PHILADELPHIA, (Wednesday, June 29, 2016) – Philadelphia is rolling out the red-white-and-blue carpet to residents and visitors at the ongoing Wawa Welcome America! festival, which ends with a spectacular concert and grand fireworks finale on July 4th. From an old-fashioned summer block party – Philly-style – to one of the nation’s largest patriotic free concerts, the schedule features free, family-friendly events in the greatest place anywhere to celebrate America’s birthday.
“On July 4th, Wawa Welcome America! will showcase our historic city, from the patriotic pageantry of Independence Mall to the iconic Benjamin Franklin Parkway later that day, featuring the Party on the Parkway, a Philly concert and fireworks,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Our focus this year is on the City of Neighborhoods – from the Rocky steps to your front steps — by honoring our everyday-citizen heroes with the new Philadelphia Magis Award and sponsor Wawa’s Hero Award. We also have increased our events, with nearly 70 free grassroots celebrations in our communities.”
Today, City and Wawa Welcome America! officials released operational details for the remainder of the citywide festival including extensive event activities on July 4th:
Citywide events highlight America’s Independence and celebrate everything Philadelphia — from history to entertainment. The 2016 Wawa Welcome America! festival presented by Comcast showcases a fabulous fusion of Philadelphia’s culture, heritage and hospitality. The 8-day festival, from Monday June 27 to Monday July 4, features 35 events and 350 performers in Center City and in the neighborhoods. The festival includes the nation’s most diverse Independence Day Parade, Historic Philadelphia Block Party,’ free outdoor movies, ‘Party on the Parkway’ and its famous fireworks finale. Celebrity performances on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will headline the largest free concert in America – the Wawa Welcome America July 4th Concert. The Philly-flavored five-hour, non-stop live concert begins at an earlier time, 5 p.m., (with two more hours of continuous live music) cumulating with a massive fireworks display. The celebration will be broadcast live in the Philadelphia area on NBC10 and broadcasted for the first time in Spanish on Telemundo62.
Performers include: Neo-soul sensation Leon Bridges; West Philly’s Tony Award winner Leslie Odom Jr., of the breakout Broadway musical Hamilton; actor-rapper Yazz the Greatest, also of West Philly, and the star of Fox TV’s hit series Empire; local Latin vocal group Viva Mas; Philadelphia’s Brotherly Love, a five-member a cappella group whose fame soared after an impromptu backstage performance for President Obama; a high-energy celebration of the “Sound of Philadelphia” with a tribute to music legends Gamble & Huff highlighting performances by The O’Jays, Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes, The Intruders, with the Urban Guerrilla Orchestra, and the “POPS on the Parkway” featuring a 65-piece orchestra and patriotic performances with Philadelphia-native guest vocalists, Broadway’s The Lion King’s, Allison Blackwell and international Opera star Justin Hopkins.
Many areas across the city including streets near Independence Mall and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will be impacted by Wawa Welcome America! activities. Expect delays. Motorists are advised to use alternate routes, avoid areas near Wawa Welcome America! activities, allow for extra driving time and proceed with caution near these events. Due to increased activity and security in both the areas of the Parkway and historic district, parking and traffic regulations will be strictly enforced. Many roads adjacent to event sites will be posted with no-parking signage for the general public. The following are the scheduled road closures:
Wednesday, June 29 – Philly @ the Movies
Expect congestion in the Art Museum/ Eakins Oval area, from 5 p.m. to midnight, due to the Philly @ the Movies showing of “Rocky” on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the Parkway.
Thursday, June 30 – Various festival activities & locations
- There will be no major disruption to traffic patterns in Center City.
- Wawa Hoagie Day will be held on Independence Mall in the morning and afternoon, along Market Street, between 5th and 6th Motorists can expect area congestion. No streets in the area are closed for this event.
Friday, July 1 and Saturday, July 2 – Evening activities at Penn’s Landing: Philadelphia Orchestra Neighborhood Concert and Fireworks and U.S. Army Band Pershing’s Own Concert & Fireworks
- On both nights, a concert will be held at Penn’s Landing (on Delaware Avenue/Columbus Boulevard), with a fireworks’ display at the conclusion of each concert. Motorists can anticipate congestion and are urged to use caution in the area due to a high number of pedestrians expected in the area.
Saturday, July 2 – Preparation for the July 4th concert and fireworks in Ben Franklin Parkway area
- The inner lanes of the Parkway will be closed, between 20th and Eakins Oval, from July 2nd at 2 p.m. through 5 a.m. on Tuesday, July 5
Sunday, July 3 – Historic Philadelphia Block Party & the POPS on Independence Concert on Independence Mall
- 5th Street, between Market and Chestnut streets, and 6th Street, between Arch and Chestnut streets, will be closed to vehicular traffic, from 7 a.m. until midnight.
