Philly 2008: Gourmet Food, Historic Surroundings and Great Music

Philadelphia City Paper today announced the details of the evening festivities at this year’s AAN Convention, and, as always, there will be plenty to ingest, imbibe and experience as convention delegates catch up with their AAN colleagues.

On Thursday evening, June 5, City Paper, like an Italian grandmother, will welcome attendees the best way they know how — by feeding them well. But where a lesser host might pacify the guests at an opening night reception with pigs in a blanket, City Paper will provide, free of charge, more than a dozen reasons why Food & Wine called Philly “a city that inspires palates every day and brings a sense of fun to the adventure of eating out.”

Featuring food and drink from Alma de Cuba, Buddakan, Continental, El Vez, Brasserie Perrier/Le Bec Fin, Lacroix, Sonam, Pearl, Kildare’s, Park Grille, Oceanaire, John’s Water Ice and Tastykake, the “Get on Board the Love Train” party will be held at the neoclassical giant 30th Street Station, home to, among other things, Karl Bitter’s 1895 bas-relief, “Spirit of Transportation.” GPTMC, the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, is proudly sponsoring Thursday night’s reception.

On Friday night, there’s a Crawl through Northern Liberties, a neighborhood steeped in history and, more recently, hipsters. When founding father William Penn started shopping out the city of Philadelphia, he set aside a little land to hand out, free of charge, to the big spenders. Now home to a surprising number of restaurants, bars, music venues, galleries, boutiques and bowling alleys (ok, just one of those), “NoLibs” is the favorite ‘hood of Philly’s hippest denizens.

City Paper staffers and volunteers will escort convention delegates around the liberty lands. Complimentary and specially priced food, booze and all kinds of local music will guide them from stop to stop. Attendess can challenge their AAN mates to a little ten-pin at North Bowl or treat themselves to tapas at Bar Ferdinand. The best and brightest of Philly’s local music scene will be performing at venues throughout the neighborhood.

On Saturday, the closing night party will be held at the National Constitution Center. From the Center’s giant picture windows, attendees will be able to see Independence Hall, the building where the U.S. Constitution was drafted, the American Flag was designed and the Declaration of Independence was adopted on the Fourth of July. The new architecture they’ll be standing in also makes its fair share of history, serving as the site for a recent Democratic presidential debate as well as Barack Obama’s post-Jeremiah Wright race speech, and the place where the Liberty Medal has been awarded to Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan and most recently, Bono.

But AAN members attending the Constitution Center party won’t have time to just stand there staring at the Liberty Bell. They’ll be grabbing free beers and tasty hors d’oeuvres and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ben Franklin. And of course, they can ask Mr. Franklin about publishing one of the first newspapers in the country, inventing electricity, or his recent stint on The Colbert Report. Or have him introduce them to Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who will attend the party and offer some brief remarks.

In addition to the three main events, there will be plenty of afterparties, including a limited number of tickets to The Roots Family Picnic on Saturday, courtesy of City Paper. About 75 attendees will walk from the party at the Constitution Center to Festival Pier on Penn’s Landing to catch the last few hours of the outdoor concert, featuring Philly’s biggest hip-hop group and Gnarls Barkley, among others.

And more afterparties are in the works — be sure to check the Convention website for details.

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