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Parking, Pie and Passers-by

September 27, 2012 By:
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Danielle Selber (left) and Molly Wernick, of the Collaborative, greeted passers-by with music and apple pie on Park(ing) Day last week.

A woman stuck in traffic on Walnut Street gaped at a table lined with apples and other sweets, blocking a prime parking spot just off Rittenhouse Square.

The Collaborative young professionals group had commandeered the edge of the street for a temporary stand celebrating Rosh Ha­shanah.

Their display was part of Park(ing) Day, a worldwide event on Sept. 21 that started in San Francisco in 2005 to call attention to the need for more urban open space.

Locally, participants transformed 59 metered parking spaces throughout the city into pop-up parks with the partnership of the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

Professionals on lunch breaks and homeless people alike wandered among booths set up by nonprofits such as the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and small businesses such as Ultimo Coffee.

Visitors to the Collaborative booth included a former Christian missionary from Portland, Ore., who said he is a Matisyahu fan; a woman who claimed she’d been arrested at Park(ing) Day in Los Angeles a few years earlier and a pair of flight attendants who regularly work the U.S. Airways flight to Tel Aviv and described themselves as an Israeli “Will & Grace.”

In the spirit of the new year, Collaborative staffers passed out honey sticks, apple cider, donuts and other goodies. Molly Wernick entertained with her uku­lele, pausing to offer plastic cups of “drive-by pie” to slow-moving cars.

Danielle Selber said the event allowed them to reach out beyond their usual target of Jews in their 20s and 30s. “The goal of the day,” she said, “really is to welcome people into the Jewish community.”

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