A popular summer program that transforms Eakins Oval into a place for pedestrians to run, bike, and enjoy outdoor art, is expanding this summer and spilling out into the Parkway.
The project—dubbed “Oval+”—runs for four weeks, from July 20 to August 19, at Eakins Oval in front of the Art Museum.
“For six years now, the Oval has grown to become a meeting place for all Philadelphians during the summer to watch a movie, grab a drink or a bite to eat, and enjoy some of the wonderful, free programming that is offered.” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement from the Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philly’s Parks department.
While the park has been expanding nearly every year since its inception in 2013, this year is the first time that it will see the northern section of the Parkway, from 20th Street to Art Museum Drive, shut down to make way for walkers, bikers, and people who just want to enjoy Philly in the summer.
The decision to close that section of the Parkway is a result of a 2017 survey put out by the Philly Parks and Recreation Department, asking Philadelphians how they could improve Oval+. Almost half of the people surveyed said they wanted to see more family-friendly activities, according to a statement from the department. Those answers, coupled with concerns over pedestrian safety as people cross busy lanes of traffic to enjoy the Oval, led to the decision to expand.
“This year’s expansion of the Oval+ will not just make the Parkway more accessible—it will also invite people to interact with the Parkway in ways they’ve never been able to before,” said Jamie Gauthier, executive director of Fairmount Park Conservancy
The parks department outlined some of those interactive events in their statement this week, including a 800-square-foot sandbox, a misting pavilion, a platform with views of the museum and City Hall, and a pavilion that, “creates fantastic patterns of sun and shadow throughout the day,” the statement said.
In addition to the interactive exhibits, park-goers can expect to find a beer garden, a ton of food trucks, and mural art installations.