That giant water slide scheduled to be set up in the Fairmount Park area in August is no more.
A spokeswoman for the mayor’s administration said the city will not issue a permit to Slide the City, the national company that wanted to bring the quarter-mile-long event to Philadelphia. The group sought a permit to operate on Aug. 6 in the Fairmount area and gathered a waiting list of 25,000 people who wanted to purchase tickets.
Spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said “they weren’t the kind of partners we could trust” after the company pulled out at the last minute last year, and failed to notify city officials early this year. Then, she said city officials were frustrated Slide the City got ahead of the permitting process and put out a press release announcing the event.
When asked why Slide the City announced the event before obtaining a permit, co-founder John Malfatto said the move was “typical” and that the organization usually tries to announce its intentions to bring their event to a city three months before it occurs. A week prior to the beginning of that three-month window, they release information to media about the event.
Last year, a local franchisee of Slide of the City attempted to bring the event to Philadelphia, but that person apparently didn’t meet corporate’s “standards” and the event was canceled late in the game. This year, it was put together by corporate organizers who were told to reach out to the city in January if they wanted to come back. Hitt said that didn’t happen, but Malfatto said his permit application is dated Feb. 6.
“They’ve never told me they had frustrations with us last year,” Malfatto said. “The operator from last year is no longer with us and corporate is doing it now, and we reached out… as early as we possibly could to do the event.”
He added that he was told on a conference call this morning that the reason they would not be issued a permit was because someone else had booked the same location on the same date.
Jolene Nieves Byzon, a spokeswoman for Councilman Bobby Henon, said the councilman’s office was working closely with Slide the City to put on a slide event on Friday, Aug. 5 that would be free to campers in the city’s Parks and Recreation programs as part of the Philly Play initiative. Their office submitted the permit application to Parks and Rec after another entity had already requested the same space.
But before they could figure out a solution, Slide the City announced its event. That announcement also happened before Henon’s office was able to secure a sponsor to cover the nearly $30,000 it would have cost to pay for tickets and transportation for children using the slide that Friday.
“That press release, if anything, highlighted the fact that they’re not a good partner to us,” Nieves Byzon said. “To make this announcement without notifying anybody and without having your permits, it’s tough.” She also added that Henon’s office will look to find an alternative event for kids in the Philly Play program that day.
Slide the City started in 2014 and its tour last year took slides and block parties to 70 cities worldwide. This summer’s tour will feature more than 100 events with music, food, local vendors and street entertainment… so long as they get approved.