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In honor of next week's Republican National Convention, hundreds lined up at the Pennsylvania Convention Center last night to relax in Air Force One.

Or, at least, to visit the replica of the famous airplane that was set up at PoliticalFest, a "worlds fair" of politics with exhibits devoted to American presidents throughout the ages.

Philadelphia Mayor John Street joined Republican National Committee Chair Jim Nicholson and other city officials to kick off the event at last night's ribbon-cutting ceremony, which officially opened the event to the public.

"This will be the best convention that you have seen in any city anywhere at any time," Street said in a quick speech before the hundreds assembled for the ceremony. "It's altogether fitting an appropriate since we are the cradle of liberty."

"You know, it's totally appropriate that we come to Philadelphia in the year 2000," Nicholson added.

PoliticalFest will remain open through the convention until August 3.

"We wanted to demonstrate our civic pride through a special exhibit everyone would enjoy, and also mark the greater Philadelphia region's amazingly rich history in government and politics," Philadelphia 2000 President Karen Bucholz said in a press release.

At the Convention Center, located at 12th and Arch streets, visitors can view the inaugural gowns of dozens of first ladies, view photos and political cartoons depicting presidents throughout history and act as president from a replica of the Oval Office. Hundreds of vendors are also at the site selling convention memoribilia.

PoliticalFest is a compiliation of eight presidential libraries and museums, including everything from presidents' shoes to campaign buttons to White House China.

Last night's opening attracted hundreds to the Convention Center, with most citing convention-related curiosity as the reason for their attendance.

Norman Cob said that the event was a good opportunity for him and six New-Jersey stationed family members to travel into the city for the evening.

And ten-year-old Joe Matheussen said that while the exhibits were interesting, he most liked sitting in the pilot's seat in the replica of Air Force One.

"But I haven't seen it all yet," he added.

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