A Midsummer’s Eve at the National Museum of American Jewish History

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The Young Friends of the National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) presented A Midsummer’s Eve at the museum on August 14, 2014. Over 300 people — many dressed fabulously in white, the ladies with daisy headbands — enjoyed a kosher dessert reception by Betty the Caterer
and an open bar. The even, a celebration of Tu B’Av, the Jewish holiday of love, was held in the ballroom at the NMAJH, which overlooks Independence Park. Guest mingled with other young friends, posed for photos in front of the step-and-repeat, enjoyed views from the expansive fifth floor terrace, and danced to the tunes of DJ Robbie Tronco.

Photos from the NMAJH’s Midsummer’s Eve after the jump »

2014 Philadelphia Geek Awards

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Excitement reigned on the sidewalk outside The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University on Saturday night as the 4th Annual Philadelphia Geek Awards got underway. Guests, nominees, and presenters walked the red carpet and posed for photographers before heading into the museum to enjoy the the 90-minute cocktail reception held among the many fascinating exhibits in the museum including full sized dinosaurs, fossils, live butterflies and animal dioramas. Some 400 guests were dressed in “Geek Chic” and ready to party.

The Academy staff was also circulating with live snakes, owls, lizards, and bugs, and many people — including yours truly — took #Selfies to share with the world on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (#PhillyGeekAwards). Then the moment arrived when Geekadelphia co-founder Eric Smith and editor Mikey Ilagan opened up the ceremony with witty banter and gracious appreciation of the sold-out crowd.

Throughout the 90-minute ceremony, awards were given and the audience was entertained by the humor of the presenters and winners. Those geeks are smart and funny. The after-party was held at North Bowl, and was well attended. Many of the ladies told me they were excited to take off the heels and slip into some comfortable bowling shoes.

More photos and full list of winners from the 2014 Philly Geek Awards after the jump »

Philadelphia Magazine’s Best of Philly Bash 2014

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Philadelphia magazine’s Best of Philly Bash was held last night at Citizens Bank Park. The torrential rains didn’t put a damper on the annual party which celebrates the best of the best of Philadelphia, as selected annually in the August issue of the magazine.

Each year Philly Mag chooses interesting locations for their party. This year they held it on the 200 level corridor of Citizens Bank Park, transforming the venue into a day at the beach, complete with a boardwalk and sand. Besides the delicious food and spirits served, there were fun activities, including cornhole, Jenga, checkers, a baseball throw and dancing to the tunes of Speaker City. There were also tours of the stadium, including the trophy room, where the 2008 Phillies Championship trophy is kept.

To top off an already great night, there were fireworks!

Photos and video of the Best of Philly 2014 Party after the jump »

Shepard Fairey Afterparty at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

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Shepard Fairey was in town last week for the dedication of Lotus Diamond, a mural he did in partnership with the Mural Arts Program on the façade of a building at 1228 Frankford Ave. in Fishtown. It’s the first of three he is doing in Philadelphia. Fairey shot to fame for the “Hope” poster he created during the 2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign. Thursday he signed bottles of Hennessy V.S Limited Edition at a private event at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and then was guest of honor at a party that evening. He even got behind the turntables at the and spun records for a bit. The dedication of the mural was Friday.

Photos of the Shepard Fairey after-party after the jump »

Alive Inside Screening for the Alzheimer’s Association

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Greater Philadelphia Film Office, Derek Freese Documentary Fund and the Alzheimer’s Association hosted a screening of the award-winning documentary Alive Inside at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts last Tuesday night.

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner was presented at a red-carpet event and there was a post cocktail party afterward. All proceeds from the event will support the Alzheimer’s Association’s Delaware Valley Chapter.

The film, which focuses on the use of music in the treatment of Alzheimer’s patients, included a post-screening Q&A with CBS3 Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl. Michael Rossato-Bennett, ‎director of Alive Inside discussed how the project came about. He also announced that a meeting with Apple was in the works in hopes of expanding the program of getting music to patients on a much broader scale.

To see how music can make a difference in an Alzheimer’s patient’s life was very moving. The music provided to the patient was specific from an era in their life. It brought them back to life, singing, humming, dancing and they were able to recall memories of a time that had seemed lost forever. It’s a must see. The hope is that one day doctors will prescribe music as part of the treatment that is currently used for Alzheimer’s patients.

Photos from the screening of Alive Inside after the jump. »

Ommegang Hop Chef 2014

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Last week at Union Transfer, the Ommegang Hop Chef Competition held its 2014 Philly event pitting the hottest Philly chefs against each other in a fierce competition to be crowned the Hop Chef Philadelphia winner. The winner will go on to represent Philadelphia at “Belgium Comes to Cooperstown 2014” August 8th and 9th for the title of Hop Chef National Champ.

Participating chefs included James Kenngott of Strangelove’s, Justin Petruce of Petruce et al, Jennifer Choplin of Dock Street Brewery, Chad Vetter of City Tap House, Jeremy Nolen of Brauhaus Schmitz, Jonathan Petruce, Ben Puchowitz of Cheu Noodle Bar, Travis Masar of Sampan and Independence Beer Garden, and Townsend Wentz of Townsend.

