Flag Fest will be one of the first in-person festivals in Philly after COVID-19

Betsy Ross House
PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Philadelphia slowly but surely has been opening back up and allowing some COVID restrictions to ease while still being vigilant, and now there are some more advancements coming in to bring some normalcy back to the city.

Flag Festival, one of Philly’s most historic events dating back to 1891, will be one of the first in-person festivals to return after the pandemic. Last year, the Old City organization had to switch to the virtual front, but for 2021, Historic Philadelphia is excited to bring back the festivities in a more formal fashion. The event spans a full week from June 13-19, and will feature a slew of opportunities for all ages— from photo ops to a flag made of chocolate candy and everything in between.

The Betsy Ross House hosted its first Flag Day event on June 14 about two centuries ago and  has long been the site of the city’s official commemoration. In 2008, the star-spangled celebrations of the early 19th century were revived and, since then, the House has hosted a full slate of events, spanning all of National Flag Week.

To kick off the event, at 10 a.m. on June 13, Betsy Ross herself will raise the flag over the courtyard and unveil the 50-star M&M’S flag that is being created by the Betsy Ross House staff in partnership with Mars Wrigley. According to the release, the candy standard, measuring nearly six by twelve feet, will be displayed in the courtyard. Visitors are invited to take pictures with the unique flag and share them using the hashtag #mmsflag or tag the Betsy Ross House on social media and enjoy free samples of everyone’s favorite candy.

Then on Flag Day itself, June 14, Philadelphians can watch from their homes as the house will welcome 13 new citizens in a private event streamed live on Facebook, and then, join Betsy Ross on-site for a flag history program beginning at 11 a.m.

The fun continues in the Old City area. During that week (June 10-14), after visiting the House, ticket buyers can bring their ticket stub to the Museum of the American Revolution for a $2 discount. The Museum located a few blocks away will be displaying a Dutch flag made by the House’s Betsy interpreters as part of its True Colours Flag Project, which features recreations of the large flags flown by privateers and navy ships at sea during the Revolutionary War. On top of the Dutch flag, the MOAR also has the brand-new special exhibit Flags and Founding Documents, 1776-today, on view from June 12 until Sept. 6 of this year.

The special events happening at the house itself will continue throughout the entirety of the week and include Once Upon A Nation storytellers, meeting with suffragists Frances Harper and Alice Paul, learning about colonial chocolate making, flag-raising ceremonies and more. On the final day, The Betsy Ross House will also be joining in celebrating Juneteenth on the final day of Flag Fest, Saturday, June 19. The U.S. Colored Troops join Betsy to raise both the 13-star American and Juneteenth flags, and visitors will meet Rev. Richard Allen beginning at 11 a.m.

According to the release, in addition to Flag Fest 2021 programming, there will also be free admission for the first 100 visitors each day of Flag Week, sponsored by a patriotic friend of the Betsy Ross House in honor of those affected by Covid-19. All other programs are then free with admission. The Betsy Ross House is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily starting Memorial Day weekend with admission coming out to $7 for adults and $6 for children/students/seniors/active military. An optional audio guide is $9 and $8, which includes admission. The safety and comfort of guests and staff continues to be a priority as well: Air purifiers have been added to each room and exhibition gallery and staff will continue to follow enhanced cleaning protocols. The House asks for visitors’ patience with possible increased wait times as staff members use their discretion n managing crowd size during peak hours. In accordance with federal, state and local guidelines, masks will continue to be required in the House.

To find out find out more information about the Betsy Ross House and Flag Fest, visit historicphiladelphia.org

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