Calling All Proud Philadelphians: Become A 'Philly Friend'

200 Residents Who Are Committed, Passionate & Positive Neighbors Living In The

Region Are The First To Be Inducted Into New Civic Pride Program,

Philly Friends, On June 18

Jun 18, 2003, 01:00 ET from The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation

    PHILADELPHIA, June 18 /PRNewswire/ -- What started as a group of people
 casually talking about how much they love Philadelphia has evolved into a
 comprehensive civic pride program called Philly Friends, with its first
 official induction ceremony on Wednesday, June 18, 2003, for 200 residents of
 the region. The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) has
 created the pride program to recruit Philly Friends of all ages who are eager
 to share their passion and enthusiasm about Philadelphia and to become expert
 tour guides for their visiting friends and relatives.
     "This program was created to encourage residents to be more proactive in
 sharing their pride and knowledge of the Philadelphia region in their everyday
 lives," says Meryl Levitz, GPTMC president and CEO. "Essentially,
 Philadelphians can become instrumental in marketing the city by spreading
 their positive enthusiasm to others. Philly Friends seeks to bring people
 together who want to learn more about their own hometown and to encourage
 people to visit other areas of the region."
     The Philly Friends program is the newest component of a larger three-year,
 $4 million marketing campaign aimed towards residents of the region called,
 Philly Friends and Family, which launched on October 1, 2002. The Philly
 Friends and Family campaign is comprised mostly of advertising, public
 relations and research and tourism product development such as the
 Philadelphia Neighborhood Tours. Philly Friends and Family is funded by the
 Delaware River Port Authority.
     Residents will be inducted into the Philly Friends program during a free,
 one-hour orientation. At each induction, Philly Friends will be treated to a
 performance by the improvisational comedy-troupe, Comedy Sportz, who will play
 three audience participation games that are peppered with Philadelphia fun
 facts and reasons why people love this area.
     Afterwards, inductees receive GPTMC's new Tourism Tool Kit, complete with:
     -- Philly Friends gift
     -- Philadelphia Speaks interactive CD-rom
     -- A new book called, 188 of The Coolest Things to Brag About in
        Philadelphia and Its Countryside
     -- Philly Friends membership card, good for admittance to future program
     -- "Tell A Friend" card to recruit more friends
     -- Trip Planner and regional maps
     -- Monthly e-newsletter
     -- Invitations to special Philly Friends events
     -- The new Essential Guide To Eating & Drinking in Philadelphia
     "Civic pride has essentially been a grassroots movement in Philadelphia
 for decades," says Rachel Delano, Philly Friends project director at GPTMC.
 "We harnessed the grassroots spirit by bringing together a group of proud and
 involved Philadelphians, who are young, mature, suburban, urban, straight,
 gay, married and single, to shape our ideas into a program that gives people
 the opportunity and resources to spread the word about our wonderful region."
     To sign-up for the Philly Friends program, residents can visit or call (215) 599-0776. The next inductions will be
 held on June 30 at the Bucks County Conference & Visitors Center (3207 Street
 Road, Bensalem) and on July 10 at the Valley Forge Welcome Center (Route 23
 and North Gulph Road, Valley Forge). Program begins promptly at 6 p.m. Visit for more dates and locations.
     The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation is a non-profit
 organization dedicated to generating awareness of and visitation to
 Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties. For more
 information about travel to Philadelphia, visit or call the
 new Independence Visitor Center, located in Independence National Historical
 Park, at (800) 537-7676.

SOURCE The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation