All-Star festivities begin in Philadelphia

Giant Ball kicks off 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game events

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (July 20, 2012) - There it was. Sitting prominently on the famous steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, kids and their families sprinted eagerly to pose next to it while museum goers stopped and pointed.

This was not the Rocky statue. Instead, a massive replica of the official adidas PRIME matchball of Major League Soccer. This was the #GiantBall.

Like any game, the ball was the star today, the thing that everyone (including a horde of media) had their eye on. That is, until Commissioner Garber and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter stepped up to the podium to signal the start of five straight days of festivities here in Philly.

Despite the spotty weather conditions (Read: It was freezing), Philadelphia Union faithful were out in force to hear Mayor Nutter show a little love for the lone Union representative in this year's game (Carlos Valdes) and welcome the rest of the League to the city he oversees.

Following the announcement, a massive group of children lined up side-by-side next to the Giant Ball to kick more appropriately-sized adidas Prime replicas down the steps. Once the last had been launched, the Sharpies came out for a signing session of a different variety with Mayor Michael Nutter, Commissioner Don Garber and Union CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz started off the by signing the ball. The ball will be making its way all of the city leading up to the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game for fans to add their signatures.

Immediately after the event, the Giant Ball was already on the way, stopping next at Tir Na Nog on Arch Street where Jeff Agoos and Nelson Rodriguez gave an in-depth presentation on the nuts and bolts of MLS to local supporters. No gloss, no sugar-coating which made the dialogue that much more valuable for everyone taking part.

Look for the ball near you and add your signature.

CLICK HERE to keep up with all of the 2012 AT&T MLS All Star Action.