Philadelphia and the Countryside - Press Room

Releases: Expanded View

Jun 9 2008

Ben Franklin And Betsy Ross To Marry In Philly On July 3

Philadelphia’s Premier Historic Re-enactors Will Tie The Knot During Sunoco Welcome America!’s POPS on Independence Concert

Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross are getting married, and it’s happening in Philadelphia. In reality, Ralph Archbold, the city’s nationally recognized Ben Franklin re-enactor, fell in love with Linda Wilde, who often portrays Betsy Ross, and they decided to get married. The couple will exchange vows in a public ceremony on Thursday, July 3, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. in front of Independence Hall before the POPS on Independence concert, one of the Sunoco Welcome America! Fourth of July festival’s most popular traditions. Mayor Michael A. Nutter will officiate the ceremony, and the Grammy Award-winning Peter Nero and the Philly Pops will provide music for the processional and recessional as thousands of concert goers join the couple’s families and friends in witnessing this historic event.

The couple will be clad in formal Colonial-style attire. Wilde will wear a silk brocade Colonial gown edged in lace. Archbold, who has portrayed Franklin since 1973, will wear a black moiré waistcoat and white knee breeches. The wedding party, which will include the bride’s daughter Lauren and J. Nathan Bazzel, who portrays Thomas Jefferson, will also be in Colonial garb. Archbold and Wilde will exchange rings designed by local jeweler Henri David of Halloween and engraved with a kite and key and stars and stripes, symbols representing the historic characters they play.

Following the ceremony, the couple will head to the historic City Tavern for a private reception with family and friends. Throughout the nation’s earliest days, Benjamin Franklin along with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other Founding Fathers, frequently dined at City Tavern. Today, the restaurant has been reconstructed to look much like it did in the 18th century.

Not only did the real Ben and Betsy not have any romantic connection, history shows that they never even met one another. However, their 21st-century counterparts met in 2006 when Linda contacted Ralph to give a toast at the wedding of friends who were avid Franklin-philes. After first turning down the request, Ralph reconsidered, and their first meeting took place at the reception where he both surprised and wowed guests with his appearance. Linda became fascinated with first-person historic interpretation and soon set about researching everything she could about the woman who is thought to have made the first American flag.

Archbold is nationally and internationally recognized for both his witty and knowledgeable portrayal and likeness to Ben Franklin. He has appeared on numerous national television programs, including the History Channel and most recently The Colbert Report when the show was in Philadelphia to cover the Pennsylvania primaries.

Archbold’s numerous appearances and benefit performances to promote Philadelphia have earned him loyal fans among government officials, the hospitality industry, area businesses and others. The wedding of the city’s premier Ben and Betsy re-enactors is a thank you from many local organizations and businesses, including City Tavern, Halloween, Salon Royale Court, the Omni Hotel at Independence Park, Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia, The Whipped Bakeshop and Philadelphia Trolley Works.

Visitors celebrating America’s birthday in its birthplace can take advantage of the Philly’s More Summer Fun Hotel Package, which pairs a two-night hotel stay with a $50 gift card from American Express. The package is available at more than 30 hotels and is bookable online at www.gophila.com/summerfun.

For more information about this event and others taking place during Sunoco Welcome America!, running June 28 through July 6, visit www.americasbirthday.com.

For media credentials, visit www.americasbirthday.com.

Sunoco Welcome America! is a multi-day festival that celebrates America’s birthday in America’s birthplace and is produced by Welcome America, Inc.

The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases business and promotes the region’s vitality. For more information about travel to Philadelphia, visit www.gophila.com or call the Independence Visitor Center, located in Independence National Historical Park, at (800) 537-7676.

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