Philly’s Bastille Day tradition goes out with a bang

For nearly a quarter century Terry McNally has played Marie Antoinette for Philadelphia’s satirical Bastille Day celebration in the city’s Fairmount section. She put her pouf wig on for the last time Saturday.

Eastern State Penitentiary, which has hosted the event outside its formidable walls in Philadelphia’s Fairmount neighborhood for 24 years, announced it would no longer produce the neighborhood celebration, citing the burden of costs.

McNally, co-owner of London Grill, started the tradition, looking for a way to drum up business during the slow summer months for her restaurant just a block from the giant stone walls of the historic prison.

For nearly a quarter century Terry McNally has played Marie Antoinette for Philadelphia's Bastille Day satirical celebration in the city's Fairmount section. She put her wig on for the last time Saturday.
For nearly a quarter century Terry McNally has played Marie Antoinette for Philadelphia’s Bastille Day satirical celebration in the city’s Fairmount section. She put her wig on for the last time Saturday.(Jonathan Wilson for WHYY)

The drag cabaret troupe The Bearded Ladies put on the satirical re-enactment of the storming of the Bastille. Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner made an appearance, joining Edith Piaf, portrayed by John Jarboe, in condemning the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Krasner dressed in a dark suit, his only nod to the day’s theme was a blue, white and red striped tie.

Jarboe made his annual rappel down the prison wall wearing a gold lame jumpsuit, wings, and golden high heels.

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