America’s birthday party celebrates freedom, community

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Wawa Welcome America may be the USA’s biggest birthday bash.
Welcome America’s culminating “4th of July Jam” free concert on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway may have had a hand in the organizers of Live 8 choosing Philly back in 2005 as one of the concert cities.
The seven days of free family fun in Philadelphia gets underway this weekend. The complete schedule can be found at www.welcomeamerica.com, but here are some of the highlights.
JUNE 30: *“Go 4th and Learn.” Starting at 10 a.m., enjoy free admission at the Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and check out the hands-on Wawa Dairy exhibit. The first 200 children will receive a free book.
*Philly @ the Movies: Disney’s “Frozen” starts at 9 p.m. on Franklin Square, 128 N. Third St. Along with the movie, enjoy mini golf, giveaways and carousel rides.
JULY 1: *Philadelphia Orchestra Neighborhood Concert at 8 p.m. the RiverStage at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, off Columbus Boulevard. The free concert is followed by a “land-side” fireworks show.
*“Go 4th & Learn About Fitness.” From 10 a.m. to noon at the Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse, 3500 Reservoir Drive, break a sweat at the 6.5 acre playground, which includes the Ann Newman Giant Wooden Slide and more than 50 “age-appropriate and accessible” pieces of play equipment. The first 200 children will receive a free book.
JULY 2: *“Go 4th & Learn About History.” Starting at 10 a.m., enjoy free admission at the National Constitution Center, 525 Arch St., which will have special programs, live music and an exhibition on the history of the hoagie.
*Wawa Hoagie Day kicks off at noon on Independence Mall. It means 4.5 tons worth of hoagies served free to thousands.
*Philly @ the Movies: “Rocky” starts at 9 p.m. on the steps that Sylvester Stallone’s character made iconic at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

