When the 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia opened on Monday, July 25, at least 20,000 hands were on deck to ensure the event ran smoothly. With more than 4,700 delegates in attendance, 91 hotels in the official DNC room block and security detail on ultrahigh alert, to say the convention was a giant undertaking for its host city is an understatement. But it’s nothing Philly couldn’t handle: After all, the City of Brotherly Love hosted the Republican National Convention in 2000 and, more recently, the massive World Meeting of Families (17,000 attendees, including Pope Francis) in 2015.
Though the Philadelphia CVB, Discover Philadelphia, assists the DNC staff in an advisory capacity, its small staff can’t do it alone—which is why they recruited thousands of volunteers in the months building up to the DNC.
“The benchmark of 10,000 volunteers has been a signature target number for many large civic events,” says Philomena Petro, CMP, vice president of convention services for the CVB. Weeks after the volunteer registration portal opened, well over that number had signed up. “There has been a great deal of interest in the 2016 DNC, and we very much wanted to honor the enthusiasm we’ve received,” she continues.
About 60 percent of registered volunteers are from the Greater Philly region—meaning at least 4,000 from out of state were planning on coming to town on their own dime to chip in. Petro says some hail all the way from Europe.
The biggest trait the city’s looking for in a volunteer is passion for promoting the area. “We are looking for folks who can be fantastic cheerleaders for the Philly region,” says Petro.