Adding splashes of color, greenery to brighten Philly for DNC visitors

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    Democratic National Convention Chair Ed Rendell announces plans to beautify Broad Street for the convention

    Democratic National Convention Chair Ed Rendell announces plans to beautify Broad Street for the convention

    The Democratic National Convention will bring thousands of people to Philadelphia — and a bit of a facelift to Center City.

    Each night during the three-day DNC, starting at dusk, a red, white and blue display will light up the façade of City Hall’s south tower.

    Visitors and residents will also see a new mural on the median that runs down the middle of South Broad Street. The design, called “14 Movements: A Symphony in Color and Words,” includes stripes in hundreds of colors.

    The mural’s colors represent an open exchange of ideas and a “desire to be heard,” said Jane Golden, executive director of the City of Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program.

    “It’s almost like a quilt because each color is beautiful,” she said. “But together it creates a work of public art that is inspiring.”

    Mural artist Mat Tomezsko, a graduate of Temple’s University’s Tyler School of Art, worked with Philadelphia Poet Laureate Yolanda Wisher to include a sprinkling of words throughout the design.

    “We wanted to involve as many of the citizens of the Delaware Valley in getting ready for the convention,” said former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, chair of Philadelphia’s DNC Host Committee, which organized the beautification efforts.

    The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, which is planting a garden walk in Reyburn Plaza on the north side of City Hall, is installing perennials in waist-high planters on each side of Broad Street from City Hall to Race Street.

    The landscape scheme incorporates crepe myrtles and other plants that will bloom again next year, said Matt Rader, president of the horticultural society.

    “It’s very much intended as a permanent improvement and a legacy project for the meeting, it’s not a beautification just for the moment of the meeting,” Rader said.

    Former prisoners — who are participants in the horticultural society’s “Roots to Re-entry” program — will do some of the planting.

    The influx of visitors for the DNC will certainly bring crowds, perhaps some extra trash, and many people unfamiliar with the city’s layout, but Nancy Goldenberg executive director of the Center City District Foundation said Philadelphia is preparing.

    “We’re stepping up efforts for cleaning, and we’re making it a lot easier for people to find their way around town with new visible signage,” she said.

    The convention runs from July 25 to 28.

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