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Philly folks are taking a big role in planning America's 250th birthday. Will the city rise to the occasion?

Originally published 05/28/2018

Post Date:01/14/2020

Developer/philanthropist Dan DiLella, left, and leasing-company owner/nonprofit-turnaround veteran Frank Giordano, at the new Newtown Square headquarters of DiLella's development company, Equus, decorated with wood salvaged from defunct Berks County factories. President Trump appointed Giordano to head the U.S. Semiquincennial Commission to start planning the country's 250th birthday. Giordano is executive director. They're looking for a name, and plans, and a budget. (CREDIT: Joseph N. DiStefano)

Philly folks are taking a big role in planning America's 250th birthday. Will the city rise to the occasion?

By Joseph N. DiStefano
via the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper web site

One hundred years after the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration in Independence Hall, Philadelphia threw a crowd-pleasing Centennial Exhibition, which promoted the city's fast-growing factories and put Fairmount Park on the map.

For the 150th, we hosted the Sesquicentennial. The "world's fair" was a bust; but it left us with the city's top modern attraction, the South Philly stadium district. And the Ben Franklin Bridge.

The 1976 Bicentennial brought us All-Star games and the Final Four. The public party was a bust; but the energy that went into clearing Independence Mall for it helped make Center City living fashionable again.

Now, a national group led by Philadelphians has been charged — by Congress and President Trump — with organizing projects to mark 250 years of American independence, in 2026. There's time to plan a big Philly party with a purpose, and maybe to build useful, lasting improvements. If we don't blow it.

It's the "Semiquincentennial," according to the federal law licensing the celebration, signed by President Barack Obama in 2016. (A quincentennial marks 500 years; a semi-quin is half as much.)

"We need a new name. I've been saying 'Two-fiftieth,' " says Dan DiLella, the suburban Philly developer who will chair the United States Semiquincentennial Commission, which holds its first informal meeting, to be convened at Independence Hall, later this week.

Read the entire article on the Philadelphia Inquirer web site.

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