Get Ready for Election Day in Philly with these Activities
Discuss this crucial election with your kids, put it in perspective, or just have some relatively light-hearted fun as you count down to November 3.
We probably don’t need to remind you, but Election Day is November 3. Whether you’re mailing your ballot in, voting early at City Hall or other satellite office, or voting in person, be sure to make a plan to make your voice heard! Once that’s taken care of, you may be looking for ways to discuss this crucial election with your kids, put it in perspective, or just have some relatively light-hearted fun as you count down the days. From art to history to cookies, we’ve got you covered.
Vote Early Circus Celebration
October 24, 1—4 pm
Circadium School of Contemporary Circus, 6452 Greene Street (Mt. Airy)
Circadium’s talented students will perform amazing circus feats and volunteers will distribute vote-early information and connect voters to vote-early resources as part of a festive (but properly socially distanced) celebration. Free refreshments and Vote Early Day swag will be available for attendees, too! This will be an outdoor, socially distanced event. Guests will be guided to a walking path, where they can explore the perimeter of Circus Campus, stopping at small performance stations along the way. Masks and social distancing will be mandatory for all guests and performers. Hand sanitizer will be provided at several stations along the pathway.
Through November 3
LOVE Park, 15th St. and JFK Blvd.
Curated by Conrad Benner of Streets Dept, “To the Polls” features six large-scale temporary mural installations at LOVE Park to inspire citizens and explore their reasons for voting. This pop-up Mural Arts Philadelphia project is on view through Election Day, and is right across from early voting site City Hall, so make it a two-for-one trip!
Through February 13, 2021
321 Chestnut St.
Through more than 75 works of art, from more than 50 local artists, “Philly’s Freedom” invites viewers on a journey to explore what freedom means and how ordinary citizens play a role in protecting our freedom and liberty. From voting to protest and beyond, the works are accompanied by various questions challenging viewers’ own ideas of liberty. The NLM just reopened—with safety protocols including social distancing and mask requirements—on October 16 to a world so different from even when they temporarily closed due to the pandemic. “From the beginning, we wanted an exhibition that represented the diverse voices of artists from across Philadelphia as it pertains to their interpretation of the concept of freedom,” says Jocelyn Beaucher, the exhibition’s co-curator. “But as we began soliciting artwork in March 2020, and the world changed with COVID-19 and then the protests around the killing of George Floyd and others, we knew the exhibition would capture a different facet of ‘freedom’ after these events. This is truly reflected in the subsequent artwork submitted. Philly’s Freedom sheds light on these artists’ lived experiences and how the nature of what it means to be ‘free’ changed for them after living through this moment in time.”
For Philly kids especially, who witnessed these events in their own backyard this summer, it is a poignant yearbook of sorts, and puts into perspective what we have been through, how far we have to go, and why we vote.
Every Election Day, Please Touch Museum offers children the opportunity to vote for their favorite toy in a cute little “voting booth,” but since the museum remains closed due to COVID-19, they are moving the vote online and getting their mascot Squiggles involved, too! Vote online for what activity you’d like to see Squiggles do, and the activity receiving the most votes will be featured in a video and shared on social media following the election.
Plus, visit PTM’s website for free Election Day Mad Libs activity, and an election-themed reading list for kids.
Available through November 3
7725 Germantown Ave.
This Chestnut Hill bakery has a fun, delicious way of celebrating Election Day in the form of “VOTE” frosted sugar cookies—just pick Red or Blue! We just had to know how it’s been going, so we asked them for an unofficial tally as of publication date. The current vote count: 256 Blue cookies sold vs. 42 Red.
525 Arch St.
Tracing the triumphs and struggles that led to the ratification of the 19th Amendment 100 years ago, this newly added exhibit features some of the many women who transformed constitutional history—including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, and Ida B. Wells—and will allow visitors to better understand the long fight for women’s suffrage. With nearly 100 original artifacts—including Lucretia Mott’s diary, a ballot box used to collect women’s votes in the late 1800s, a letter from jail written by a White House picketer, Pennsylvania’s ratification copy of the 19th Amendment, and various “Votes for Women” ephemera—explore the constitutional arguments and historical context of the fight for suffrage over 70 years.
Through April 25, 2021
101 S. Third St.
As the previous entry in this article celebrates, millions of American women were granted the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment. But over a century earlier, women and free people of color legally held the vote in New Jersey for more than thirty years… and then lost it. “When Women Lost the Vote” is an inspiring story that explores how the American Revolution shaped women’s political opportunities and activism and encourages visitors to reconsider their understanding of the timeline of women’s history in America.
Through January 3, 2021
222 N. 20th St.
Get up close and personal with life-size wax figures, including every American president (yes, all 45 of them), plus additional historical figures including Ben Franklin, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Michelle Obama. For particularly interesting figures (sorry, no one is lining up for a selfie with Millard Filmore), there are interesting tableaux to complement the experience (and your photo op). Richard Nixon is posed for his instantly-recognizable resignation speech, Herbert Hoover has a Hooverville tent behind him, and Jimmy Carter is standing next to a sold-out gas tank—the exhibit does not shy away from the fact that presidents are often divisive…and we haven’t even gotten to the 21st century yet. Towards the end, you can have a seat at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office for the ultimate portrait. The seat is empty, while Donald Trump is standing off to the side not looking particularly thrilled—you can draw your own conclusions with that one.
It is pretty sobering that 44 out of 45 presidents are white, and none are women. The exhibit seeks to balance that by putting prominent Civil Rights figures into their era (for example, Rosa Parks sits on her bus seat closest to JFK’s figure). When you are done viewing historical figures, Uncle Sam’s figure implores you to vote, and affect how these rooms will look going forward.
Photographs by Laura Swartz.