Ode to the City of Brotherly Love

Philadelphia. The night before The Marathon.

I am extremely proud of my wife who is running her first half (13.1!).

We thought we’d squeeze in a little sightseeing after checking into the hotel, tour Independence Hall, see the Liberty Bell, really give the kids a sense of our nation’s history.

Sounded like a great idea in theory.

So we set out walking east on Market toward City Hall. The concierge had warned us to skirt around Occupy obstructions there. (Interesting how divergent are the views on the Occupiers depending on political persuasion, geography, socioeconomic status, wind direction, hair color.)

To our delight, we stumble upon an impromptu rally befitting our location, the birthplace of our nation, freedom of speech and the right to assemble.

Occupy, Still Occupying

Teachable moment. Check.

Onward toward 5th Street. Barely across 13th Street and already signs of a mini mutiny. Shoulders begin to slump. Our pace diminishes.

Aha! The Pennsylvania Convention Center. A welcome surprise for depositing a donation of running shoes and retrieving my wife’s race packet.

Alas! A Dunkin’ Donuts rears its ugly head, nearly causing us to veer off course. Our crew, distracted, begins calling for hot chocolate and strawberry glazed.

“Let’s stay the course!” I encourage. “The Bell will be worth it. Independence Hall is where they signed the U.S. Constitution. You can tell your friends you saw it all when you study it in school.”

“But, can we get doughnuts?!?”

Temporary Waystation Before the Bell
Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania Covention Center

“Look at how many chairs are in this place!” I change the subject. “And look there, up above, those are the constellations.”

“Cool!” they say. “There’s the Big Dipper!”

Mission accomplished. Doughnut discussion averted.


As luck would have it, we find ourselves staring down a pair of gargantuan escalators.

Another doughnut-free diversion.

To hell with the Bell, the kids think to themselves. Let’s get a ridin’ those suckers. And away they fly. Maybe they’ll forget about the Dunkin’ Demon.

Fat chance.

Back on Market, en route to Liberty Bell Center, body language reveals doughnut fixation single mindedness. Shoulders are even slumpy-er, feet are dragging, further inquiry about ETA of doughnut consumption.

“Later,” I say.

“Harumphhh!” they say.

We join the line into Liberty Bell Center. It’s pretty long. One kid sheds his jacket and wants to run, lamenting leaving the football in the hotel room. The other declines the offer of a game of tag from her brother, and instead pouts about having to stand in line, about me not wanting to play Tickle Mayor, and about her mom not letting her play with her cell phone.

“Guys, this is a big deal. Do you realize what you are about to see?” I try once again to steer our focus back to the original mission.

Finally we are in. The Bell’s ahead. A few quick photos in front of the Bell. And the discussion reverts to doughnuts.Bell Shmell, Bring on the Doughnuts

They wear us down.

“OK,” we tell the kids.

And, in the blink of an eye, they find themselves seated before hot chocolates and sugary Dunkin’ goodies, their spirits soaring, and ours slightly diminished.

A local shouts at the Dunkin’ workers behind the counter. That’s our cue to make a hasty exit.

On our way out, I overhear a tourist, recently arrived from London, order a “white coffee to take away.” I interpret, “He’ll have a coffee with milk, to go.”

I think to myself how fitting, an American helping out a Brit, in the City of Brotherly Love.

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