During the proceedings, 13 men and women from 10 nations took the oath of allegiance to become U.S. citizens, the bells atop Independence Hall tolled 13 times for the original colonies and actress Ellen Burstyn read excepts from the Declaration of Independence.
After listing the reasons for breaking free of England and enumerating the unalienable rights the 56 male signers claimed, the Oscar and Tony winner earned extra cheers when she offered a postscript: "I would just like to add that goes for women, too."
Afterwards, a two-hour parade snaked through the streets. In addition to including historic regiments, drum-and-bugle corps, and marching bands, the spectacle recalled Sept. 11 and paid tribute to each branch of the military, police, and fire and emergency workers. Bagpipers in tartan kilts and other Highland regalia played "Amazing Grace" as they marched.
Spectators on both sides of Market Street watched as a tanker trunk from Shanksville, Pa. - where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field after passengers overpowered hijackers on Sept. 11 - drove slowly down the street.
Some floats and marching groups highlighted contributions that ethnic groups have made to their communities in the United States. Resplendent in their vibrant costumes, dancers from Virginia's Caporales San Simon USA gave parade-watchers a glimpse of Boliva's culture.
Throughout the celebration, demonstrators from what has been billed as the Occupy movement's first National Gathering, who were staked out at Franklin Square, mingled with the thousands who thronged the historic district, at times making their presence known, though causing no disruption.
During the opening ceremonies, several Occupy members in pink and green tops briefly massed on Independence Mall's lawn to spell out "Revolution Now" before many of them found seats in the crowd.
As the official parade snaked through the historic district shortly after 11 a.m., Jim Ulrich, 51, of Appleton, Wisc., began to argue with some Occupy members who were walking up Market Street. The electrical engineer told them he does not like the way the movement uses the term "99 percent," he later reported.
"I just don't like that phrase," said Ulrich, who said he was in Philadelphia because his children were competing in an annual chess tournament in Center City.
" 'Ninety-nine percent' demonizes the wealthy people who make up businesses and create jobs. All the people I work for are in the so-called 'one percent,' " he said.
Standing on the sidewalk a few feet away, Nancy Mancias observed Ulrich's conversation.
Mancias, 42, had come all the way from San Francisco to spend the July 4th week in Philadelphia and to participate in Occupy's five-day event. Dressed in pink clothes bearing Occupy slogans and shielding herself from the sun with a pink parasol, Mancias posed for photos with tourists and holiday spectators.
"We have people here engaged in a heated, passionate discussion about politics in the front yard of Independence Hall," said Mancias, who runs a vocational program in Marin County, Calif.
"I just think that's what we should be doing instead of having barbecues and taking advantage of Fourth of July sales. This is what the country is all about."
Contact Martha Woodall at 215-854-2789 or at email@example.com.