Every Fourth of July week, the City of Brotherly Love is normally overtaken by a slew of events happening around the city to celebrate Independence Day. Wawa Welcome America always features multicultural and multigenerational programming aimed to highlight the city’s diverse culture, and this year, the festivities will still be taking place, just virtually instead of in-person. Although 2020 does feel different and will likely not be the same as it was in years past, this red-white-and-blue celebration can still be memorable and enjoyable for all.
According to a release, the 2020 festival will be entirely free and virtual, with a lineup of concerts, online educational activities, behind-the-scenes experiences, cooking demonstrations, at-home crafts, virtual museum tours and more. The festival’s family-friendly programming will also focus on arts, culture, education, wellness, history and performance. Viewers will have a front-row seat from the comfort of home as Wawa Welcome America hosts star-studded performances and exclusive virtual experiences as well, and right now it’s all in full swing.
The Festival officially began on Sunday and will run until Saturday, July Fourth.
There are a few highlights and a few fan favorites that will be back this year. Wawa Hoagie Day for example will still be taking place on Wednesday, July 1. All 900 Wawa locations will be participating in making more than 45,000 hoagies to donate to local community heroes and organizations (including Philabundance) plus first responders, healthcare heroes the USO and more. Hoagie Day kicks off this Wednesday at noon.
Independence Blue Cross will also be hosting their own series for the festival titled the #mindPHL Wellness Corner. This six-part series kicked off Sunday with the theme of exercise and examining how it has an effect on your mental health. June 29th’s theme will be Art and Music; June 30th’s will be Nutrition; July 1 will be Relaxation and Stress Reduction; July 2 will be Connecting with Family and Friends; and July 3 will be Enjoying the Outdoors. Philadelphians can visit the #mindPHL Wellness Corner of the festival’s website daily at 8:30 a.m. to partake in the programming focused on stress reduction, connection and mental health.
PECO will also be hosting its own series of events for Wawa Welcome America as well. The series will be interactive and will act as a way to promote local partners and education through a series of videos, experiences and education. The first portion of the series will take place Monday at 2 p.m. with the Philadelphia Zoo’s Philly Zoo@2 live on Facebook. Philadelphians will get an inside look at what happens behind the scenes at the Zoo with the animals and those who care for them in a way like never before. Then on Tuesday at 10 a.m., Philadelphians can join in on interactive fitness and sports activities for both kids and adults with coaches and staff from Penn Athletics before Wednesday’s activity at 10 a.m. which will be a literacy journey with Sergeant Major Erica Russo of the U.S. Army Field Band and Telemundo 62 Chief Meteorologist, Violeta Yas. Finishing off will be a virtual tour of the Wawa Dairy in Wawa, Pennsylvania, on Thursday at 10 a.m.; a blast from the past with historical stories from Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and more on Friday at 10 a.m.; and then an exclusive tour of Independence National Historical Park with National Park Service experts sharing the stories of the founding of our nation and some of Philadelphia’s most historic landmarks on Saturday at 10 a.m.
According to the release, as part of the annual PECO Go 4th & Learn series, 5,000 books will also be donated to Philadelphia Parks & Recreation for children to enjoy while participating in summer camps and the Playstreets meal program. The donation is courtesy of BooksInHomes USA, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting children in under-resourced communities.
Wawa Welcome America will also be showcasing Museums of the Day throughout the week as part of its programming. Participating museums include the Museum of the American Revolution, the Shofuso Japanese Cultural Center, National Constitution Center, Association of Public Art, the Penn Museum and more. Throughout the week Philadelphians will be able to join in on virtual tours, access to exhibits, interactive activities and more. Philadelphians can also join in on a daily Music Play Patrol where they can rock out from home using everyday items they find around the house. Activities will include playing with pots and pans, making your own shakers, musical storytelling, making your own wind instruments and more.
It wouldn’t be Wawa Welcome America without live music as well, and Philadelphians will get just that. Virtual performances will be presented by the U.S. Army Field Band, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Girls Like Nice Things and The POPS will be doing a special performance on the Fourth as well. To conclude, according to the release, Wawa Welcome America will feature a star-studded performance, with world-renowned Tony, Emmy and Grammy award-winning singer and actress Cynthia Erivo alongside the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia plus a high-energy set from American hit-maker, multi-platinum-selling singer-songwriter, producer, actor and dancer Jason Derulo. Produced in partnership with Live Nation Philadelphia, the performance will be broadcast live on NBC10 from the historic Met Philadelphia on the Independence Blue Cross Stage without an in-person audience on Saturday at 8 p.m.
A full list of scheduled events, links and more information will be posted at welcomeamerica.com