Road Trip! Destination: Philadelphia holiday-style
Individuals dressed as the jolly old man in red suits will go dashing through the streets of Philadelphia for the annual “Running of the Santas Mega Festival” on Dec. 7.
The event started in 1998, when 40 friends decided to suit up in holiday decor and go bar hopping. More than a decade-and-a-half later, the event has grown across the world with more than 20 host cities from California to New Zealand.
Organizers are predicting a record 10,000 participants.
Running of the Santas was created by Matt McDermott, 39, of Haddon Heights, N.J. Participants dress like St. Nick, Mrs. Claus, elves, Christmas trees and candy canes.
“It started as a bar crawl and fun run of about three blocks, and it just kept on attracting more and more people,” McDermott says. “It got to the point where we couldn't all fit into one place. So, we made some changes.”
Those changes include taking the show outside and adding entertainment to create Philadelphia's largest wintertime festival. There are live bands all day and night. The day starts at Finnegan's Wake, which is referred to as “The South Pole,” and ends three blocks away at the Electric Factory, which is “The North Pole.”
Grammy-nominated rock band Tonic will headline the musical performances. Costume contests will include the “Best Dressed Santa” and the memorable “Hottest Mrs. Claus” awards.
While in the city of Brotherly Love, there are plenty of things to do to celebrate the holiday season.
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7889.
Twelve Elfreth's Alley homes, glowing with holiday decorations, will open Dec. 7. Deck the Alley is traditionally the most popular event on the nation's oldest residential street. The event features carols performed by the Colonial Revelers, story-telling, a book signing by the authors of the just-released “Lost Philadelphia,” the upside-down Christmas tree and a visit from Benjamin Franklin. Tickets are $25; $15 for seniors and students; $55 for a family. Details: www.elfrethsalley.org
Another popular house tour is the Charms of Fairmont Park, which features seven historic sites that offer a glimpse into the intriguing public and private lives of prominent Philadelphians just prior to and after the American Revolution.
Through Dec. 15, tours include charms such as Strawberry Mansion, Laurel Hill, Woodford Mansion, Cedar Grove, Lemon Hill, Sweetbriar and Mt. Pleasant.
The historic house museums once served as the rural summer villas for well-to-do families during the 18th and early 19th centuries. Tickets are $41.50.
The Blue Cross RiverRink at Penn's Landing opens its 20th season with a new look that comes in the form of a pop-up holiday garden and village called Waterfront Winterfest, featuring shops, music and food. New this year is a 3-D holiday light show called Bright Lights, Big Santa that runs on the hour from 5 to 11 p.m. through Jan. 5. Details: 215-925-7465 or www.delawareriverwaterfront.com
Philadelphia Museum of Art
As one of the largest museums in the United States, the Philadelphia Museum of Art invites visitors from around the world to explore its renowned collections, acclaimed special exhibitions and enriching programs. Don't miss “Leger: Modern Art and the Metropolis” — an exhibition that will shed light on the 1920s in Paris when the great French modernist Fernand Leger (1881-1955) played a leading role in refining the practice of painting by bringing it into active engagement with the urban environment and modern mass media. It runs through Jan. 5.
Tickets are $25; $23 for seniors; $20 for students; $12 for ages 5 through 12. Details: 215-763-8100 or www.philamuseum.org
This season, Pennsylvania Ballet presents its first Nutcracker Market on Dec. 7 and 8 at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. This festive holiday market — a fundraiser for Pennsylvania Ballet and The School of Pennsylvania Ballet — will feature 50 exhibitors offering hand-crafted works such as ornaments, jewelry, photography and dance-inspired pieces. Details: www.paballet.org
Not far from the market on Broad Street, the Ritz Carlton has the Festival of Trees. A dozen stunning holiday trees will transform 10 Arts Bistro & Lounge at the hotel. The display is open Dec. 4 through 29. Each eight-foot tree is decorated and donated by a hand-picked designer or local institution. Free. Details: 215-523-8000 or www.ritzcarlton.com/philadelphia
The Liberty Bell Center
The Liberty Bell Center offers a video presentation and exhibits about the Liberty Bell, focusing on its origins and its modern-day role as an international icon of freedom. Taped presentations about history of the Liberty Bell are offered in a dozen languages. The bell weighs about 2,000 pounds and is made of 70 percent copper, 25 percent tin and small amounts of zinc, arsenic, gold and silver. It silently reminds us of the power of liberty. Admission is free. The attraction is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Details: www.nps.gov/inde/liberty-bell-center.htm
The Mummers Parade
New Year's Day is about celebrating, and there's no better place to fete than at Philadelphia's Mummers Parade, a 114-year-tradition in which 10,000 men and women dressed in colorfully lavish costumes twirl, sashay, pirouette and strut up one of the city's main streets. Tickets for the outdoor bleacher seats are $19. Details: www.mummers.com