press release

Parkway Pals Returns to Sister Cities Park with Free Events for Families

Giavana Suraci  
T 215.440.5516 

Fun and educational entertainment presented by Independence Blue Cross!  

PHILADELPHIA (May 2, 2023) – Spring and summer programming begins at Sister Cities Park this month with the return of Parkway Pals presented by Independence Blue Cross! On Saturday, May 20 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Center City District (CCD) will host Play Day, an official kick-off celebration with free performances, character meet-and-greets and more. 

Laughter and learning will be on display as local entertainers provide unique and engaging content for kids of all ages. From mystifying bubble magic shows and Spanish lessons to live music and storytimes, excitement can be found at every turn at no cost to families. The Play Day schedule includes:

  • 11 a.m. – Sing-a-long with host Silly Joe
  • 11:15 a.m. – Story Adventures with Thembi Palmer
  • 11:30 a.m. – Bubble Magic with George the Magician
  • 11:45 a.m. – Rock out with Music Play Patrol
  • 12 p.m. – Movement Adventures with Thembi Palmer
  • 12:15 p.m.: Bubble Magic encore
  • 12:30 p.m. – Second sing-a-long with Silly Joe
  • 12:45 p.m. – Rock out encore with Music Play Patrol
  • 1 p.m. – Travel-inspired adventures with the Geography Lady
  • 1:15 p.m. – Storytime with the Free Library of Philadelphia
  • 1:45 p.m. – Spanish stories and songs with Ana Atach
  • 2 p.m. – Butterfly release with Insectopia
  • 2:15 p.m. – Storytime with Tree House Books
  • 2:30 p.m. – Sing-a-long finale with Silly Joe
  • 11 a.m.-3 p.m. - Mask making workshop with the Philadelphia Ballet (off stage)
  • 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. – Complimentary face painting (off stage)
  • 2:30 p.m.– 3 p.m. – Meet and greet your favorite pups on patrol (off stage)

On Sunday, May 21 the Philadelphia Ballet will host a special performance in promotion of their current pop-up exhibit, which will be on display in the park beginning May 12 through May 28. The free show, which features dancers from the PBII program, and Philadelphia Public High School students participating in Philadelphia Ballet's Chorographic Mentorship Program, will begin at 4 p.m., after a costuming workshop for children that begins at 3 p.m. Attendance is free, but CCD encourages everyone to bring their own blanket or chair.

The Storytelling Through Dance: Parkway Partnerships exhibit includes an interactive video gallery. The Philadelphia Ballet partnered with arts organizations in Greater Center City to produce the project, including Creative and Performing Arts High School, Moore College of Art and Design and Philadelphia Museum of Art. The project asked young artists at those institutions to use their craft to highlight how arts and dance are connected.

The full Parkway Pals presented by Independence Blue Cross season will begin on June 13 and continue every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning through August 16.

Every week, children will learn and play outside with friends with help from neighboring institutions along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, including the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the Fabric Workshop & Museum (FWM) and the Philadelphia Ballet.

The schedule includes:


Story Art, 10:30am

The Free Library of Philadelphia brings their energetic storytime program outdoors for a morning full of movement, songs and imagination. Kids will receive a takeaway craft inspired by the day’s stories, while supplies last.


Investigation Station, 10:30 a.m.

Join the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University outside and learn more about animals, plants and bugs, and go wild with fun games, experiments and unique activities.

What We Have In Who We Are, 11:30 a.m.

How can we see art in who we are, where we are, and what we already have? Inspired by FWM’s current exhibition, Henry Taylor: Nothing Change, Nothing Strange, explore printing, painting, assemblage, collage, map making, and mending with educators from the Fabric Workshop and Museum!


Creative Movement, 10:30 a.m.
June 15 – July 20

Instructors from the Philadelphia Ballet will teach young children how to express themselves through the art of dance.

While visiting Sister Cities Park, everyone is encouraged to explore the Children’s Discovery Garden, an expansive play area that was designed to mimic Wissahickon Valley Park. It features unique equipment, like interactive water features, a climbing net and hiding nest. The Boat Pond, located within the Discovery Garden, is the perfect reprieve on a hot day. Additionally, the Earth Fountain’s 11 spouts make summertime splashing easy for kids of all ages.

The Sister Cities Café is open daily from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. The one-stop shop for coffee and takeaway fare is a great place for parents and kids to fuel up during a day of play. Right next to the Café, the Little Free Library is available for guests to borrow a book while visiting the park.

All events are weather permitting and subject to change. Parkway Pals and Play Day are presented by Independence Blue Cross. Sister Cities Park is located at 18th St. and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. For more information, visit 


Sister Cities Park was first dedicated in 1976 in recognition of Philadelphia's commitment to the international Sister Cities program. The park was redesigned and rededicated in 2012. Like the international flags that are on display along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Sister Cities Park celebrates Philadelphia's commitment to strengthening global economic ties and cultural understanding. The Sister Cities program links Philadelphia to the world by creating special relationships with eight Sister Cities and three Partnership Cities in 10 countries, which include: Florence, Italy; Tel Aviv, Israel; Torun, Poland; Tianjin, China; Incheon, Korea; Douala, Cameroon; Nizhny Novgorod, Russia; Kobe, Japan; Aix-en-Provence, France and Abruzzo, Italy. In July 2015, the German city of Frankfurt am Main also was added to the list. For more information on the program, visit

The Center City District, a private-sector organization dedicated to making Center City Philadelphia clean, safe and attractive, is committed to maintaining Center City’s competitive edge as a regional employment center, a quality place to live, and a premier regional destination for dining, shopping and cultural attractions. Find us at and on Facebook and Twitter.