Fans flock to Center City for Ellen DeGeneres taping

ELLEN PUBLISH
Christina Walker of Delaware traveled to Philadelphia with her daughters, Everly, 11 months and Trinity, 7, for a taping of 'Ellen'

They came for Ellen.

Beginning at 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, a throng of Ellen DeGeneres fans -- some 500 strong -- congregated on the 1600 block of Walnut Street to be part of the entertainer’s talk show.

They didn’t meet DeGeneres in the flesh. She wasn't in town herself, though she did greet them two hours later via a live satellite feed from her studio in Burbank, Calif.

A youngish group dominated by twentysomething and thirtysomething women, DeGeneres' fans screamed and shouted; they danced and chatted for two hours. By the time a flat-screen TV beamed Ellen's beaming face, the crowd had thinned out to a little over 300.

What was it all about? DeGeneres hyped the event this week with a series of tweets inviting fans to show up at 4 p.m. dressed up as their favorite Philly movie character. The whole thing was taped for a segment about Philadelphia set to air on Ellen on Thursday. (It airs 3 p.m. on NBC.) For the remainder of the afternoon, the screen showed bits and pieces of the new episode as it was being taped and assembled, beginning with Ellen's monologue.

Despite the underwhelming turn of events, the crowd never lost its enthusiasm -- especially when production assistants signaled them to react whenever a roving camera passed by.

Atlantic City’s Nadina Ramp, 45, and her husband George, 50, were among the faithful who stuck around for the whole day.

“We got here at 10 a.m.,” she said. “They told us we needed to be in costume, so we went and bought some.”

She got a Wonder Woman outfit while her husband went for Batman. She added the day trip was a perfect way to celebrate their ninth wedding anniversary which is on Thursday.

Self-described "Ellen diehard" Christina Walker, 35, drove from Wilmington, Del., with her husband Jason, 40, and their two daughters, ages 7 years and 11 months.

“This is the closest we’ve gotten so far to get tickets,” she said.

“I told my husband he needs to start saving to take me to a show in California for my 40th birthday.”

By far the grooviest costumes were worn by Haddonfield’s Dan Riley, 36, who teaches culinary arts, and his fiancée, Grace McAleer. They came as eight-foot-tall stilt walkers in elaborate masks that made them look like hundred-year-old corpses.

Who were they supposed to be?

“We’re just very tall people,” Riley answered. “We are very old because we’ve been waiting so long for Ellen.”

McAleer, a nurse, said the couple plans to marry in June.

“If we last that long. And yes, we’d love to be married on Ellen’s show.”