JULY 3: Bring a blanket or lawn chairs for “POPS! On Independence” with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops at 8 p.m. on the steps of Independence Hall, Sixth and Chestnut streets.
JULY 4: *The Celebration of Freedom Ceremony from 10 to 11 a.m. on the steps of Independence Hall, Sixth and Chestnut streets, includes music and a reading of excerpts from the Declaration of Independence. This year’s ceremony will recognize the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and of the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.
*More than 5,000 people will participate in the Independence Day Parade 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through the historic area where America’s independence was officially declared.
*Party on the Parkway will be on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from noon to 7 p.m., from 20th Street to the Eakins Oval. Check out activities, music stages, games and food.
*Starting at 7 p.m., the Philly 4th of July Jam will include Vicci Martinez, Ariana Grande, Aloe Blacc, Jennifer Hudson, Nicki Minaj, Ed Sheeran and The Roots. Fittingly, the festivities close with a fireworks display at the conclusion of the concert over the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Get social with #PhillyOwnsThe4th on Instagram, @July4thPhilly on Twitter and www.facebook.com/WawaWelcomeAmerica.
Intrigue at Valley Forge
There’s rumor of a plot to kidnap George Washington at Valley Forge and your help is needed to uncover the traitors involved. It’s “Valley Forge Secrets & Spies” at 1 p.m. Saturdays at Valley Forge National Park in Upper Merion. Learn 18th century spy techniques, including invisible ink, counterespionage and looking for secret messages as young guests work with operatives to foil the plot. The free tours depart from the train station at General Washington’s Headquarters. Start by going to the Visitor Center at 1400 Outer Line Drive.
How USA was born
There’s an All-American Celebration, running 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Independence Mall at the National Constitution Center, Independence Visitor Center and Independence National Historical Park. July 3-5 there’s “Crafting and Gaming” outside of the Independence Visitor Center as 18th and 19th century Philadelphians invite you to roll hoops, and see demonstrations of 18th century crafts, including three-tone watercolor painting and scrimshaw.
JULY 3: Continental Army cannon drills at 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Members of a re-enactment group will be camped out all day on the Mall demonstrating military life during the American Revolution. After the morning cannon drill will be a Town Crier’s reading of today’s events on the Mall.
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., it’s “A Soldier’s Life.” Join a Revolutionary-era soldier as he discusses the daily lifestyle of an infantryman in the Continental Army.
From noon to 2 p.m. meet and greet Benjamin Franklin at the Independence Visitor Center and George and Martha Washington under the marquee tent on the Mall, outside the Independence Visitor Center.
All able-bodied future soldiers can report to the Signers’ Garden at Fifth and Chestnut streets for a military muster, where “a few good kids,” along with George Washington and the West Jersey Artillery, will participate in musket-firing drills.
From 2 to 4 p.m. meet and greet Thomas Paine at the Independence Visitor Center.
JULY 4: Continental Army cannon drill at 12:30 and 4 p.m. Major Samuel Nichols, founder of the U.S. Marine Corps, observes the West Jersey Artillery at the morning drill, then holds a meet and greet under the marquee tent.
From 1 to 3 p.m. meet and greet John Adams at the Historic Philadelphia Center, Sixth and Chestnut streets.
From 2 to 4 p.m. meet and greet Oney Judge, an enslaved personal servant of Martha Washington, at the Independence Visitor Center.
From 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. meet and greet Benjamin and Deborah Franklin at the National Constitution Center.
JULY 5: Continental Army cannon drill at 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Molly Pitcher demonstrates the roles of women and camp followers during the American Revolution at the morning drill.
“A Soldier’s Life” at 11 a.m. outside the Independence Visitor Center.
Meet and greet Baron Von Steuben from noon to 1:30 p.m. under the marquee tent on the Mall, followed by a debate between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution from 1:30 to 3:30.
Meet and greet civil rights pioneer Octavius Catto 3 to 5 p.m. at the Historic Philadelphia Center.
Historic Philadelphia’s daily tours, storytelling and family activities is like watching history come to life right where the United States began. And if you haven’t checked these out yet, now is a perfect time. Call (877) 462-1776 or visit www.historicphiladelphia.org.
**The Betsy Ross House, 239 Arch St., hosts a free “Betsy’s Independence Day Bash” 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 4, with children’s activities, a children’s naturalization ceremony at 1:30 and a ceremonial bell ringing at 2.
**Hear dramatic readings of the Declaration of Independence at 3:45 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays June 28-July 8 behind Independence Hall.
**For the week of Independence Day, a Tippler’s Tour colonial pub crawl is set for 5:30 p.m. July 3. It departs from the Historic Philadelphia Center, and cost is $40, $35 for seniors, military personnel and students (tastings and gratuity included; need to be 21 or over with ID).
**The Franklin Square family play place at Sixth and Race streets, steps away from the Liberty Bell, in one of William Penn’s original five squares. It opens at 10 a.m. daily. From noon to 3 p.m. July 4-6, play carnival games for 25 cents per play, and ride the Lightning Bolt Express Train for $5 for adults, $4 for children.
**Independence After Hours tours visit some of the landmarks of Philadelphia’s, along with colonial character visits. The evening begins with a three-course meal at the Historic City Tavern. Meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays at the Historic Philadelphia Center at Sixth and Chestnut streets. Cost is $85, $55 for children 12 and under, $80 for seniors, military personnel and students (dining gratuity included). Add on Liberty 360 3D Show for $5.
**From June 28–July 8 the Liberty 360 3D Show runs every 20 minutes in the PECO Theater of the Historic Philadelphia Center 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
**Once Upon A Nation Storytelling Benches are open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays at the Independence Visitor Center, Historic Philadelphia Center, Independence Square behind Independence Hall, the Signers’ Garden, Carpenters’ Hall, Franklin Court, Christ Church, the Betsy Ross House, the National Constitution Center and Franklin Square.
**Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and till 6 p.m. Sundays, the Historic Philadelphia Center offers “Colonial For A Day,” where children can don colonial period attire and immerse themselves in their Historic Philadelphia visit. The rented attire can be enhanced with a variety of accessories for purchase at the Historic Philadelphia Center gift shop, including mob caps, bonnets, bows, tri-corner hats and wooden muskets. While at the Historic Philadelphia Center, visitors can picture themselves in 1776 at the green screen photo booth. Cost is $24.95 per person for full-day rental.
Follow HPI on Twitter @HistoricPhilly, on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/HistoricPhila, or on Instagram #historicphilly.
Follow Brian Bingaman on Twitter @brianbingaman.

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