- Chestnut Street, between 5th and 6th streets, will be closed to vehicular traffic, from 7 a.m. on Sunday, July 3d through Monday, July 4th at 5 p.m.
Monday, July 4 – Celebration of Freedom Ceremony, Parade & other day-long activities in the Independence Mall area
- Chestnut Street, between 5th and 6th streets, will be closed to vehicular traffic, from 7 a.m. on Sunday, July 3rd through Monday, July 4th at 5 p.m.
- The following closures will be in effect related to the parade (all times are approximate):
- From 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Chestnut Street, 5th to Front streets; 3rd Street from Chestnut to Walnut Street, 4th Street, from Market to Chestnut streets, and Front Street, from Market to Walnut streets.
- From 10:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Chestnut Street, from 6th to 9th streets; 9th Street, from Chestnut to Market streets, and Market Street, from 9th to Front streets. All cross streets (8th, 7th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd) will be closed during the parade one block back from the parade route to allow traffic to be diverted around the route.
- All streets affected by the parade will be cleaned before re-opening to vehicular traffic.
- The Sons of the Revolution Parade will require the closure of Walnut Street, from 2nd to 6th streets for about 10 minutes while the parade moves to its dispersal point at Independence Hall.
Monday, July 4 – Party on the Parkway & Philly 4th Concert & Fireworks in the Benjamin Franklin Parkway area
- A limited-access perimeter (event participants and residents only) will be established on July 4th –from 18th to 25th streets — and from Race Street to Pennsylvania Avenue, 5 a.m. to midnight.
- The entire width of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will be closed to vehicular traffic, from 5 a.m. to midnight.
- The Parkway, from 20th to 25th streets, will be closed for extensive cleanup overnight until about 5 a.m. on Tuesday, July 5th.
City officials urge the public to either walk to the events or take SEPTA. Public transportation is an easy way to get in and out of Center City or around the historic district. SEPTA will add service on July 4th in Center City and expand operations before and after events to accommodate holiday travelers including those attending the Welcome America festivities. All SEPTA Regional Rail, bus, trolley, Market-Frankford and Broad Street Line Service will operate on a Sunday schedule on Monday, July 4th, with additional late-night service to accommodate spectators leaving from activities on the Parkway.
Planned service changes include:
Market-Frankford Line: A total of eight extra trains will be deployed to provide service every five-to-seven minutes starting at 12:30 p.m. These extra trips will run until 12:30 a.m. to help customers get home after the event. Market-Frankford Line Night Owl buses will replace trains at 12:30 a.m. SEPTA’s 15th Street Station provides riders access to and from the Parkway festivities.
Broad Street Line: Eight extra trains will be dispatched to provide service every five-to-seven minutes starting at 12:30 p.m. These service levels will remain in effect until 12:30 a.m., when Night Owl bus service will replace trains. Several Broad Street Line stations are within walking distance of the event, including Spring Garden, Race-Vine and City Hall.
Regional Rail: SEPTA will extend its Regional Rail service for customers leaving Center City after the fireworks. A total of 19 trains will depart from Suburban Station between 10:45 p.m. and 12:35 a.m. Trains will make all local stops. An Independence Day Late Night Service Schedule is available at http://www.septa.org/events/holiday.html.
Trolleys: Additional trips will be added on Routes 10, 11, 13, 34 and 36 after the fireworks as needed. Please note that the Route 10 is currently using buses in place of trolleys due to construction.
Buses: Bus riders should be on alert regarding detours that will be in place for road closures related to the festivities on the Parkway and around Center City. Details about bus detours are posted on the System Status section of SEPTA’s website at http://www.septa.org/realtime/status/system-status.shtml. System Status lists information for all scheduled bus detours, and will also include updates on any unexpected service adjustments.
To speed up return trips home, passengers are encouraged to buy fares in advance. For complete holiday service information, visit http://www.septa.org/events/holiday.html. For details on fares and trip-planning tools, visit www.septa.org or call SEPTA Customer Service at (215) 580-7800. Service updates are available on Twitter by following @SEPTA. Specific bus detours and service updates are available at http://www.septa.org/realtime/status/system-status.shtml.
Check service schedules and surface bus detours posted online at http://septa.org/events/holiday.html.
For information on NJTransit routes and schedules on July 4th, visit www.njtransit.org
Philly PHLASH Downtown Bus Loop
The Philly PHLASH Downtown Bus Loop will operate a special holiday service on Monday, July 4th. For only $2 per ride or $5 per day, the PHLASH is the quick, convenient, and affordable way to access 22 key destinations across the city. Purchase passes (with exact change) onboard, at any Visitor Center location, or online. For updated holiday route detour and schedule information, visit www.PhillyPHLASH.com, or call 800-537-7676.
