As the birthplace of the U.S. Army, the American Flag and the nation, Philadelphia sure represents when it comes to stars and stripes.
On Saturday, June 14, the first Philadelphia Stripes and Stars Festival salutes both Old Glory and the U.S. Army during a daylong festival at a number of sites throughout historic Philadelphia.
Marking the shared birthday of two of our country’s greatest institutions, the American flag and the U.S. Army, the Philadelphia’s Stripes and Stars Festival commemorates the anniversaries of both the United States flag (237 years) and the United States Army (239 years) in a series of free indoor and outdoor events and presentations at venues throughout the historic district — from the National Constitution Center to the Betsy Ross House and beyond.
Events include flag raising ceremonies, giant flag folding demonstrations, a special exhibition on the history of the flag, a naturalization ceremony, drill teams, a color guard, parachuters and a parade.
On Saturday, June 14, the festival begins at 9 a.m. with a 13-Star flag raising ceremony at the Betsy Ross House and continue through 7 p.m. with many patriotic happenings. All day long, family-friendly activities are set for Independence National Historic Park, the National Constitution Center, the Historic Philadelphia Center and the Betsy Ross House.
Most of the Stripes and Stars Festival events are completely free, and admission to both the National Constitution Center and the Betsy Ross House will be discounted to $5 for the day.
Read on for our guide to the day’s festivities at its multiple locations.
At Independence National Historical Park
After the ceremonial flag raising ceremonies at the Betsy Ross House at 9 a.m., report directly to Independence Mall for the Stripes and Stars Festival Opening Ceremonies.
At 10 a.m., the National Constitution Center front lawn hosts a 50-Star flag raising, followed by a patriotic parade to Independence Hall.
At 10:25 a.m., the opening ceremonies commence with a reading of the original act that established the flag of the United States, followed by a reading of the Mayor’s Army Birthday Proclamation. Additionally, there will be a keynote address by Under Secretary of the U.S. Army Brad Carson and a special enlistment ceremony.
Stick around for the entire program, though, or you might miss out on seeing the U.S. Army’s Black Daggers parachute onto Independence Mall!
More on the Stripes and Stars Festival, below.
After the ceremony, check out the Stripes and Stars Festival community fair on Independence Mall, which showcases patriotic activities, including demonstrations from Fort Mifflin on the Delaware and the Pennsylvania National Guard.
In connection with the Army’s 239th birthday, the festival will also include appearances by some of the Army’s elite ceremonial units, including the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, the U.S. Army Drill Team, the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard, the Continental Color Guard, and U.S. Army Voices.
Of note, at 4 p.m. three key festival sites connect via song. The public is invited to join in a chorus of the Star Spangled Banner on the Constitution Center front lawn, at the Historic Philadelphia Center and at the Betsy Ross House, as part of the the national “Raise it Up! Anthem for America” initiative celebrating the national anthem’s 200th anniversary, organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
At 5 p.m., a giant flag-folding ceremony — featuring the huge flag used on-field by the Philadelphia Union — and a performance by the U.S. Army Brass Quintet wraps up the activities outside at Independence National Historical Park.
At the National Constitution Center
In addition to the 50-star flag raising on the National Constitution Center’s lawn at 10 a.m., the museum hosts an abundance of special programming throughout the day and special $5 admission, thanks to The Macy’s Foundation.
Inside the center, take part in craft activities and flag etiquette workshops, and be sure to take in the new The Flag: A History, an exhibition of different flags from the Philadelphia Flag Day Association’s collection of historic American flags and banners.
At the Betsy Ross House
On June 14, way back in 1777, the United States adopted a new flag crafted by one Betsy Ross.
This weekend at the Betsy Ross House — where America’s most famous seamstress sewed that first stars and stripes banner — celebrate Old Glory with family-friendly activities and interactive experiences during the Stars & Stripes Saturday event, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Daylong activities at the Betsy Ross House include tales at the Once Upon A Nation Storytelling Bench from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., as well as carnival games and outdoor performances by the Give & Take Jugglers, Bag Lady Theater, the Mummers’ String Band Connection, and the Funicular Aerial Circus.
Plus, at 1:30 p.m., 13 new Americans will take the oath of allegiance during a naturalization ceremony.
All Stars & Stripes Saturday activities are free with admission to the Betsy Ross House, which is $5 for adults and $4 for children.
Check here for more information on this festive celebration of Old Glory in Philadelphia.
Stripes and Stars Festival
When: Saturday, June 14, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
Where: Independence National Historical Park and surrounding locations throughout Historic Philadelphia
Cost: Mostly free
More info: www.constitutioncenter.org