Wawa Welcome America culminated with patriotic ceremonies, a free concert with Meghan Trainor and Jennifer Hudson and a spectacular fireworks display over the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on July 4th.
The day kicked off in Old City, where some of the oldest American sites are still located. Despite soaring temperatures, thousands of people gathered for the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony at Independence Hall that included a performance by the Philly POPS Big Band.
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Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney then presented special guest Patti LaBelle with a Liberty Bell medal. She also read an excerpt of the Declaration of Independence.
Kenney also presented the Magis Award to former Philadelphia Eagle Connor Barwin for his work revitalizing Philadelphia Parks through his Make the World Better organization.
The Wawa Foundation then presented its Wawa Foundation Hero Award grant of $50,000 to the Pennsylvania Center for Adapted Sports. Three other area nonprofits committed to serving the Greater Philadelphia area received $10,000 grants each.
WWII, Vietnam War and other veterans who fought for America's freedom were also recognized during the ceremony. New members of the military then took the Oath of Enlistment from the front row of the crowd.
The Salute to America Independence Day Parade immediately followed as some 4,000 marchers, floats and personnel from all branches of the military made their way through Independence Mall. Bands from around the country, members of the military and even people dressed up as Star Wars characters joined NBC10 and Telemundo 62 personalities on the parade route.
There was also the opportunity to grab some tasty treats and celebrate citizenship at America's Birthday Party With Betsy Ross and Termini Brothers.
Visitors watched bakers from Philly's iconic Termini Bros. decorate a five-tier birthday cake and then got to taste some of the 2,500 American flag-inspired cupcakes. The crowd sang "Happy Birthday" to America.
The Betsy Ross House then hosted 13 children from seven different countries as they became U.S. citizens. The kids took the Oath of Citizenship, said the Pledge of Allegiance, sang the national anthem and were greeted by Kenney, who encouraged them to study hard and enjoy their new status.
The day ended with the annual Party on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The day-long party featured festivities for all ages, including diverse food offerings and entertainment on the Chill Moody Music Stage and the PA Lottery Philly Groove Stage.
Revelers engaged in activities and games, or cruised above the Parkway on the zip-line. Families enjoyed an interactive Kids Zone featuring crafts, games, live music and storytelling in Aviator Park.
Celebrate America’s birthday with a day-long party filled with festivities for all ages. Indulge in diverse food offerings while enjoying entertainment from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
At 7 p.m., leading ladies Meghan Trainor and Jennifer Hudson brought their hit songs to the Ben Franklin Parkway as headliners of the 2019 Wawa Welcome America July 4th Concert on the Parkway.
Singer and Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson took the main stage with the Philly POPS Big Band first, belting out her hit song "Spotlight" as well as her iconic rendition of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from the Broadway musical Dreamgirls.
After Jennifer, Billboard Hot 100 chart topper and co-headliner Meghan Trainor took the stage, singing her hits "All About That Bass" and "Lips Are Movin."
Following the concert, the Independence Day celebrations continued with a fireworks display choreographed to a custom patriotic soundtrack created and performed by the United States Army Field Band. It was the first time in Welcome America history that the United States Army Field Band performed live on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art as the fireworks lit up the sky above red, white and blue.