For-pay parking lots and garages conveniently are located on or near the Parkway. Call individual facilities ahead for parking options, prices and availability, or visit the Philadelphia Parking Authority website for information on some of these parking facilities at http://philapark.org/. In the historic district, there are many options including the AutoPark garage underneath the Independence Visitor Center at 5th and 6th streets, between Market and Arch streets: http://www.philapark.org/autopark-at-independence-mall/
Venue Rules and Public Safety Information
The vicinity of the Parkway and concert (a boundary from at least 20th & the Parkway to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and adjacent areas), will be firmly secured and protected for maximum public safety. Throughout July 4th, the city will provide a strong presence of law enforcement and emergency medical services. The City and Welcome America! will utilize a network of local, state and federal prevention and response services, which will be integrated, mobile and in constant communication.
The public can do their part by using common sense. If you are attending the July 4th activities, make a plan regarding driving, public transit, parking, supervision of children and wearing comfortable attire.
City officials are encouraging the public to come and enjoy the festival activities through July 4th.
To ensure a fun and safe festival experience, City officials are urging the public to refrain from bringing alcohol, coolers, open containers or cooking equipment. Barbecuing on the Parkway, contraband and illegal substances (firearms or fireworks) are absolutely prohibited.
Keep possessions and bags with you at all times, and do no leave unattended.
In emergencies or to report a suspicious person, activity or item (a backpack, package, or container), notify a police officer immediately or call 9-1-1. Do not try to open, move, cover or touch a suspicious item.
Information booths on the Parkway and EMS first aid stations are located on the north and south sides of 23rd Street and the Parkway.
Take missing or lost persons, including children, to first aid stations.
Lost and Found (unsuspicious) items can be taken to various Information Tents along the Parkway.
“Location markers” will be posted to clearly and easily identify a location or section (by letter and number, for example: K-1) to facilitate communicating in the event of an emergency.
- Emergency Weather and Alerts:
In the case of severe weather, listen for announcements and sign up online ahead of time to receive emergency texts or e-mail alerts at ReadyPhiladelphia: www.phila.gov/ready. Plan for a safe informed holiday.
- Heat-related precautions Information:
With potential high temperatures, there is a risk of heat-related health issues. EMS personnel will be on duty all day at an accessible First Aid Station and will be on patrol to monitor activities. Many heat stress or heat exhaustion issues can be avoided by taking simple precautions.
- Follow all proper precautions to protect yourselves and your families against the heat elements.
- All festival-goers should stay hydrated by drinking lots of water; avoid non-alcoholic liquids, caffeine and excessive layers of clothing.
- Consider the Three L’s Rule: light-colored, lightweight and loose-fitting. Wear garments made of natural fibers like cotton.
For more tips to beat the heat, visit http://www.welcomeamerica.com
Cultural and Historical Institutions
On July 4, at Independence National Historical Park, Congress Hall, West Wing and Old City Hall will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Center will remain open, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., from July 1 through July 4th.
For information about free events and programs celebrating Independence Day in Independence National Historical Park and Historic Philadelphia, visit the Independence Visitor Center at 6th and Market Streets, or online at PHLvisitorcenter.com/July4 (http://www.phlvisitorcenter.com/july4). Share your experience enjoying America’s Birthday in its Birthplace on social media using #HistoricPhilly. The July 4th schedules for cultural institutions in the Benjamin Franklin Parkway area vary; some museums will maintain normal Saturday hours, while others are closed. For more information, visit parkwaymuseumsdistrict.org.
Portable toilets, including ADA-compliant units, will be available throughout the Ben Franklin Parkway, from 21 Street to Art Museum Drive.
All streets will be cleaned after each event and trash containers emptied in the vicinity of Wawa Welcome America! festivities. Trash and recyclables citywide will not be collected on Monday.
Most City offices will be closed while many City services will be curtailed on July 4 — a legal holiday.
Wawa Welcome America! is a multi-day festival that celebrates America’s birthday in America’s birthplace, Philadelphia. Wawa joined the festival as the title sponsor in 2010. For more information, please visit www.welcomeamerica.com.
About Wawa Welcome America Inc.
Welcome America, Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit organization founded in 1993 with a mission to produce Philadelphia’s official July 4th celebration with free events for residents and visitors. The festival is produced in partnership with the City of Philadelphia. For more information, please visit www.welcomeamerica.com. Join the conversation by liking us on Facebook (Facebook.com/WawaWelcomeAmerica) and following us on Twitter and Instagram (@July4thPhilly) #JULY4THPHILLY.