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The Parent’s Guide to the Philly Women’s March

Going to Saturday's march — or trying to steer clear? Here's what you need to know.

A year after women’s marches around the country drew huge crowds of pussy hat-wearing protesters, the second annual Women’s March on Philadelphia is happening Saturday, January 20, 2018.


This year’s march is scheduled to begin at 10:30 am. Marchers will gather at Aviator Park, then March from Logan Square to Eakins Oval, where there will be speakers and performances beginning at noon. The march is supposed to end at 3 pm.


Organizer are asking anyone who plans to attend to reserve a free ticket so they can help police and transit officials plan for the crowd. More than 13,000 people have said on Facebook that they’re going, and another 40,000 have expressed interest in the event.


Philadelphia’s march is one of many around the country, including Washington, DC. This year’s marches are part anniversary — last year’s events drew enormous, energized crowds that stunned even the organizers — and part protest. The theme of this year’s Philadelphia march is “We Resist. We Persist. We Rise.”


Among the 12 scheduled speakers — chosen from nearly 150 applications — are Vashti Bandy, a member of the Tuesdays with Toomey protest group; Daejah Vaughn, a 15-year-old spoken-word poet; and Pauline Thompson Guerin, a  member of Philadelphia Veterans for Organization.


If you’re going, and especially if you’re bringing your children, it’s smart to plan ahead to avoid headaches during the event. Here are some key things to know, or think about, to make your experience as safe and comfortable as possible.


How do I get there? If you’re coming from outside the city, public transit is probably a wise move. Take SEPTA Regional Rail to Suburban Station, come out at the 17th and JFK Boulevard exit, and then walk to the Aviator Park assembly area, at 20th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The city is putting in security measures to control the crowd, so you can enter the park at 18th Street and the Parkway, 20th and Race streets, and 20th and Vine streets.


If you just want to go to the rally, you can get into Eakins Oval in these spots: 22nd Street and the Parkway (north and south sides); Pennsylvania Avenue and Spring Garden Street; 25th Street and Kelly Drive; and the south side of the Oval, near 24th Street.


Where are the bathrooms? Organizers said there will be portable bathrooms at Logan Square and the Eakins Oval, but these may be limited and aren’t ideal if you’re traveling with kids. Do some research to see what stores and restaurants are around where you’ll be. Though packing snacks is important, be sure to give local businesses your support if you do use their bathroom. Grab a snack, lunch, or drink on your way out. If you’re coming in through Suburban Station, the station itself and the surrounding area are good places for a snack and bathroom break before making your way to the march.


Where can I nurse my baby? Nurse wherever you feel comfortable doing it, of course. But if you need privacy (or just a break from the crowd), there will be a nursing area; keep an eye on the march’s website for details.


What should I wear? Comfy shoes are essential. Check the weather before you go; the current forecast is for a high of 55 degrees on Saturday, so long sleeves and layers will be important. A light jacket and/or a hoodie you can peel off and wrap around your waist should suffice. If you’ll be with kids, make sure they’re layered, too. And strongly consider babywearing — strollers are allowed, but will probably be difficult to manage in the crowd.


What’s my group’s plan? Make sure everyone knows each other. More importantly, make sure everyone knows the children you are bringing: names, birthdays, parents’ names, what they are wearing, and phone numbers. Take pictures of your children before you go. If they get lost, you can show people what they are wearing. Pick a meeting point in case you’re separated, and don’t pick the Art Museum steps — everyone else will, too. Try the Rodin Square Whole Foods, or the art museum’s Perelman Building, which are slightly off the beaten path.


Explain to your children that it will be very crowded and they should hold on to you or someone with you at all times. Should they get lost, make sure they know to approach a police officer and have them contact you. While putting your contact information in your child’s backpack is a great idea, make sure it’s somewhere visible, too. A badge around their neck, or even your phone number written on their arm in marker, is a smart move for an event like this.


What can I bring? The city is discouraging bags and backpacks since all bags will be searched at the security checkpoints. But if you’re traveling with kids, you’ll need a bag, so use your best judgment — and pack as little as possible! Make sure kids have emergency contact information with them in case anyone gets lost. For smaller children, bring earplugs, in case it gets too loud.


Can I bring a sign? Yes. Whether your child is old enough to comprehend what’s taking place, or they just love arts and crafts, it’s a good excuse break out the supplies and create a sign together. Just don’t attach it to a post or a pole, which isn’t allowed this year.


Why am I going? If you’ve decided to attend the march, and bring your kids, talk to them about it. They may get the spectacle, but not fully understand the reasons for it. Tell them why you feel the march is important, how they can benefit from it, and what you hope they learn from it.


What if I have other questions? The march’s website has FAQs and information on accessibility.


How do I avoid the whole thing? If you’re not interested in the march, take the same approach you would on a weekend day when there’s a big race or fundraising walk around the art museum. Away from the area around the march, city life should be largely unaffected. In other words, this isn’t the pope’s visit, or even the Democratic National Convention.



Photograph by iStock.

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