PoliticalFest Will Celebrate U.S. Political History During DNC

A weeklong festival of political history will be held at seven sites in Center City during the Democratic National Convention.

According to Ed Rendell, this summer’s celebration of political history all started because of Major League Baseball.

“In the baseball All-Star Game, it is impossible for anybody from the host city to get a ticket,” said Rendell, who was mayor when the MLB All-Star Game came to Veterans Stadium in 1996. “But Major League Baseball wanted people in the host city to feel a part of it, so they created something called FanFest. And FanFest ran at our Convention Center for seven days … and tens of thousands of people from our area came in.”

Rendell said the success of MLB FanFest — an interactive exhibit featuring hitting and pitching simulations, videos of baseball history, memorabilia sales and appearances by former baseball stars — made him realize it “would be terrific” to do the same thing for the Republican National Convention in 2000. Rendell enlisted the help of Carol Fitzgerald, and PoliticalFest was born.

For the Democratic National Convention in 2016, PoliticalFest will return to Philadelphia. Spread out over seven sites in the city, the festival celebrates American political history, government and the process of electing the president. It will run from July 22nd to the 27th.

Each of the seven sites will have different attractions.

National Constitution Center

This will be the hub of PoliticalFest. (It didn’t exist during the 2000 RNC.) The Constitution Center is already holding an exhibit, “Headed to the White House,” that allows visitors to pretend they’re running for the office. The Constitution Center will also have C-SPAN’s educational bus parked outside all day. According to Rendell, this was the highlight of PoliticalFest 2000.

Pennsylvania Convention Center

Hall F of the Convention Center will have a fuselage of Air Force One, a replica of the Oval Office and various games for children.

National Liberty Museum

This exhibit will feature the Liberty Museum’s collection of White House china, which goes back to George Washington. There will also be dresses from first ladies and First Family photo exhibits.

Philadelphia History Museum

Appropriately, the Philadelphia History Museum will focus on Philadelphia’s history with the presidency.

The Library Company

The Library Company will have photographs, writing and artifacts from its collection, as well as from partner organizations.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

The Historical Society will have its collection of the nation’s founding documents on display.

The Union League

The Union League’s Heritage Center will showcase the history of the 11 political conventions held in Philadelphia between 1848 and 2000. “This is a historic announcement,” Rendell said of the Republican Union League. “The Union League has agreed to take a donkey outside the Union League. There may be some past presidents of the Union League, and maybe some past presidents of the United States, rolling over in their graves.”

Additionally, free Phlash buses will be running between the seven sites throughout PoliticalFest. Tickets are $15 for adults; $5 for people under 19 and over 65 and college students. Admission for veterans and credentialed DNC attendees is free.

“This is a great opportunity for Philadelphia, obviously, to shine,” Mayor Jim Kenney said today at a press event for PoliticalFest. “It’s always nice to kind of re-establish and re-brand the city in front of the world. … we’ll be ready.”

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