Philadelphia rolls out the DNC welcome mat

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The political “party” has begun.  The city of Philadelphia is rolling out the welcome mat for the thousand of visitors expected to flood into town for the Democratic National Convention starting this weekend.
Look no further than South Broad Street.   Crews were seen sprucing up the landscaping on street corners in South Philly just blocks away from the Wells Fargo Center.  Hundreds of new DNC banners and state flags are flying on street poles.  A colorful street mural has been installed along the median and barely a lick of litter is seen on Broad St.

What a difference the DNC makes.

“All the sudden the streets are clean now” says one passerby.

Some residents were worried about the traffic and congestion. But so far they like what they are seeing.

“It’s a really good vibe. It’s not stressful, no tension, not like pope week when everything was chaotic” says one local resident.

Cheryl Paczkoski of South Philadelphia says she’s never seen her neighborhood looking so nice.

“It looks beautiful. It’s very uplifting” she said.

She says the city should take steps to keep it this way. Not just during special events.

“It’s the way Philadelphia should be. It’s the way it was at one time” Paczkoski added.

Some say the scripted convention itself is less about politics and more about the real political party.

“I think you are definitely going to see Lady Gaga, Lenny Kravitz maybe Kanye and the Kardashians” says celebrity photographer Hugh E. Dillon.

Dillon plans to be up until all hours of the night trying to capture some of the DNC night life.  Many venues are booked with big dollar private parties hosted by companies like Google and Coca Cola. He says keep your eye out for celebrity sightings.

“You are going to see them going out and about. You are going to see them shopping. You are going to see them going from one place to another place and I know you are going to see people on the street” says Dillon.

The first official party was held at Penns Landing on Thursday night where DNC volunteers dressed in blue “Ask Me” shirts were getting ready to take to the streets. More than 10,000 volunteers like Danielle Cain from Southwest Philadelphia are spending their time helping the DNC Host Committee put on a good first impression.

“Outside of it being very very hot, I hope that it’s full of fun and educatIonal.” said Cain.

Organizers say volunteers are in important part of the hospitality process. 

“They are going to be out at the hotels, out in the community in the streets answering questions for folks just being generally helpful” said Alex Styer of Bellevue Communications who is helping organize the volunteer party.

Companies like Google and Coca Cola have already reserved venues for parties estimated in the “hundreds of thousands” of dollars.  But finding a ticket to some of the parties may be the biggest challenge of the week.