By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The effect of a partial shutdown of the federal government is still rippling throughout Philadelphia with the closure of Independence National Historical Park. The closure has thrown in wrench in dinner plans for 1,000 people.
“We could not believe that this was happening. We thought it might rain, but we never ever considered a government shut down.”
For the past 18 months, Mural Arts Executive Director Jane Golden and her team have worked with Parisian artists Lucy and Jorge Orta to plan 70 x 7 The Meal, a major event where more than 900 people would eat together at one long communal table stretching two blocks, with Independence Mall as the backdrop.
“The artists wanted a setting that was a quintessential American city with a view,” says Golden, “but after all that planning and months and months of events we said there was no way we were not going to do this.”
Golden and her team spent the past two days searching the city for the right place to host the historic event. And when they saw the Municipal Services Building, they found a new home.
“What’s really wonderful about this site is the view of City Hall,” says Golden, “it’s very inspiring.”
Golden says the artists and her team are working around the clock to reconfigure the communal table to fit the plaza outside of the Municipal Services Building. But the Mural Arts meal is not the only casualty.
“We probably had to cancel, maybe nine or ten permits,” says Patrick Suddath, Chief Ranger at Independence National Historical Park. He says most park staff are on furlough, which means all permit events on Independence Mall including weddings, a documentary shoot and The Meal are caput.
“The only people that are on the park now are those related to life safety or maintaining critical infrastructure,” he says.
His advice check with organizers to find out new dates or location.
For more info on What We Sow, 70 x 7 The Meal, the new location and how you can participate at home, go to www.muralarts.org