Parisian flair at the Philadelphia International Arts Festival kickoff

Sold-out crowds, including 850 guests to the gala that paid $750 a ticket, flocked to the Kimmel Center for the opening day of the Philadelphia International Arts Festival last Thursday.

The night was replete with Philadelphia Orchestra musicians, singers, Pennsylvania Ballet dancers, aerial performers, multimedia performances, light shows, clowns and men on stilts.
Chef George Perrier of Le Bec-Fin received the PIFA visionary award for the culinary arts to for “revolutionizing the city’s dining scene 40 years ago.”

In his acceptance, Perrier reminded the audience of how far the city had come. He said, “When I first opened my restaurant on Walnut Street, I had to call Mayor Goode to ask to remove the prostitutes.” He accepted the award “on behalf of all the people that have worked for me the past 40 years.”

Later in the evening, gala patrons gathered in the Kimmel lobby to watch Mayor Nutter light the 81-foot Eiffel Tower wired with 6,000 bulbs.

Ewers, whose staff “worked themselves to the bone preparing for this festival,” is already contemplating a second Philadelphia International Arts Festival. She cautioned on it happening quickly. “This festival took more than two years to plan.”

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