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June 28, 2013

Our Guide To Wawa Welcome America! The Festivals, Concerts And Family-Friendly Fun Of Philadelphia’s Fourth of July Celebrations

Celebrate the 4th of July (Photo at top by G. Widman for GPMTC; others courtesy Wawa Welcome America)

The biggest birthday bash of the year starts this weekend, Philadelphia.

Ready to party?

Wawa Welcome America returns to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and beyond to celebrate the 4th of July holiday with live — and free! — music from Grammy-winning musicians, a huge parade, fireworks, a food festival and tons of other activities across the city.

As the birthplace of the nation, Philadelphia is home to many, many 4th of July celebrations, but the Welcome America festivities have lead the celebrations for the past 20 years, helping to establish Philly as one of the places to commemorate Independence Day.

Pre-festival events get underway June 29 and 30, with the main festival lineup from July 1 to 7, including the largest free outdoor concert in the country, the Philly 4th of July Jam — hosted by Kevin Hart, televised by VH1 and headlined by none other than The Roots, alongside John Mayer, Grace Potter, Jill Scott, Ne-Yo and Demi Lovato.

Now in its 20th anniversary year, the Welcome America festival is set to be bigger and better than ever, with daily events leading up to a full day (and night!) of patriotic happenings on July 4 and after.

Read on for our guide to the 4th of July events of Wawa Welcome America, and check back for more coverage of America’s birthday celebration soon.

• Super Scooper All-You-Can-Eat Ice Cream Festival: Kicking off the festivities, the annual Super Scooper Festival features all-you-can-eat ice cream and live entertainment on Penn’s Landing on Saturday and Sunday. An entrance donation of just $7 buys access to unlimited mouthwatering treats at the family-friendly festival.

When: June 29-30, noon-6 p.m.
Where: Penn’s Landing, 101 S. Columbus Boulevard
Cost: $7 donation, benefiting the Joshua Kahan Fund

Go 4th & Learn: A free, interactive series, Go 4th and Learn offers educational fun for the whole family. Get a hands-on lesson about the history of dairy from Wawa at Franklin Square on July 1, discover the history of the hoagie at the National Constitution Center on July 2 and break a sweat at the Smith Memorial Playground in Fairmount Park on July 3. Plus, the first 200 children at Go 4th and Learn will receive a free book.

When: July 1-3
Where: Franklin Square, 6th and Race streets; National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street; Smith Memorial Playground, East Fairmount Park
Cost: Free

Replica After Dark: Join in the kick-off celebration of Wawa Welcome America. As part of Replica Creative’s ongoing Replica After Dark happy hour series, the Center City creative group’s headquarters welcome revelers with live music and cocktails before the first screening of Philly at the Movies in nearby Rittenhouse Square.

When: Monday, July 1, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Where: Replica Creative, 33 S. 18th Street
Cost: Pay as you go

Philly at the Movies: Relax with the stars under the stars during two nights of Philly at The Movies. Enjoy free, outdoor screenings of cinematic classics during Wawa Welcome America at iconic locations around the city. This year’s films include Silver Linings Playbook at Rittenhouse Square on July 1 and the annual screening of Rocky on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art on July 2.

When: July 1-2, 9 p.m.
Where: Rittenhouse Square, 18th and Walnut streets; Philadelphia Museum of Art, 26th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Cost: Free

Wawa Hoagie Day: On Tuesday, July 2, beginning at noon, spend your lunch break on Independence Mall with all of the freshly made hoagies you can imagine. Join the mayor and hoagie-lovers from around the region for Wawa Hoagie Day. Feast on 4.5 tons of hoagies on the lawn of the Independence Visitor Center and salute the nation’s military, police and fire departments during the delicious annual celebration.

When: Tuesday, July 2, noon-2 p.m.
Where: Independence Visitor Center, 6th and Market streets
Cost: Free

Philadelphia Orchestra Neighborhood Concert: Just off of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s China residency and 40th-anniversary tour, the world-renowned orchestra presents a free neighborhood concert on the RiverStage at the Great Plaza, followed by a small landside fireworks salute.

When: Tuesday, July 2, 8 p.m.
Where: Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, 101 S. Columbus Boulevard
Cost: Free

More Welcome America events, below.

• The Pops on Independence Mall: The ever-energetic Peter Nero and his Philly Pops return once more to Independence Mall to celebrate America’s birthday in America’s birthplace. POPS! on Independence, a free concert at Independence Hall, is one of Philadelphia’s most popular Fourth of July traditions, and seating is first come, first served. Concertgoers are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs.

When: Wednesday, July 3, 8 p.m.
Where: Independence Hall, 5th and Chestnut streets
Cost: Free

• Celebration of Freedom: Begin your 4th of July celebration and pay tribute to the history of our great nation at Independence Hall with a patriotic morning full of celebration of music, speeches and a reading of excerpts from the Declaration of Independence.

When: Thursday, July 4, 10-11 a.m.
Where: Steps of Independence Hall, 6th and Chestnut streets
Cost: Free

Independence Day Parade: America’s Birthday continues in America’s birthplace with the annual Independence Day Parade through Historic Philadelphia. Join 5,000 participants from across the country as they march through the nation’s most historic mile. The old-time Fourth of July parade features floats, marching bands, military groups and more.

When: Thursday, July 4, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Where: From 5th and Chestnut streets to Front and Market streets
Cost: Free

Party on the Parkway: Music, dancing, cultural activities, arts and crafts and live entertainment make for an afternoon of family fun on the 4th.

When: Thursday, July 4, noon-7 p.m.
Where: Benjamin Franklin Parkway between 18th and 23rd streets
Cost: Free

Philly 4th of July Jam and Grand Finale Fireworks: Join the Roots and special guests including John Mayer, Ne-Yo, Jill Scott and host comedian Kevin Hart on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for nation’s largest free outdoor 4th of July concert, followed by an eye-popping fireworks display. Concert programming begins around 7 p.m., with the first performance estimated at 8 p.m. Fireworks estimated to begin around 10:30 p.m., but note that performances could happen before or after the listed times. Check out where to watch here.

When: Thursday, July 4, 7-11 p.m.
Where: Benjamin Franklin Parkway between 18th and 23rd streets
Cost: Free

Taste of Philadelphia: The celebration continues after the 4th during Taste of Philadelphia. Sample food from area restaurants and food trucks, enjoy live entertainment and special events. Marsha Ambrosius will take the stage on Saturday, July 6, followed by another fireworks show over the Delaware River.

When: July 5-7
Where: Penn’s Landing, 101 S. Columbus Boulevard
Cost: Free admission; food, pay as you go

Wawa Welcome America
When: June 29-July 7
Where: Various locations
Cost: Free
More info: www.welcomeamerica.com

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