A procession of glowing light moves down Broad Street at dusk.
Cell phones held aloft. The sound of choral voices drifts up into the night sky.
With a world-premiere of choral music created by Oscar nominated composer David Lang, sung by Philadelphia’s Grammy-award winning choir The Crossing.
Saturday September 28
Meet at Marconi Plaza at 5pm
In 1918, the worst flu in history hit Philadelphia. And a patriotic Liberty Loan Parade on Broad Street helped spread the disease. Within six months, 20,000 people had lost their lives.
No memorial exists to those who died.
On September 28, 2019, we invite you to remember these people.
Walk with us from Marconi Plaza at 5.00pm to City Hall.
Click the button below to confirm you are coming and to choose one person to honor.
Explore the records of people who died, some as young as one day old – from milk wagon drivers to physicians, nurses to painters – from Fishtown to Cedar Park. Search by a person’s age, where they lived, or what they did for a living.
By choosing a person you are confirming you are coming to the parade.
Or sign up to choose a person later
Read our FAQ
Do I need a ticket or to register to attend?
No. The event is free and you don’t need a ticket. You can just join us on the day. However, we hope you choose a person who died in 1918 to represent (and, on the day, you will then be given a unique object to take home).
Why choose a person who died?
We want to honor those who died in 1918. Because so many people died so quickly there wasn’t always time to mark their deaths fully. Some people were even buried in mass graves. This is a moment to say “We remember you and we care for you.”
Can I choose a person on the day?
Yes, you can choose someone when you come to the parade, however, only a limited number of names are available so we recommend you choose someone before you come. If you prefer not to represent someone then you can still attend and you’ll still be able to use your cell phone to play music on the parade.
Can I invite my friends and family?
Yes. The parade is open to everyone. We welcome people of all backgrounds, all faiths and all ages. Bring your grandmother! Invite them via Facebook, Twitter or email.
Can I volunteer to help on the parade?
Yes! We’d love your help with staging the parade. Find opportunities for volunteering on the project here.
What time does the parade begin?
The parade will form up at Marconi Plaza from 5pm, before moving off at 6pm towards City Hall. Plan your journey for the day here. Please arrive by 5pm if you have chosen someone to represent to collect your unique object for the parade.
Where do I join the parade?
Join at Marconi Plaza at 5pm on Saturday September 28. There you will collect your unique object to commemorate the person you have chosen. If you are not representing someone, you can also join the parade at any point along the route. If you have access needs or mobility issues please contact us here.
What is the route of the parade?
The parade follows the route of the 4th Liberty Loan Parade held on September 28, 1918, proceeding up Broad Street from Marconi Plaza to City Hall – arriving at Dilworth Park, next to City Hall, around 8pm.
What do I do during the parade?
The parade features moving light sculptures and music played back via paraders cell phones. Bring your cell phone to join in the chorus. We invite everyone to walk in memory of those who died of the flu in 1918. If you prefer not to do that, you can just walk with us, for as much or as little as you like.
How long is the parade?
The parade is two and a half miles.
Where do I share photos and videos?
Use the hashtag #spitspreadsdeath to share your photos and to see everyone else’s.
Are there restrooms along the route?
There are no restrooms provided. However, Broad Street has a number of cafes and restaurants if you need to stop for refreshments and a comfort break.
What do I need to bring?
Bring your cell phone and suitable clothing and footwear for the weather.
Who can attend the parade?
Everyone. If you’ve been sick and are grateful to the people who cared for you, please come. If you want to commemorate what happened in 1918 and all those who died, please come. If you want to be part of a parade like no other, we still want you to come.
What if I can’t make it on the day?
Blast Theory are making a film of the parade which will be part of the exhibition opening at the Mütter Museum on October 17. If you can’t make the parade, then come along to the exhibition.
Do I pay to take part?
No, the whole event is free.
Is there food and drink?
Yes, water will be available at the starting points at Marconi Plaza at 5pm. There will also be a range of food and drink at the festival at the end of the parade in Dilworth Park at 8pm.
I have mobility issues, can I attend?
The parade involves travelling on the road down Broad Street. From the start point at Marconi Plaza to City Hall is about 2.5 miles. If you prefer not to travel this distance unsupported please contact us. Whatever your needs, we will do everything we can to welcome you to participate.
Can I bring children?
Yes, children of all ages are very welcome! There is no age restriction and all the content is suitable for any age.
Can I bring a dog?
Yes, well behaved dogs on leashes are very welcome. We’d love to see your dogs!
Will the parade go ahead if it rains?
Yes, this is a rain or shine event.
Will I be filmed or photographed?
Blast Theory will be taking photographs and video to document the parade, and to create a short film of the parade that will be shown at the Mutter Museum’s new exhibition opening on October 17, 2019.
If you would prefer not to be included in the video or photographic documentation, please let us know here.
What happens at the end of the parade?
The parade ends at Dilworth Park by City Hall, where a festival including food, drink and community stalls will take place to celebrate the end of the parade.
What’s the best way to get to the parade?
Both the start and end points for the parade are at subway stations on the Broad Street Line. Oregon Station for the start at Marconi Plaza and Dilworth Park for the end point. Plan you journey for day here.
Where can I park?
Find details of parking nearby on the Visit Philly website.
Why do I need to bring my cell phone?
Oscar nominated composer David Lang and celebrated Philadelphia choir The Crossing have created a breathtaking piece of music for the parade. Bring your cell phone fully charged and you will be able to play the music and be part of a chorus of hundreds of phones!
Do I need to install an app?
No, just open spitspreadsdeath.com on the day.
What phones are supported?
The music player has been tested on iPhones with iOS11 or newer, and Android phones running Android 6.0 and newer. Older phones or low powered Android phones may have issues playing back music.
How much data will it use?
The download for the all of the music is less than 50MB. The equivalent to watching YouTube for about 10mins.
How much battery will it use?
Depending on you phone, it may use as little as 10% of your battery. However, we recommend you bring your cell phone fully charged.
Do I need headphones?
No. The music is played via all of the paraders’ phone speakers.
Can I charge my phone at the start locations?
We’re not be able to provide cell phone charging at the start of the parade.
Can I attend the parade without a cell phone?
Yes, you can attend the parade and choose a person to represent without a phone.
Is there food and drink?
Yes. There will be food and drink available from around 8pm.
What time does the festival end?
The festival will finish at 10pm.
Can I take a stall at the festival?
Yes, it’s free to host a stall at the festival and spots are available to community groups or health organisations who want to share what they do. Please get in touch with [email protected] if you would like to host a stall.
Who made the lanterns at the festival?
The lanterns at the festival have been created with Spiral Q and community groups invited to workshops about the 1918 flu pandemic.