Sally Malebran, who lives near the Ben Franklin Parkway, spent Sunday afternoon walking Diana, 11, and Zeus, 2, her socially outgoing basset hounds, through the opening family day of Oval+, a month-long, all-ages, pop-up place to chill on Eakins Oval.
Zeus, she said, is a social butterfly, so the kids running all over the oval and a parade of visiting pooches kept his tail wagging vigorously. "I can walk him on the Parkway for two hours," Malebran said, "and when I get back to my apartment to rest, he immediately starts whining, 'Let me go outside again.' He loves it here."
So does Malebran. "People come up to me and say hello because of the dogs," she said. "I feel happy being here."
Shaded by ancient sycamore trees, the adult crowd chilled at the beer garden while DJ Mighty Flip Side spun hip hop and soul for the "Let's Rock Recess" children's dance party in an adjoining picnic area. "No profanity, no curse words, just pure unadulterated funk," Flip Side said. "We give them the funk without the stink."
Face painter Latonia Brown, who goes by Golden Brownie, turned kids into everything from tigers to bat men, while across the oval, toddlers turned a huge sandbox into an ocean-less beach, excavating to their hearts' content with little shovels and pails, and families enjoyed nine holes of putt-putt golf.
The Oval+ is free and open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., while the beer garden is open Wednesday through Sunday evenings. On Thursday nights, DJ Mighty Flip Side brings the funk for adults. Three open-air "rooms" that glow in the dark highlight little-known Philly culture and Fairmount Park's secret creeks, and ask visitors to think about what they want their future Parkway to be.