Do This: First-Ever Jingle Jog Around the Historic Houses of Fairmount Park

Photo via Fairmount Park Conservancy

Photo via Fairmount Park Conservancy

And the holiday runs just keep on comin’, folks: December 6th, Fairmount Park Conservancy is hosting the first-ever jingle jog, an 8.2-mile run through Fairmount park, with pit stops at a slew of the park’s historic houses, including Strawberry Mansion, Woodford Mansion and more. Pretty neat, huh?

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Philly Historic Homes Get the Gingerbread Treatment at Shops at Liberty Place

For the fourth year in a row, the Fairmount Park Holiday Gingerbread House Display is ringing in the holiday season with gingerbread abodes. Local chefs have handcrafted 11 beautiful gingerbread mansions representing historic locations from all over the area. James Rodebaugh of Brûlée Catering, Chef Peter Scarola of R2L, and Drexel University’s Center for Hospitality all contributed works. The display is free and open to the public Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday noon-6 p.m., until November 21st at the Shops at Liberty Place.

The display (shown in the slideshow above) is a preview of the Historic Houses of Fairmount Park Holiday Tours. Visit six mansions from the 18th and 19th centuries all decked out for the holidays in grand style starting Wednesday, December 3rd. Admission to each house is $5 per person. Guided trolley tours and group tours are also available. For more information, click here.

Run Secret Trails in West Fairmount Park With New Guided Trail Runs

Photo via Fairmount Park Conservancy

Photo via Fairmount Park Conservancy

The Fairmount Park Conservancy just launched a new trail running series to showcase often overlooked—but gorgeous—running trails in West Fairmount Park.

“Our intention is to expose runners to these incredible trails because they are SO much fun to run on and also to ease some congestion on the Kelly Drive trail, which seems to get more crowded every week,” wrote Conservancy’s Sara Hirschler in an email.

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9 Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day Weekend in Philly

Can’t make it to the shore this holiday weekend? Philadelphia’s got you covered. Here, we round up seven Memorial Day Weekend events to keep your mind off the fact that you’re not splashing in the sea. 

Fairmount Park Conservancy 7th Annual Centennial Celebration

From left: Chris Matthews, MSNBC, Kathryn Ott Lovell, Michael DiBerardinis, Deputy Mayor of the Department of Parks and Recreation, and Mayor Michael Nutter.

From left: Chris Matthews, MSNBC, Kathryn Ott Lovell, Michael DiBerardinis, Deputy Mayor of the Department of Parks and Recreation, and Mayor Michael Nutter.

Thursday night at the Horticultural Center, the Fairmount Park Conservancy hosted its 7th Annual Centennial Celebration, and it attracted a record number of guests (475) as well as raising 45% more money than last year. There was a lively cocktail hour in the greenhouse, where we all enjoyed bright sunshine after 48 hours of record-breaking rain. Then everyone was ushered into a large tent to begin the dinner and a program.

The Conservancy honored three people this year including the President & CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust, Gerald Sweeney, City Council President Darrell Clarke, and Patricia Kind who was named John K. Binswanger Park Champion. Mrs. Kind wasn’t in attendance so her oldest daughter, Laura Kind McKenna, accepted on her behalf. The emcee for the evening was MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, who grew up in nearby Hunting Park and recalled childhood memories of playing in the park.

Fairmount Park Conservancy 7th Annual Centennial Celebration »

Don’t Eat the Portico Just Yet: Fairmount Park Mansions as Gingerbread Houses

Mount Pleasant created by Chef Peter Scarola of R2L.

Mount Pleasant created by Chef Peter Scarola of R2L.

Our friends over at Foobooz went over to the Shops at Liberty Place to take a look at some delicious-looking edible real estate: 13 gingerbread houses, each one a replica of a Fairmount Park historic building. Local pastry chefs served as general contractors on the home-building project, which will be on display until November 22nd, at which point we plan to rush the place and eat at least one window.

