They gathered to cheer Philadelphia Gay News Publisher Mark Segal. But some also came to jeer Comcast Senior Executive Vice President David L. Cohen.
Segal was feted Wednesday by friends at the launch party for his new book, And then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality, at the Independence Visitor Center.
Outside, members of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers protested loudly, with one man shouting into a bullhorn while others passed out fliers. The union represents about 65 camera operators and technicians who went on strike two weeks ago at the Comcast-owned television station.
Cohen laughed and spread his arms wide when asked about the reception he received from the protesters.
The union's fliers accused NBC10 of skirting security rules for the recent visit by Pope Francis for the World Meeting of Families.
"I'm here for Mark Segal," Cohen said. "These guys would do better at the bargaining table than they would handing out silly fliers."
Told that Local 98 Business manager John Dougherty was already at the event, Cohen said, "He and I actually talk all the time."
Cohen and Dougherty then engaged in a lively conversation in the middle of the event.
"I get David," Dougherty said after the two split up. "David is at a different level now. His office at Comcast is so high up there that you can't even see it in a plane."
Dougherty said he has a good working relationship with Cohen and predicted that Wednesday's conversation would lead to further discussions."
No doubt. Local 98 issued a news release before the book party broke up, announcing a Thursday morning gathering at City Hall to "level serious charges against NBC10 management."
An NBC10 spokeswoman on Wednesday said the station's staff had proper credentials for the pope's visit.
"Instead of the IBEW grandstanding, it would be more productive for them to ratify our last, best and final offer that is currently in front of them so that its members can return to work under the terms of a fair contract," the spokeswoman added.