year.
Wench Division & Fancy Brigade
The Wench division means guys in skirts, bonnets and umbrellas. Plus gold sprayed sneakers for footwear. It was heartening to see Mummers shake hands with cops along the parade route. Mummers were carrying an open can or flask in their other hand, but all was genial. There’s also a Comic Division, which featured tributes to Pokemon Go , Newsies? and more.
The Fancy Brigade teams (the glitzy feather/sequin types) don’t march on Broad until after they compete at a PA Convention Center in a paid admission show. It’s a multimedia, four hour dance spectacle. The sets were more elaborate than what you’d see on Broadway. For those who are patient, you can watch the Fancy Brigade show highlights for free on Channel 17 TV at 8pm on New Year’s day.
South Philly Party
By mid-afternoon, I’d had my fill of feathers and polyester, and was ready to head home. Broad Street was impassable. The big crowd pleasers, the String Band Division teams, do their competition in the afternoon. The Mummers parade winds up at the Mummers Museum on 2nd street. It was still going strong into the wee hours. Yet, the city was cleaned and back to business for those heading out on January 2.
Everyone should experience the free New Year’s Eve Fireworks extravaganza at Penns Landing at least once. The 15 minute show was one of the most spectacular displays we’ve seen.
Family Friendly Fireworks
We opted for the 6 pm, family friendly performance. There’s also the midnight ringing in fireworks. By 5:30, a good-sized crowd had staked out the best views, facing the fireworks barges on the Delaware River front. Accustomed to the aggressively jostling mobs in NY and NJ, we were pleasantly surprised by the friendly ambience. Discovered too that Philly decks out the Ben Franklin Bridge in multicolored lights for the holidays.
River Rink Action
The biggest crowd was queued up to hang out or skate at River Rink , which was ablaze with blue and gold lights. Their fire pits were tempting on that blustery night. Street vendors were doing a brisk business selling glowing light sabers and noisemakers. Two young boys near us blew a one-note version of Jingle Bells on New Year’s horns nonstop until the patriotic fanfare drowned them out.
The fireworks colors and arrays were beautifully synchronized to the music. Instead of trying to describe the show, click to see my short YouTube video with 2015 highlights. I’ve included a few photos from the 2016 show below.