Diner en Blanc Organizer Explains Why She Chose the Navy Yard

Photo by HughE Dillon

Photo by HughE Dillon

Besides the rain, which no one but God could have helped, the main complaint I’ve been hearing about this year’s Diner en Blanc is the location—at the Marine Parade Grounds of the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Most of the grumbling is coming from attendees who had to hop on trains and shuttles to lug their Diner gear so far south. Then there was the fact that it was raining, which didn’t mix well with the Navy Yard’s grassy fields. One participant on philly.com shared that, “Last year was great because it was dry and on pavement and now we are on the rain and on grass. … Everyone [was] sinking and heels [were] sinking into the grass and mud.”

It’s funny if you think about it, because the tables have kind of turned. In previous years, location squabbles came from non-attendees who were pissed about road closures, like in 2014 when it was smack dab in the middle of the Avenue of the Arts. You just can’t satisfy everyone. But organizers are trying.

In an email I got this afternoon, co-organizer Natanya DiBona offers up a few explanations about why the location was chosen—none of which, mind you, are that they wanted to avoid the mess of closing streets in Center City.

There’s the historical factor: “We picked the location because we really wanted to highlight the importance it played in Philadelphia’s history—at one point employing 50,000 people—and the role it is playing in shaping Philadelphia today,” she says. “It represents innovation and growth and a new way of using the space.”

DiBona has familial ties there: “Both of my grandfathers worked there and several great uncles, so it really has a history for me personally, as it does for many Philadelphians who attended the event.”

Photo by HughE Dillon

Photo by HughE Dillon

The Navy Yard added to the visual experience: “We absolutely fell in love with the buildings right on the Parade Grounds, and absolutely loved the way they looked lit up.”

And something runners will appreciate: “We had a nod to the Broad Street Run finish with a sign as people came into the Navy Yard.”

That last one could also read: “See, we’re not the only major event that takes place at the Navy Yard. Cool it, people!”

Despite the location woes, DiBona and team estimate that 4,500 showed up ready to party. You can check out our photos from the event here.