Normally I try to change it up, providing a little of this and a bit of that. Instead this week, all events featured take place on Saturday, Sept. 29, and involve my favorite word – free. Here’s my recommended agenda.
1 College Day On The Parkway: the one day each year college students can visit the city’s top cultural institutions for free. Not to mention, raffle drawings reward students for visiting at least three of the 11 spots. Prizes include movie and restaurant passes and gift certificates. Be sure to turn in the raffle ticket at your last location and get it stamped at each site you visit.
Big yellow school buses shuttle students around. That way you can save up your walking energy and use it to view fascinating artwork, historical artifacts and oddities at each destination.
Area locations participating in this 10 a.m.-to-5 p.m. program are the Academy of Natural Sciences (open until 4:30 p.m.), Eastern State Penitentiary, the Fabric Workshop and Museum (open noon to 4 p.m.), the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Galleries at Moore College of Art and Design (open noon to 4 p.m.), National Constitution Center, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rodin Museum, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (open until 4:30 p.m.), and their Institute of Contemporary Art (opens at 11 a.m.).
In its 21st year, College Day has grown considerably since 1987 when only one institution, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, participated. Last year 6,000 visits were tallied.
“It is a great opportunity to reach out to the college audience and also to let them know that this entire city, with all its institutions, is really an extended learning environment,” said Adam Johnson, the staff lecturer for academic affairs with the Division of Education at the art museum.
Note: Don’t forget your Owl Card for eligibility. The Franklin Institute is not participating this year due to the final weekend of the King Tut exhibit.
2 Stop number two on your day of enjoyment is the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for the Campus Philly Kick-Off.
The seventh-annual festival is Campus Philly’s biggest event. “This is our one day to say ‘welcome back to Philly’ for some students or ‘welcome to the area’ for others,” said Michelle Freeman, senior manager of events and media programs.
Highlights of the day include the art display village, the popular TNT Red Bull Freestyle Motocross, flatland freestyle skateboarding demos, a community involvement fair with options for students eager to volunteer, vendors and giveaways. Bring cash to purchase food or goods, and come armed and ready to carry stuff home – savoring the free samples along the way.
“Our main mission is to connect college students with resources to engage them more in social, professional and community opportunities,” Freeman said about Campus Philly’s purpose and attempt to further positive area experiences aimed at keeping people in Philadelphia after graduation.
3 Once you’ve seen the eye-popping skills of the talented boarders and bikers, shift your focus to the stages. A main stage provides top billing for this free event.
The Ataris, a pop-punk band with a new darker edge, is doing the first set at 2:45 p.m. Against Me! will perform at 4 p.m., bringing their Floridian anarchist rock to Philadelphia. The headliner, Talib Kweli, begins at 5:45 p.m. He’s had six solo albums since his debut with Mos Def on the album Black Star.
Let’s not just focus on the big names: Philadelphia has a thriving music scene well-represented on the local stage each year. Jealously Curve starts things on that stage. What I love about this group is that not only do they have an attractive sound but their popularity is completely raw. The one album and EP available are self-produced – gaining sales through word of mouth, gigs they have played and the Internet.
Trouble Everyday, a self-described punk-indie-power-pop band that toured with The Killers, is second in line. Next up is a local favorite, Philadelphia Slick. While the group was originally small – with just turntables, a sampler and a mic – it now has 10 members, each with a different skill. More than hip-hop, rap and soul, new members have brought horns and strings. Lastly, 215 Hip Hop is presenting Beats and Rhymes, a group of talented producers and hosts bringing you fresh Philly sounds.
Local DJs will be spinning between gigs, offering electronic beats and a dance area “so different break dancers can showcase their skills,” Freeman said.
Colleen Dunn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.