Philly’s Boathouse Row hosts 6,000 for Dîner en Blanc

Participants in Philadelphia's 8th annual Dîner en Blanc make their way down Kelly Drive past Boathouse Row. Guests came in a range of attire from understated to outrageous, but all came in white. (Jonathan Wilson for WHYY)

Participants in Philadelphia's 8th annual Dîner en Blanc make their way down Kelly Drive past Boathouse Row. Guests came in a range of attire from understated to outrageous, but all came in white. (Jonathan Wilson for WHYY)

Six thousand bons vivants made their way to Boathouse Row Thursday night to set up tables and chairs and celebrate Philadelphia’s 8th Dîner en Blanc. They came from Center City, from New York City, and from throughout the Delaware Valley.

By 6:30 p.m., thousands of celebrants in their pressed whites had gathered in the vicinity of the Art Museum. Traffic was already detoured off Kelly Drive and the location of the night’s event, which had been kept secret for months, was a secret no more.

Licha McLennan (left) and Danny McLennan head down Kelly Drive past Boathouse Row with their dining utensils, table, and dinner in tow, among 6,000 people who participated in the 8th annual Dîner en Blanc. (Jonathan Wilson for WHYY)

It has been 31 years since Le Dîner en Blanc’s inception in a park in Paris. One of 80 cities globally that hold the event, Philadelphia’s rendition was the largest in the country this year. Tickets, which ran $113 for two, quickly sold out.

Participants brought their own food, drink, seating and table settings. The event organizers provided the venue and musical entertainment, and judges awarded prizes for Most Elegant Man, Most Elegant Woman and Most Elegant Table. An auction was also held to benefit Broad Street Ministries.

Monica Thomas (right) waves her napkin along with fellow guests signaling their table settings are complete and they are ready to eat. (Jonathan Wilson for WHYY)
Center City neighbors Goldie Brown and Mark Beyerle pour champagne into glasses. (Jonathan Wilson for WHYY)
Diners (from left) Joan Hedges, Pete Marlys, and Matt Zubak enjoy drinks along the banks of the Schuylkill River, where they set up their tables for the 8th annual Dîner en Blanc. (Jonathan Wilson for WHYY)
Sicily Hill (left) and Kalitha Johnson-Hicks set up a table with a carnival theme. (Jonathan Wilson for WHYY)
At one table, dessert included rum cake, chocolate mousse and raspberry petit fours. (Jonathan Wilson for WHYY)
A fresh bouquet garnished with peacock feathers made it through the steamy heat to a table at Boathouse Row. (Jonathan Wilson for WHYY)
Dara Gans and John Marshal settle in on the banks of the Schuylkill River near Boathouse Row for the 8th annual Dîner en Blanc. (Jonathan Wilson for WHYY)
Alicia Pearson wears a crown of flowers at the 8th annual Dîner en Blanc. (Jonathan Wilson for WHYY)
Anthony Dunning and Elizabeth Ektefaei drove two and a half hours from Manhattan to participate in Philadelphia’s Dîner En Blanc. The pair had attended New York City’s Dîner En Blanc in July but the event abruptly ended less than halfway through after thunderstorms passed through the city. (Jonathan Wilson for WHYY)
Friends from Wayne and Malvern, Pennsylvania get ready for dinner. From left are Charles Cross, Greg Epps, Eric Guarino, Laurie Cross, Karen Epps and Anna Sunnergre Guarino. (Jonathan Wilson for WHYY)
Selena Roskos enjoys a drink from an oversized glass while listening to fellow guest Crystal Goodson (right). (Jonathan Wilson for WHYY)
Elaborate table decorations are part of the picture at Dîner en Blanc. Some participants competed for the most elegant table prize. (Jonathan Wilson for WHYY)

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