Jana Shea | NewsWorks.org
They grooved the night away in East Falls during last year's second annual Dance on the Falls Bridge.
With a few new twists in store, organizers are gearing up for an event that has quickly become an East Falls tradition.
The third-annual Dance on the Falls Bridge, scheduled for Saturday night, is expected to draw hundreds from across the region to the iconic bridge that spans the Schuylkill River.
With music, dance lessons and a cigar bar serving as holdovers from the 2012 event, event planners are shedding appetizers and capitalizing on what is both a Philadelphia legacy and one of the hotter gastronomic trends: Food trucks.
Guests will have both savory and sweet options, with options ranging from American favorites to Korean and Trinidadian fare, along with several dessert merchants.
Gina Snyder, executive director of the East Falls Development Corp., which oversees the event, said that the decision to invite the mobile merchants was simple.
"People really seem to love food trucks," she said. "There's something for everyone."
In prior years, various charitable organizations benefitted from the event's silent auction.
In 2011, The Schuylkill Center of Roxborough was selected; in 2012, dance organizers selected clothes-pin.org, a Philadelphia-based non-profit that donates clothing to those in need.
This year, the EFDC is partnering with the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the Fairmount Park Historic Preservation Trust.
Snyder said event planners wanted to support organizations that build and protect the park and the Schuylkill River. All proceeds from the auction will benefit these organizations.
"They said they would do the auction together," Snyder observed, acknowledging their strong working relationship. "It's a good presentation for both of them."
So far, a variety of items have been obtained for the auction, including a river tour for three with John B. Kelly, scion of the East Falls' most famous family.
Other items include baseball and football memorabilia — a Ryan Howard signed baseball, a Carlos Ruiz (Chooch) signed bat and a Ron Jaworski signed football — along with artwork and tickets to local attractions.
James Bloom, president of the Trust's board of directors and honorary dance co-chair, recalled in a statement that earlier partnerships with the Trolley Car Café enhanced both East Falls and Fairmount Park.
"We congratulate the EFDC on all of the projects they have accomplished and look forward to the Dance," said Bloom.
With the dance less than a week away, Snyder is encouraging guests to buy early — and often.
Tickets are $50 but 10 packs are available, with each ticket going for a discounted price of $35.
Each ticket includes a complimentary coupon to one of the food trucks.
The prices are exactly as those for the 2012 event, said Snyder, attributable to the event's sponsors, which include East River Bank, Eastern University, National Penn Bank, Comcast, Interstate General Media and the International Blue Cross Foundation. The total cost of the event is estimated at $40,000.
Snyder is projecting between 600 and 800 attendees, in keeping with attendance goals reached in previous years.
Last year's dance was washed out of its original evening, but approximately 800 guests were present on the rain date the following week.
This year, Snyder is optimistic that the weather will hold and hopeful that guests will turn out despite the dance being in close proximity to the Labor Day weekend. (If the weather doesn't cooperate, the raindate is Sept. 14.)
Just one week shy of what is said to be the "signature event" for East Falls, Snyder suggested that the challenges of putting the dance together are decreasing.
"Every year, it gets easier and easier," she said. "Everyone knows about the event. It's just figuring out how to make it better."