Wawa gives away 18,000 hoagies

Posted: July 03, 2014

IT WAS Arnaldo Cardona's first time at Wawa's Annual Hoagie Day celebration yesterday, and though he was dressed in a black T-shirt and dripped sweat, he didn't let the 93-degree weather spoil his mood.

While others held umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun and fanned themselves with maps from the National Constitution Center, Cardona shimmied his shoulders and moved his feet to Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" blasting over the speakers to the crowd.

"I'm hoping there's going to be a nice, big sandwich for me," said Cardona, 28, of North Philly.

Yesterday, he was among thousands who waited in line for a free sandwich at Independence Mall during Wawa's 22nd annual Hoagie Day, part of the weeklong Wawa Welcome America Festival.

About 150 Wawa employees and volunteers helped build a 5-ton hoagie on the first floor of the National Constitution Center, where the corporation also provided free admission to guests. The sandwich - the equivalent of more than 18,000 Shorti hoagies - was served at noon with more than 10,000 pounds of ingredients. The first 5,000 sandwiches were given to Philabundance.

Matt Duca, a manager at Wawa on Grant Avenue near Blue Grass Road in the Northeast, woke up at 3:30 a.m. to be a part of the team that crafted the giant hoagie from 5 to 11 a.m.

"It's a good feeling," said Duca, 48, of South Philly. "We do it for the people. We're giving back to the community."

For Wawa, this year - its 50th in retail - was about "hometown heroes." The corporation honored 50 members of the Air National Guard and Army National Guard, returning soldiers, local police and firefighters and members of the United Service Organization, presenting the nonprofit organization with a $100,000 check from Wawa and the Wawa Foundation.

Five of the 50 honorees are Wawa associates. One of them, Dan McKeon, 38, of Springfield, Delaware County, returned to his job at Wawa's IT department last month after his deployment in the Horn of Africa with the United States Army Reserve.

Yesterday, he joined his wife and two children during the celebration.

"I can't tell you how great it is to return to Wawa and all the patriotism they showed me," he said.

More food: Hamburgers. From France.

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