Each chef created a dish which was paired with an Ommegang beer. Then a panel judged their dishes based on five pairing principles. The chefs each got 10 minutes to describe their dish to the judges, and to explain why they used a particular beer for the pairing.

The judges for the competition were Caroline Hatchett of Star Chefs, Art Etchells of FooBooz, Collin Keefe of Drink Philly, Caroline Russock of City Paper, Danya Henninger of Zagat (who pulled no punches in telling a chef when something was too chewy, too salty or delicious), Top Chef winner Nick Elmi of Laurel and Carly Szkaradnick of Eater Philly.

Ommegang’s Hop Chef 2014 »

Oxford Mills Urban Oasis Grand Opening

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Oxford Mills, billed as an “urban oasis for teachers and nonprofits,” held its grand opening last week in South Kensington, another step in revitalizing the neighborhood. Oxford Mills was once a dye works factory. It was later abandoned and has now been transformed into a hub for Philadelphia’s education community. The project is a mixed-use real estate development designed to provide low-cost housing for teachers as well as commercial space for educational nonprofits.

Paul Kihn, deputy superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, told the guests, “Oxford will be a great place for teachers to bond with other like-minded teachers, discuss curriculum, vent about their day, prepare for the future, and relax. … A development such as Oxford Mills will help attract good teachers to the city as well as retain the ones we already have.”

Oxford Mills was developed by Gabe Canuso and Greg Hill, D3 Real Estate Development, and a Baltimore company, Seawall Development Company, who had created a similar project called Miller’s Court in Baltimore. The complex has 114 apartments, with half of them earmarked for teachers who will rent them at a 25 percent discount. The retail includes Artwell, Education Plus, Interfaith Center for Greater Philadelphia, Teach for America, Grace and Glory Yoga, and Gryphon Coffee Company, which are available to the residents as well as the neighborhood.

Oxford Mills Urban Oasis Grand Opening »

Mann Music Center’s Party in the Park Gala

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Wednesday night the Mann Music Center celebrated the 2014 Party in The Park Gala with musical entertainment from Diana Ross, who is on her “In The Name Of Love” tour. The evening started off with a welcoming cocktail party before the 650 guests were ushered into the dinner tent to enjoy a delicious meal prepared by Stephen Starr catering, as well as a short program. The highlight of the dinner was a tribute to outgoing board chairman Justin P. Klein. (Chris Bruner, managing partner, Ernst & Young, LLP Philadelphia, is the new board chairman as of March 1st.)

Then it was time for the Diana Ross’ concert. I photographed Miss Ross at Radio City Music Hall in 2009, where she allowed the press 45 seconds to capture her image; at the Mann that time was cut back to 0 seconds, but I was able to get a semi-bad cell phone shot. It was a shame, because she looks as beautiful and flawless as ever. Her concert was nearly 70 minutes long with no intermission, and included 5 outfit changes, (10 if you count when she would drop her big bird-feathered coats).

The best part: she had a matching fan for each of the outfits, turquoise, yellow, white, green and blue (not her signature red, though.) She was generous throughout the show and fanned her fans as well as her band. I was a little disappointed that she didn’t acknowledge she was in Philadelphia — sticking with the script — but she smiled a lot and thanked the fans in her Miss Ross way.

She opened with “I’m Coming Out” to a cheering crowd, the highlight of the night had to be her “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” that got even the people sitting in the front seats to stand and dance. She closed out the night with her anthem, adding her own touch to “I Will Survive,” and survive she has, 50 years after exploding onto the charts; Miss Ross is still going strong.

Mann Music Center’s Party in the Park Gala with Diana Ross »

Connor Barwin’s Make the World Better Foundation’s Ralph Brooks Park Fundraiser

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It was only a few weeks ago I was writing about Bud Selig’s visit to Philadelphia and his comments about the Phillies being the most philanthropic team in the MLB. The Philadelphia Eagles aren’t too shabby, either. There’s Brent Celek’s “Take Flight” Foundation for kids’ education, DeMeco Ryan’s Foundation supporting children’s healthy eating, and Todd Herremans Foundation, which raises money for various children’s charities in need.

Now Connor Barwin has started a foundation called the Make the World Better Foundation (MTWB is an acronym for his parents’ names: Margret Thomas and William Barwin). Friday night Barwin hosted a concert at Union Transfer to raise money for Ralph Brooks Park at 20th and Tasker Streets, a park in need of renovation that Barwin would pass on his bike rides to “work” from his Rittenhouse Square residence. Plans were already underway to revitalize the park; they just needed that extra push — including money to meet the goals set out by the organizations that were in place, including Urban Roots, the ACE Mentor Program, and the Philadelphia Water Department.

The major fundraiser to get them over the hurdle was held Friday night at Union Transfer where Connor Barwin hosted a VIP cocktail party were fans could meet their favorite players. Afterward there was a concert where Kurt Vile and the Violators, The Districts and The Tontons played to a sold-out crowd. The artists donated their services to the organization as did the music hall, along with all proceeds from the bar that evening. When the total is tallied, Connor Barwin is going to match it. In no time, the Ralph Brooks Park will be a safe place for kids to play again.

Connor Barwin’s Make The World Better Foundation’s Ralph Brooks Park Fundraiser »

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