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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.

Organizers — and city officials — are expecting large crowds for Saturday’s Women’s March on Philadelphia. It’s a “sister march” to a big rally in Washington, also scheduled for Saturday. Like many big events, some people want to participate, while others just want to avoid the inevitable traffic jam.


If you’re going, and especially if you’re bringing your children, it’s smart to plan ahead. According to the Women’s March on Philadelphia’s website, at least 20,000 to 30,000 people are expected to be there. So make an action plan now, 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.


What’s happening? Marchers will walk from Logan Square to the Eakins Oval beginning at 10 am. The rally is scheduled to run from noon — 3 pm at the Eakins Oval, with speakers including Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, Jovida Hill, executive director of the Philadelphia Commission for Women, and a number of other activists and politicians, male and female.


How do I get there? If you’re coming from outside the city, driving in may be difficult; streets in the area will be closed or parking bans will be in effect. (Click here to see a full list of road closures and parking restrictions.)


SEPTA and PATCO aren’t planning on adding extra service; be sure to have copies of all schedules you may need to get you to/from the march. If you’re in Philly, plan to take public transportation, or walk if you’re relatively close to the march location. Cellphone service may be sketchy with so many people using it, so print out or screenshot what you need. Volunteers will be posted at Suburban Station and at 15 and 16th and Locust streets (for PATCO riders) to direct people toward the meeting points and rally. Plan to get off at a stop farther from the demonstration areas and walk. More information about getting there can be found here.


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), the Maternity Care Coalition on Hamilton Street between 20th and 21st will have its facility open for nursing moms. It’s by the Wawa and Whole Foods Market (so stock up on snacks before or after you feed your baby).


What should I wear? Comfy shoes are essential. Check the weather before you go. It’s supposed to be a high of 55 degrees, 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? There are no restrictions on bags or backpacks, but use your best judgment. Pack only what you’ll need, or you’ll end up feeling like a pack mule by lunchtime.  Every adult in your group should carry emergency contact information, some bandages or quick first aid necessities, water, snacks, and a portable phone charger. Children can carry their own backpacks with snacks and water too. Make sure they have your contact information and other emergency contact information in their backpacks. 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. There’s no restriction or size or material, but organizers are urging marchers to be civil, and mindful that families will be in the group. If you attach your sign to a post or pole, make sure it can’t be mistaken for a weapon or accidentally injure someone.


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? Ask Facebook! There are groups on Facebook that can help you answer questions and provide up to date information about the march. The Philadelphia group is here, so ask away! There’s also a parent group for the Washington march that may be able to suggest what to bring, wear, pack, etc., for children.


What if I don’t want to bring my kids? MaMa Studio in Mt Airy Village is offering free child care on Saturday  so parents can participate in the march. Pamela Rogow, director of MaMa, can provide care for children 6 months to 6 years old. She will be joined by three other adults, including a dance teacher from the studio who will lead occasional movement activities, and a professional from the health care field.  There will be arts and crafts, storytime and other activities. Space is obviously limited, so parents are required to sign up ASAP and provide lunch and snacks. For more information, contact the studio at muze@erols.com.


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.




<p>Contributing Writer</p>