The Philadelphia Flower Show will "Celebrate the Movies" this year with displays that interpret themes and characters from Disney and Disney Pixar films.
"We want to transport viewers and inspire them to dream big," Pennsylvania Horticultural Society president Drew Becher said at the show's kickoff event Thursday, at the Ritz East theater in Old City before an audience of enthusiastic supporters, exhibitors, and volunteers.
PHS produces the annual show, which dates to 1829 and this year runs from Feb. 28 through March 9 at the Convention Center.
The range of films chosen for floral and landscape interpretation is vast, from Pirates of the Caribbean to Winnie the Pooh. And yes, there will be princesses.
Becher and others expressed hope that Disney's broad appeal, and the magic of the movies, will attract more young people and families, and help revive the tradition of children going to the Flower Show with their parents and grandparents.
"Everyone loves the movies, and everyone loves Disney, young and old, men and women. The appeal is broad," said Ron Mulray, owner of the Philadelphia Flower Co. in the Far Northeast, who exhibits at the show with the American Institute of Floral Designers.
The 2015 production will highlight four international garden designers, from Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Malaysia - and some actual movie figures, including Pam Grier, the 1970s star of Foxy Brown and other blaxploitation films.
Dan Aykroyd, of Ghostbusters, The Blues Brothers, and many other classics, and Ethan Wayne, son of John and an actor in his own right, will be on hand, too. The former will be hawking his additive-free vodka, the latter a bourbon called "Duke."
In an interview, Becher described the relationship between PHS and Disney as "a partnership, not a sponsorship." It came about through PHS's long-standing association with 6ABC, which is owned by the Walt Disney Co. The station does a show every year at the Flower Show preview party and participates in other projects with PHS.
Thursday's event featured a red carpet with popping paparazzi flashes, free popcorn, and bottles of a new hard cider created just for the show; a large, sequined Liza Minnelli impersonator known as Mimi Imfurst; and several stunning dresses from Gene London's 60,000-piece collection of Hollywood costumes.
London, now 83 and living in Reading, starred in the children's TV show Cartoon Corners General Store from 1959 to 1977. He'll bring more than 50 costumes from his collection to the Flower Show.
As for the show's flora, there will be masses of cut flowers and plants, palm trees and junipers, horticultural displays, competitions, special events, and workshops. The entrance garden promises to recall the interiors of 1920s movie palaces.
Hopes are high for the 2015 show, which, like the others, raises money for PHS programs such as City Harvest, through which community gardeners donate their fresh produce to food cupboards.
The 2014 show, called "ARTiculture," drew 230,000 visitors, slightly more than the 2013 British-themed show, which - at 225,000 - was the lowest attendance since 2001, despite the show's being open an extra day.
Contributed by Virginia A. Smith, Inquirer Staff Writer
For Flower Show information, go to theflowershow.com.
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