’Welcome America’ 11-Day Philly Fest Rings in July 4th
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The city’s annual Independence Day celebration will include three fireworks shows, a parade, a concert series, movies, music and a talent contest over an 11-day period.
The "Welcome America!" festival, sponsored by regional convenience store chain Wawa, runs from June 24 to July 4. Organizers call it the biggest event in the nation celebrating the Fourth of July, with more than a million people attending each year.
The festival begins June 24 with Taste of Philadelphia, a popular three-day smorgasbord of food from 25 restaurants with musical performances each day. A fireworks show - the first of three over the course of "Welcome America!" - follows a performance by Aaron Neville on June 25.
A 4 1/2-ton Wawa hoagie will be assembled and then served June 29 at Independence National Historical Park, with a screening of "Rocky" outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art that evening.
A Chinatown block party and open-air market of food and crafts - followed by the second of the festival’s fireworks shows on the Delaware River - happens July 2, and Peter Nero and the Philly Pops perform a free concert at Independence Hall on July 3.
Fourth of July events begin with a ceremony at Independence Hall featuring music and a reading of excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, followed by a parade with more than 4,000 participants from 12 states - including nine floats, 16 marching bands, representatives from all five military branches and others marching past Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.
A daylong party on Benjamin Franklin Parkway starts at noon and features three musical stages with offerings from pop vocalists to a steel drum band. Hometown favorites The Roots, four-time Grammy winners and the house band for "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," will headline the July 4 concert on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway that culminates with a huge fireworks show over The Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The Roots’ Questlove, the festival’s musical director, also plans to perform sets with guests Earth Wind and Fire, Michael McDonald, Estelle, Sara Bareilles and DJ Jazzy Jeff.
"The Fourth of July on the Parkway should be (to Philadelphia) what New Year’s Eve in Times Square is to New York," Questlove said in a statement.
A new event this year is a singer-songwriter competition for unsigned talent. The winner gets to perform on the Parkway and cut a demo with Grammy-winning Philadelphia producers Carvin Haggins and Ivan Barias.