The Founding Fathers sweltering in Philadelphia

In my opinion, nothing is as quintessentially summer as actors suffering in genuine period garb. You’ve seen them – petticoats, powdered wigs, buckled shoes. Let’s bear in mind, it’s summer, and they’re wearing wool layers in conditions that tend to drive the rest of us into air-conditioned dens of inactivity. The point remains, however, that enough opportunities for Betsy Ross impersonators exist in Philadelphia to warrant a visit to this city of historic notoriety. Historic Philadelphia, Inc. is an organization encouraging tourists and residents alike to experience the significant events and locations that shaped the course of our nation. With the added benefit of increased tourism and the economic stimulus which that implies, Historic Philadelphia strives to present history in a manner that is realistic and timeless. Adventure Tours cross throughout the historic district and into the surrounding suburbs, varying from walking tours to tasting menus to children’s scavenger hunts, and the 2010 summer schedule is filled like Ben Franklin’s little black book. Events run from June through October, rendering an excursion with Historic Philadelphia the perfect summer option for families, history majors, and out-of-work University of the Arts graduates eager to admire Thomas Jefferson’s method acting.

See It, Hear it, Touch It, Feel It

“After Hours” seems to be a popular theme among the various tours offered by Historic Philadelphia. A prime example is the Independence After Hours Tour, presenting participants with the opportunity to tour Independence Hall at night – the history buff’s version of playing football on Lincoln Financial Field at three in the morning. Pretty heavy. Accompanied by a bevy of Founding Fathers and Inconsequential Townspeople, the tour includes a three-course meal at the Historic City Tavern.  Equally as appealing is Valley Forge After Hours – a trip through time to June of 1778, obviously suggesting the long-awaited invention of the flux capacitor. At this emotionally and politically charged time, participants are invited to spend the evening with the cast of the Continental Army, experiencing the types of meals and conditions authentic to the eighteenth-century encampment at Valley Forge.  (And for you paranormal buffs, Valley Forge is supposed to be MEGA-haunted.)

Completely appealing for drastically different reasons is Tippler’s Tour, a historian’s version of the Erin Express – only with really good alcohol. Featuring such fun tidbits as Benjamin Franklin’s colonial drunken slang and popular drinking games, the tour stops at historic establishments along the way, constantly assuring that participants will never be without a drink in their hand for more than a few blocks.
A personal favorite is also noteworthy – namely, Turmoil and Treason: The Path to Independence. Featuring, as always, our favorite thespians in formal overcoats, the tour focuses on the political atmosphere which existed at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Much like a good legal drama, the fight for independence is presented from the point of view of both Loyalists and Patriots – no, not those Patriots.

But Wait – I’m a Breeder

You have kids? Well, good for you! You…just look at you. You with kids. That’s just great. Worried that you’ll miss out? Don’t be. Historic Philadelphia presents Colonial Kids Quest, a mystery of history for those short people in your family. Kids join the four-legged hero of the day – Freedom, the runaway dog and canine companion to Phineas Bell – in a search for the mysteriously missing Declaration of Independence. Take an hour, bond with your child, and provide them with an activity that doesn’t include several straight episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba.

We’re an obese city – it wouldn’t hurt some of us to get out and take a walking tour. Historic Philadelphia, Inc. Adventure Tours – check them out for summer activities that don’t include urine-saturated public swimming pools, sunburned barbeques, or rubbery hot-dogs and coleslaw with too much vinegar. Why not, you know, learn something instead?

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