Saturday, December 14, 2013

Afternoon in Philly

Thanksgiving weekend Don, Ashley dashed to Philadelphia to run a quick errand. We had a two hour lag between when we dropped off the items, and when we would return to pick them up. Then we had another gap of time before going to Kev's apartment for a party.

The errand took us near Independence Hall. 

I thought about going in for a tour, especially since Ashley has never been there, but the tickets were gone for the day. We looked at the long line of people trying to see the Liberty Bell (something Ashley has done) and decided to skip that.

We walked into the Bourse expecting a bunch of shops and restaurants and, well, life. They did have some gift shops and fast food places, but nothing captured our interest.

We walked across the street and saw this sign. 

Well, actually we saw a sign on the other side of the building that was not quite as polished saying (paraphrasing): Come inside to meet a Free Quaker. Free Quaker? As opposed to a Slave Quaker? It was a bit brisk outside, and warm inside, plus it was a free program, so we went inside this National Park Service building where we met this gentleman.

During the Revolutionary War, the Free Quakers could not justify maintaining a status of pacifism while the country was fighting for independence. Between 30 and 50 men and women, including Betsy Ross, split from the other Quakers to attend meetings on 5th and Arch. After the war, the two sides merged together and by 1834 the "fighting" Quakers stopped meeting, and the building became a free library.

The gentleman at the table is part of the Once Upon a Nation storytellers that appear in Philadelphia and Valley Forge to bring history to life. Each first person storyteller we have met over the years (including Oney Judge (Martha Washington's personal servant) and Betsy Ross have been phenomenal. They are both extremely knowledgeable, have engaging personalities and make you believe you have traveled back in time with them. 

A few years ago we visiting Philly on a summer day and toured all 13 storytelling benches in 2 hours. I highly recommend a slower pace so you can enjoy each 5-minute story. We were on a mission that day.

Another time we went to Valley Forge and took their tour of 4 benches at a more relaxed pace.

The items were ready to be picked up, but it was still too early to go to the party. As we drove down Kennedy, Don realized the holiday spectacular was taking place in the Comcast Headquarters. It runs on the hour for 15 minutes. It is a lighthearted, fun show appropriate for all ages. It is shown on one of the world's highest resolution LED screens. Considering we don't even have an HD television set, this is leaps and bounds above anything we'll ever see in our home.

It is a treat when you can find high quality free entertainment in a city. To top it off, the meters were free for Thanksgiving weekend.

What free things have you found to do lately?

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