Philadelphia Hope Fence paints picture of unity during uncertain times

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- A tall structure recognizable from across the Delaware River, the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn's Landing has a much smaller gem tucked away on ground level.

In fact, there are thousands of gems. They shimmer in the form of multi-colored locks permanently tucked into the walls of the Philadelphia Hope Fence.

Accessible by the waterfront at Penn's Landing, this 250-foot long series of fences was dedicated by Hilton Owner Dan Keating and his wife, Sarah. They were inspired by the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris, France, and brought the concept a little closer to home in 2017. A cancer survivor himself, Keating dedicated the project to the American Association for Cancer Research.

Since then, thousands of locals and tourists have locked in a moment in time, leaving the key behind.

"You see old locks, new locks, big locks, small locks, locks of different color, and they're all coming together to make this wonderful piece of artwork," said Deborah Smith, Director of Sales and Marketing at the Hilton.

Her assessment perfectly illustrates a vibrant and diverse Philadelphia landscape that shines through despite tumultuous times.

"Y'know, there's a lot of protests going on and I see all races, all genders, and we're all beautiful humans," said Dayna Bolden. Her vivid description paints a picture similar to the population that is reflected in the Philadelphia Hope Fence.

Bolden, a social media influencer originally from Atlanta, treasured her visit to Philadelphia's Hope Fence. If she were to visit today, she would commemorate this moment in time where she longs for peace.

"In the future, you reflect back and you look at what everybody did to come together to get through it," said Alan Cagle, General Manager of the Hilton. He likens each lock to a time capsule that can be revisited at any moment in the future.

Philadelphia Hope Fence is currently working on plans to allow visitors to share their stories more formally through a new multimedia platform. This will give Philadelphians and tourists alike the unique opportunity to share their slice of life with the community.

For now, anyone wishing to lock in their own story can visit the Philadelphia Hope Fence at Penn's Landing. Those without a lock can purchase one inside the Hilton. Receptacles are installed along the wall to allow visitors to safely discard their keys, keeping the environment clean for both humans and wildlife.

And when you visit, be sure to look for the lock that makes us #PHILLYPROUD!

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