Foobooz has plenty of beautiful photos of the finished products, but below, we have a few comparison shots of the real buildings next to their sugary imitations. To see six of the actual buildings in person, check out the Historic Houses of Fairmount Park Holiday Tour (Dec. 5-15).

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The Gingerbread Mansions of Fairmount Park


From now till November 22nd, thirteen gingerbread houses representing mansions of Fairmount Park will be on display at the Shops at Liberty Place. All thirteen were created by local pastry chefs who really got into the spirit of it all, accessorizing their houses with pretzel fences, gumdrop trim and peppermint stick columns.

The gingerbread house display is a preview event for the annual Historic Houses of Fairmount Park Holiday Tour that runs from December 5 to the 15th. Six park houses will be open and decorated for the holidays. Trolley tours are available and tickets can be purchased online.

Check out the gingerbread mansions » 

Eakins Oval About To Become Philadelphia Family Fun Spot

Our friends at Foobooz have already noted the arrival of food trucks at Eakins Oval—it’s part of a broader summertime transformation of the space into a community fun spot for the summer, documented today by NewsWorks, which includes a new beach featuring 16 tons of sand:

This whole beach concept is the first iteration of a three-year plan — “The Oval” — to activate the Parkway. With help from a roster of partnering organizations, the pop-up park will be open every day until Aug. 18, when the Parkway will be given over to the Labor Day weekend “Made In America” concert preparations.

“The Oval” is not an appeal to tourists, according to Mark Focht, deputy commissioner of the parks and recreation department. Rather, it is for the estimated 70,000 residents in the Parkway’s immediate neighborhoods.

“Historically, the folks in Logan and Fairmount and Spring Garden have looked at the Parkway as the edge of their community — the end,” Focht said. “Instead we want them to see it as the common space, the common park.”

A full calendar of events at The Oval—at the museum end of the Parkway—can be found here.

Fairmount Park Conservancy the Latest Victim of William Penn Foundation Grant Suspensions

Last night, City Paper reported that the $2 billion William Penn Foundation would be suspending grants to city-related agencies indefinitely. The report identified a funding request for Bartram’s Mile, a trail extension linking the East and West banks of the Schulykill River, though it’s unclear which group applied for the grant.

Today, I learned that the Fairmount Park Conservancy also received a letter announcing that its grant application had been suspended. (FPC operates under a public-private partnership.) The proposal, submitted in late 2012, requested $75,000 for planning work in West Fairmount Park. FPC Executive Director Kathryn Ott Lovell says she’s not exactly sure where the money would have gone, except to “work with parks and rec. in the community to really think about some possible improvements to West Park.” FPC has received numerous recent grants from the William Penn Foundation, including one in 2011 for $82,500.

Still optimistic that her grant will eventually come through, Lovell stresses that she thinks the William Penn Foundation “has a great vision for parks space.”

The WPF suspended such grants in order to deal with an ethics complaint submitted by a coalition of public school advocates that charges the mega-philanthropy has violated the city’s lobbying code. (The first complaint that’s been issued under the city’s new code.) The coalition argues that by providing the Boston Consulting Group with a grant to conduct the report that led to Philadelphia’s school-closure plan, it was effectively doing BCG’s bidding to encourage the “privatization” of public schools, and thus, should have registered as a lobbyist. In order to make sure they’re in compliance with the lobbying ordinance, WPF is suspending grants that may violate it. All previously awarded grants will, however, be disbursed; this decision only affects pending and forthcoming applications.

The city, for the record, doesn’t think there’s an issue with grants like these. “We don’t see the problem with the lobbying registration and reporting ordinance [with respect to] these grant requests and grant funding the way the William Penn Foundation seems to,” said the Mayor’s press secretary Mark McDonald.

Nor does Parents United for Public Education, one of the groups that submitted a complaint, which stresses it’s never had an issue with the sort of benign grants to city agencies and public-private partnerships WPF’s been disbursing for years.

There are, of course, more groups whose requests have been put on hold, and I’ll update the item as I learn more.

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