First weekend of Franklin Square festival attended by 9,000

The Chinese Lantern Festival at Franklin Square will be fenced off to the public in the evenings until June 12.

The Chinese Lantern Festival, which has sparked criticism because of its opaque black fencing, restricting access to Franklin Square, did excellent business last weekend, according to Historic Philadelphia Inc., the private nonprofit that leases the public square.

About 9,000 visitors attended the colorful light displays during the evening last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, said Cari Feiler Bender, spokeswoman for Historic Philadelphia.

Historic Philadelphia operates Franklin Square under a long-term lease with the city, and is responsible for maintenance and security.

The festival is being presented by Tianyu Arts & Culture, a for-profit American subsidiary of a Chinese corporation.

At 6 p.m., two open gates will close and only ticket-holders will be allowed entry. Price for admission is $17 for adults, $12 for youths. The festival closes June 12.

Historic Philadelphia anticipates total revenue of at least $220,000 for the length of the festival, Bender said.