This year’s Fourth of July festival begins early, with the focus on Juneteenth.
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Philadelphia’s annual festival celebrating the founding of our nation returns from June through July 4 with a full lineup of individual events, sponsors and city officials announced Wednesday.
Now sponsored by Wawa, the Welcome America Festival has offered the city and region a free Fourth of July concert since its 1993 opening ceremony.
It should not be confused with Made in America, a similarly named music festival founded by Jay-Z that has been running in Philly since 2012. The mix is common: Before the pandemic, both events drew huge crowds in the summer with live shows on Ben. Franklin Parkway.
This year, Welcome America is moving away from Parkway to the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. Although there is no cost, you will still need a ticket to visit the Fairmount Park site. Organizers say this will allow for greater social distancing and other COVID-19 safety precautions.
At 16 days, this year’s slate of events will be the longest in the festival’s history. For the first time, the celebration will include educational programming focused on Juneteenth, a commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States.
Here is a quick description of some Welcome America Schedule Highlight:
- June 19: Hosts the African American Museum in Philadelphia a free, day-long festival, focusing on the history of Juneteenth as it relates to America’s independence
- June 20: “Rocky Is” screening out On the stairs of the Art Museum, a series of films open over the next week
- June 20 to July 4: Dilworth Park and Love Park host the “Broad + Market” festival, which includes dozens of dance companies, concerts, and other performances.
- July 1: Wawa returns to Hogie Day Independence Mall, where Wawa staff voluntarily builds more than 50,000 hoggies for first responders and health care workers.
- July 4: Bebe Rexha and Flo Rida headline a daytime concert at Mannu
- July 4: The fireworks show is back on the parkway after a hiatus last year.
Made in America too announced its 2021 return last week, along with rap and electronic acts for Labor Day weekend in September.
Compare and contrast two festivals, past and present.
Welcome America: To coincide with the opening of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the non-profit Welcome America, Inc. Launched in 1993 by The annual Independence Day celebrations have since gone through several corporate sponsorships. Are you old enough to remember when it was Sunoco Welcome America? Congratulations, you are old. Wawa took over in 2010.
Made in America: Rapper and business mogul Jay-Z founded MIA in 2012. Over the past nine years, it has gone through several different sponsorships. Budweiser Got separated from the festival in 2018 To focus more on “country music activation”
Welcome America: Falling right in the middle of the first wave of the pandemic, Welcome America went completely virtual with a television show starring Jason Derulo and Cynthia Erivo.
Made in America: cancelled.
Welcome America: Free, as our founders intended.
Made in America: Early Bird Tickets $100 and Up, but the prices are now hovering above $160 for the two day pass, According to StubHub. It sounds daunting, but compared to other stamps with major pop artists, some regular attendees consider Made in America a bargain—especially given the central location on the East Coast. Tickets purchased for the festival canceled last year will be valid For this year, according to NJ.com.
Welcome America: Family and kid friendly.
Made in America: Teenagers, young adults and people who want to feel like they are young adults.
Welcome America: Some of the golden lineups in the 90s are: The Pointer Sisters and The Philly Pops (1993) for the opening show; The Beach Boys (1995); Patti LaBelle (1996); Ray Charles (1997); Boyz II Men (1998). This was followed by Earth, Wind and Fire (2000), Hall and Oates (2007) and Elton John with Patti LaBelle (2005). Roots has regularly graced the show since 2010.
Made in America: Jay-Z (duh), Beyoncé (double duh), Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj, Skrillex, J-Cole, John Mayer, Pearl Jam, Modest Mouse, The National, Death Cab for Cutie – too many to count Who among the pop, rap and rock artists from the past decade.
Welcome America: Then-Mayor Michael Nutter Simulating “Rapper’s Delight” With The Roots On stage at the 2015 Independence Day celebrations.
Made in America: Joel Embiid mingled with the crowd at the 2018 show, So Long That he had a better view than you on the shoulders of a friend.
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