When my family set out to visit Philadelphia, PA, I had our trip thoroughly planned out. In my black binder sat directions for all the great Philadelphia sites: Betsy Ross’ house, Independence Hall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art where Rocky Balboa trained, Christ Church & burial ground, Benjamin Franklin’s house and post office, Constitution Center, the Liberty Bell, etc. My plan was perfect until I threw it out the window to listen to a great story.
Our first stop was Independence Hall. Our docent recounted the historic founding of our country and showed us through the rooms where our forefathers forged the Declaration of Independence. We looked around and were fascinated to think of all that had gone on in these very walls. When we finished and walked out the back of the hall, we noticed a sign directing us to a story telling. We decided to stray from our prescribed path and check it out; little did we know that we would be so enchanted that this variance would cause us to throw out our black book of plans and spend our time in Philadelphia finding all 13 storytelling sites.
To call Once Upon a Nation just a group of storytellers is to underrate what the experience is like. Once Upon a Nation has 13 storytelling benches placed within historic Philadelphia. Each storyteller has multiple stories about the people or places that they represent. The passion and energy that these storytellers bring to their tale will ignite a love of history in even the most uninterested soul. Our children, 12 & 8 at the time, loved the stories so much that they practically dragged us from sight to sight. It was clear though that not just kids were enamored with these tales. Listeners spanned the ages from the very young to the very old. All seemed to be equally delighted. Each stop seemed to be better than the last.
Following the Once Upon a Nation trail not only gave direction to our travels through the city but taught us things about the past that we might not otherwise have know. Even better, the tales were free.
The Once Upon a Nation storytelling benches are open 11-4 from Memorial Day to Labor Day. A map of their locations is available at HistoricPhiladelphia.com . Alternate locations are noted in case of inclement weather. I highly recommend that you visit this program the next time you go down to Philly.
P.S. We were thrilled to find that Once Upon a Nation has been expanded to included Valley Forge as well.