Philadelphia, PA - Independence Hall hosted America ‘s 242nd anniversary of Independence was celebrated during a week-long festival in Philadelphia, PA on July 4th.
The City of Philadelphia and Wawa Welcome America Philadelphia Festival held many free events and activities throughout the city, culminating in an amazing party that spanned many parts of the city of brotherly love. However, the festivities on July 4th began with the Wawa Welcome America Celebration of Freedom Ceremony.
A musical salute by The Philly Pops introduced and alerted the crowd that the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony was underway. Following it was a more somber observance for those who served to fight for our freedoms. In recognition of our nation’s original 13 colonies, a bell rang 13 times as the crowd stood silent in respect to those whose lives were lost. Afterwards, residents and travelers to the city of Philadelphia witnessed the ceremonious raising of the United States Flag.
Once proudly raised, the flag held as a reminder of what our country was formed for; the unalienable human rights to have equality in life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.
As the flag flew overhead, the crowd listened as they learned more about our history, and how that it relevant still today. That same audience was treated to another performance by The Philly POPS, accompanied by a young singer with a powerful voice, Chaitali Kidd, from the Delaplaine McDaniel School, which is a POPS in Schools elementary school program.
We also learned that South Philadelphia resident, Giana Graves, won The Philadelphia MAGIS Award as presented by Mayor Jim Kenney. While waiting to hear from Ginana, who would receive the esteemed award, I could hear from the crowd’s reaction that they were equally impressed with Graves’ personal story and why the transgender 22 year-old activist won the award. See.. Philadelphia Magis Award Presented Transgender Activist
As applause sounded throughout the crowd, four men from the North Philadelphia NOMAD Rugby Team took the stage and read the Declaration of Independence together. While doing so The Philly POPS played “America the Beautiful”—with the Independence Hall in the background the scene could not exemplify patriotism at such an awe-inspiring level.
After listening and seeing a moment of Philadelphia’s history unfold before their own eyes, the President and CEO of Wawa, Inc. and Jay Culotta (President of the Wawa Foundation) presented the nominees for this year’s Everyday Hero Award, and described why they were nominated.
The winner of the Wawa Foundation Hero Award went to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia, along with a grant of $50K to continue all their charitable efforts in the community. However, all the nominees were allotted a smaller grant amount, so all the philanthropic nominees were celebrated for their daily win-worthy efforts.
The opening ceremony event at Independence Hall closed after further performances by Philly POPS Youth, closing remarks by the Philadelphia City Representative Sheila Hess, and Stars and Stripes were played by The Philly POPS.
However that was not the end of all the great festivities happening in the area—there was a delightful parade about to begin!