A man hugging strangers. And sometimes getting rejected. On Independence Mall. That is all.
Update (10:15 a.m.)
Independence National Historical Park–aka the Liberty Bell and friends–will re-open gradually today, according to park ranger Adam Duncan, who handles public affairs.
Yesterday (and about once a year, apparently), the New York Times profiled “up-and-coming” Fishtown. Seems they’re also taking interest in a decidedly not up-and-coming area: Old City. And this time, they don’t even pretend it’s worth checking out. See their review of the Betsy Ross house.
The great thing about government shutdowns it that they bring people together. If you go to Independence Mall today—or any day for the foreseeable future—you’ll notice large groups of people standing around on the grass, talking to one another. How nice. These are people who came for the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, or the Independence Hall Visitor Center–all of which are closed. In fact, if you want to play a sadistic parlor game, go linger by the entrances of any one of these places, wait for unsuspecting tourists to pull fruitlessly at the doors, and then–preferably leaning against a wall, with a toothpick in your mouth–say, ‘Closed, pal.’
So, you may be wondering, what does the coming government shutdown mean for Philadelphia? Well, a wide swath of federal workers will be furloughed beginning at midnight tonight, and Philly’s got quite a few of them, from Social Security Administration workers to Department of Justice employees working at the 2nd District courthouse. But while it’s unclear exactly how the shutdown will affect all those employees, there is one thing we do know for sure: All 401 U.S. National Parks will be shut down tomorrow, including Independence National Historic Park, which employs around 200 people. I.e, The freaking Liberty Bell will be closed. As will freaking Independence Hall. (Also: Valley Forge National Park.) Tourists, get ready to get your kicks by staring thoughtfully at the facade of the Second Bank of the United States.
Early this morning, a park ranger at the National Mall came across a bunch of green paint splattered on the statue and floor of the Lincoln Memorial. The memorial has been closed off, much to the chagrin of a family of tourists already at their wits’ end on Day 2 of their four-day weekend in the capital. A couple guesses as to who did it: A. The nazi officers in Life is Beautiful who cruelly spray paint a horse neon green; B. The guy who recently poured green paint on a big statue of a bear in Denver; C. The Korean War Memorial statues, bitter that no one pays any attention to them. [TPM]
Meet this badass. No, not Gen. Samuel Nicholas (pictured above), who died in 1790 in Philadelphia during a yellow fever epidemic. But Doug Thomas, the dude who impersonates him, walking around Independence Mall. Decked out in tri-corn hat, thick scarf, and green overcoat in 90-something degree heat, here’s what he told one CBS reporter: “I’ve been doing this for 18 years. You get used to it. These are all natural fibers.” He also reveals his foolproof plan for escaping the heat, natural fibers or not: “I’ve watched people walk down the street. They could walk in the shadow of a building or they could walk in the bright sunlight. They pay no attention and walk in the bright sunlight where it’s several degrees warmer.” [CBS 3]
There was a man roaming around Independence Mall yesterday who says he’s running for president in 2016 on the Patriot Party ticket. He may just be the first unofficially declared candidate in the country. He’s anti-gun, pro-peace, sometimes has sexy thoughts, but has never had sex. (Has he seen the Patriot Party platform?) Philadelphia, meet 65-year-old virgin Ed O’Donnell.
Ed was part of Occupy Philadelphia and in the shadow of Independence Hall he’s wearing shorts and a white T-shirt bearing the Chevrolet corporate logo. He gets most of his clothes secondhand. He says he runs the Winthrop Foundation, a charity that distributes, food, clothing and toiletries to the homeless in 30th Street Station, Suburban Station and Market East.
Let me amend me first sentence. There were probably plenty of people roaming around Independence Mall yesterday who say they’re running for president. But this is the guy Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky ran into. And Bykofsky, also being an eccentric Philadelphian himself, proceeded to grill the 65-year-old virgin like a real candidate, actually writing in his piece that O’Donnell “just lost my vote,” after he said something he didn’t agree with. God Bless America. [Daily News]
The U.S. Secretary of Education may be calling us out, but at least one tourist was prettttty impressed by the 4.5 tons of hoagies being scarfed on Independence Mall yesterday afternoon as part of the Welcome America Festival (That’s 9,000 pounds.)
Rachel Bobrow, from New York, was tagging along with her husband while he works in Philadelphia for the week. Overall, she was impressed with the event and the city. “I had no idea Philadelphia is so far along,” Bobrow said.
Philadelphia: That place between DC and New York where you can eat sandwiches. [Daily News]