Fireworks, food, and films at 10-day Welcome America!

Fireworks burst above the Philadelphia Museumof Art. The National Constitution Center and Wawa Welcome America are offering Fourth of July events.
Fireworks burst above the Philadelphia Museumof Art. The National Constitution Center and Wawa Welcome America are offering Fourth of July events.
Posted: June 08, 2012

Besides the traditional hoagies and fireworks, this year's Wawa Welcome America Festival will serve up attractions appealing to cross-generational audiences.

A free outdoor screening of The Great Gatsby at 9 p.m. June 25 in Rittenhouse Square will help get the party started. As a special treat, event organizers said Wednesday, a limited number of tickets will be available to the public to preview The Amazing Spider-Man, before its July 3 nationwide release. No date has been set for the indoor screening at Rave Motion Pictures in University City.

The Roots Mural Project will combine the talents of six local artists and celebration attendees, who will be able to paint portions of a mural that officials plan, in October, to apply to a wall in South Philadelphia. (The wall has not yet been selected.) Participants can paint a portion of the mural from 2 to 5 p.m. July 3 on the lawn of the Independence Visitor Center.

The three-day Taste of Philadelphia starts June 29, when select food trucks will take to the Chestnut Street Bridge, and jazz and blues musicians will perform at the waterfront.

Wawa Hoagie Day returns to the Independence Visitor Center lawn on June 27 and will feature a 1.5-mile-long hoagie. Local police officers, firefighters, and members of the military will also compete in a hoagie-building contest to benefit charities.

At a news conference Wednesday to announce this year's events, Melanie Johnson, city representative, said about 300 volunteers were expected to help with the celebration. Johnson honored Center City resident Pearl Carpel, 87, with the Wawa Welcome America title of Volunteer of the Year.

Carpel has been involved with Welcome America since 1993, Johnson said.

"Every year it comes fast, and every year I have a good time," Carpel said. "I volunteer in the parade. I love walking."

The celebration is held not only to celebrate America's birthday, officials said, but also to attract people to the country's birthplace.

The 10 days of celebration lead up to several July Fourth events. The Philadelphia Independence Day Parade will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. At night, fireworks and musical guests are slated to bring the celebration to a close.

The Roots' Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, musical director for the festival, will bring the Roots, as well as Queen Latifah, Daryl Hall, Common, and Joe Jonas, to the annual free concert July Fourth from 7 to 10 p.m. on the Parkway. Other yet-to-be-named special guests are expected to perform, too.

For the second year, a singer/songwriter competition will be held June 30. Applicants selected as finalists for the competition will perform before a panel of judges on the River Stage at Penn's Landing and will win a four-hour studio session with local music producers.

For more information on Welcome America, go to http://www.welcomeamerica.com Contact Angelo Fichera at afichera@philly.com or 215-854-4904, or follow on Twitter @AJFichera.

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