A campaign is underway to keep Philadelphians in town for the Democratic National Convention.
The action at the Wells Fargo Center on July 25-28 is closed to the public, but organizers will hold a food-truck festival, happy-hour events, watch parties, and deals at local restaurants and stores - all incentives announced Wednesday to keep people here.
"We don't want people to go to the Jersey Shore, we don't want people to go to the mountains. This is not the pope," Mayor Kenney said. "This is going to be history in the making. It's going to be a tremendous event for the city."
With not-so-distant memories of the ghost town Philadelphia became in the days leading up to the September papal visit, the DNC Host Committee on Wednesday launched a "You don't want to miss this!" campaign to drum up excitement at the local level.
Kenney said he'd already persuaded one woman he met in South Philly on Wednesday to stick around for the festivities and hoped other residents would act as ambassadors. Go up to lanyard-wearing delegates, he said, and introduce yourself.
"It's really, really important that people stay home, show off Philadelphia, be friendly to the delegates, interact with people at Reading Terminal Market, on the street . . . and really sell Philadelphia," Kenney said.
In addition to the previously announced PoliticalFest at the National Constitution Center and seven area museums, the DNC Host Committee will also offer Philly Feast, United We Eat, a night market food-truck festival Monday, July 25. A Center City Sips event on Wednesday, July 27, aims to bring together residents and delegates for happy hour at Dilworth Plaza, Comcast Plaza, and Center Square.
Citywide, restaurants and shops will offer DNC deals posted on Twitter with the hashtag #dncdeals. Some restaurants will offer "blue plate specials," late-night food options for $20.16 featuring different presidents' favorite meals. Convention business largely occurs during the evening, leaving many restaurants open at normal dining hours to locals, Kenney noted.
The host committee is also working with bars and restaurants to hold watch parties each night of the convention.
Storefronts around the city will be decorated red, white, and blue, and the city skyline, Boathouse Row, the Avenue of the Arts, and several Center City buildings will glow blue for Democrats.
In the weeks before Pope Francis visited, city officials launched an "I'll Be There Campaign!" to entice businesses to stay open and Philadelphians to stay put.
More than one million people attended the papal events over two days, but droves of Philadelphians fled and restaurants reported a lack of business, prompted in part by massive street closures the likes of which will not occur for the DNC, organizers have said.
Organizers said only a handful of hotel rooms remained available for the week of the convention.