Celebrate America where it began
● By J. Chambless
Fireworks light up the night over Philadelphia at the end of the city's Fourth of July celebration.
There will be 50 free events taking
place as part of the Wawa Welcome America festival from June 28
through July 4 in Philadelphia.
The festival will encompass free, all-ages, patriotic events in Center City, the Historic District, in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods and Valley Forge. The festival concludes with 12 hours of non-stop celebrations on July 4.
New this year are:
A gospel performance and a new salute to Broadway will lead up to the traditional POPS on Independence concert for three consecutive nights of concerts at Independence Hall.
Every day, one or more Philadelphia museums will be open for free, or pay what you wish, courtesy of the 18 participating museums and attractions.
The PA Convention Center Community Festival, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, with an accompanying Philly Scoop Ice Cream Festival at the Reading Terminal Market that marks the 125th anniversary of the market.
Debut of the Orangetheory Freedom Fit Fest on the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
250 local performers showcased throughout the festival.
Fourth of July Picnic in the Park at Valley Forge National Historical Park, with guided tours and BBQ.
The festival kicks off on June 28 at noon at Independence Mall with the annual Wawa Hoagie Day honoring U.S. Troops, and concludes on July 4 at Independence National Historical Park. The July 4th Concert and Fireworks starring Pitbull and The Philly Pops Big Band, with special guest Heather Headley, will take place in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The pre-show starts at 6 p.m. NBC-10 will broadcast the concert and fireworks on July 4 from 7 to 10 p.m. The free concert will also be live streamed on NBCPhiladelphia.com and Telemundo62.com.
A schedule and details of 50 free events can be found at www.WelcomeAmerica.com. Festival brochures can be found at Wawa stores. Downloadable festival guides are available at www.WelcomeAmerica.com and www.NBCPhiladelphia.com. Festival guides in Spanish can be found at both www.WelcomeAmerica.com and www.Telemundo62.com.
For the first time, there will be three consecutive nights of free concerts at Independence Hall. Start time for each concert is 7 p.m.
Gospel on Independence will feature performances by more than 150 singers and praise dancers from throughout the tri-state area. Sunday, July 1.
Kimmel Center’s Broadway Philadelphia on Independence will delight audiences with song selections from the 2018-2019 Broadway Philadelphia season, including “Charlie & The Chocolate Factory,” “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas!”, “Rent,” “Anastasia,” “Cats” and “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical.” Monday, July 2.
Pops on Independence annual free concert. With Independence Hall as the backdrop, conductor Todd Ellison will lead the 65-piece Philly Pops orchestra in a patriotic performance starring Grammy-Award Winner Heather Headley. The Philadelphia tradition draws more than 15,000 locals and visitors each year. Tuesday, July 3.
In 2017, Conde Nast Traveler named Philadelphia’s Wawa Welcome America Fireworks on their list of “The Best 4th of July Fireworks in the USA,” and this year’s displays will be even bigger. Two shows will dazzle audiences with new special effects and love-themed soundtracks which will be broadcast on the iHeartMedia Philadelphia iHeart app.
Saturday, June 30 at 9:30 p.m. on the Delaware River Waterfront. Best waterfront views include the official viewing areas at the Moshulu, the Battleship New Jersey, One Liberty Observation Deck and Sugarhouse Casino.
Wednesday, July 4 at 9:30 p.m. on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway following the concert by Pitbull.
On July 4th, the City of Philadelphia’s Office of the City Representative and Independence National Historical Park will present the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony at Independence Hall where The Philly Pops will be honored for their 40-year history in Philadelphia and their contributions to education in schools.
Kicking off at Independence Hall immediately following the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony, 4,000 marchers, floats and celebrities will parade through Historic Philadelphia during the patriotic United States of America’s Independence Day Parade.
There will be free entertainment on Independence Mall, including:
Join Independence National Historical Park for the annual Let Freedom Ring Ceremony behind Independence Hall at 1 p.m. A bell tapping ceremony follows at the Liberty Bell Center at 1:45 p.m.
7th Annual Birthday Party at the Independence Visitor Center. A spectacular five-tier cake will be decorated, and 2,500 cupcakes displayed in the shape of an American flag at the Visitor Center throughout the morning starting at 9 a.m. Then join Betsy Ross in singing “Happy Birthday” at 1 p.m.
Thirteen children will take the Oath of Citizenship during the Children’s Naturalization Ceremony at the Betsy Ross House at 1:30 p.m.
At the Party on the Parkway, families can enjoy five blocks of free entertainment, food and fun including an interactive kid’s area featuring a zipline, games, activities and more. The 21-and-older crowd can kick back in two beer gardens featuring a wide selection of brews, ciders and Barefoot Wines, and all can enjoy interactive fitness activities with the U.S. Army, art from Philly Pop, and diverse food and music from the PA Lottery Philly Groove stage on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. July 4 from noon to 7 p.m.
Visit www.WelcomeAmerica.com; Facebook.com/WawaWelcomeAmerica; Twitter.com/July4thPhilly; Instagram.com/July4thPhilly.