'Rocky' tourists run into NFL Draft roadblock

David Ngo, 33 and Jackie Marual, 29, both of Los Angeles, were in town to run the Philadelphia Art Museum steps as part of their visit. They settled for photos by the Rocky statue.

Access to the Philadelphia Museum of Art's iconic steps has become the first high-profile casualty of preparations for the NFL Draft 2017, spoiling a dream for some Rocky-inspired tourists.

Crews have begun erecting the stage for the draft, which will take place from April 27 to 29 in an outdoor theater in front of the steps. The disruption will likely continue through the first week in May.

>> Click here for more coverage of the 2017 NFL draft in Philadelphia

Among the disappointed was Shaun Kelliher of Writtle, England, who was traveling through Philadelphia with his family on Wednesday as part of their trip from Washington to New York.

"We specifically stopped here for a day to do the Rocky steps, this being the epitome of Philadelphia – the Rocky tour," said Kelliher, a huge fan of the films.

The family had long planned to visit the film's locations, including the Art Museum, the Italian Market, and Pat's King of Steaks. 

"You see it in the movies and want to run up the steps," said Ciaran Kelliher, 15. who has seen "all of the movies."

"At least twice," his father chimed in.

While a run up the steps is not now possible, the visit to the museum wasn't a total bust for most.  And there still is the Rocky statue.

Tourists stopped at the Sylvester Stallone likeness to pose for photos, then made their way up the side staircase, where they could still climb the last flight up to see the Rocky sneakers.

Salvatore Calabrese, who is part of the staff providing security at the top of the steps, said most people have been understanding.

"They are satisfied with the top landing," he said. He directs them to the sneaker plaque inset on the top step.

"They have the experience, it's still here," Calabrese said, waving his hand to the view.

Gina Sanchez, 27, and Anthony Salas, 25, both from Los Angeles, were just in town for a day to run the stairs and eat a cheesesteak. Both are bigger baseball fans and forgot the draft was going to be held in Philadelphia.

"I'm pretty sad," said Sanchez shortly after posing for a photo. "I don't know if I was going to run but I was going to walk them."

A group of 27 kids and eight adults from the El Dorado Middle School in Concord, Calif., descended on the statue for a quick photo stop during their history tour of the Liberty Bell, National Constitution Center and Ben Franklin Museum along with other sites in Boston, New York City, Williamsburg, Va., and Washington.

Cindy Gillmore, 41, a chaperone, wasn't bothered by the lack of step access. 

"Not really," she said, taking shots of the kids by the statue. "I didn't know the statue was here."

The students were not at all upset, Gillmore said. "The kids don't typically know the movie."

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