Celebrating Philadelphia’s World Heritage at the 2017 Wawa Welcome America Festival

Article by Melissa Stevens, World Heritage Coordinator.

As the birthplace of America, Philadelphia is the obvious place to celebrate the 4th of July holiday. This year, the Wawa Welcome America festivities featured over 50 free concerts, events, and activities for the whole family over the course of six days, from June 29th to July 4th. Events were not only limited to the Parkway and Center City, but were held throughout our city of neighborhoods, which were recently collectively designated a “National Treasure” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Global Philadelphia partnered with Wawa Welcome America and the City of Philadelphia to promote the city’s World Heritage City status to visitors and residents alike.

One of the Festival’s featured events was the World Heritage City Exhibition at the Philadelphia International Airport. The exhibit was on display in Terminal A-East for the entire festival and will remain on display over the next year. The exhibit was created by the airport’s Chief Curator Leah Douglas and features images of and information about Philadelphia’s 67 National Historic Landmarks, and highlights the UNESCO World Heritage site of Independence Hall. The display also showcases Philadelphia’s status as a World Heritage City, with banners explaining the significance of and reason for the designation to the thousands of international travelers who pass through the airport every day.

Visitors who did not arrive by plane were still able to see evidence of Philadelphia’s World Heritage City status. The World Heritage City seal was prominently displayed on the stage at the Philadelphia POPS concert at Independence Hall, and was featured on Wawa Welcome America’s website and promotional materials. The Philadelphia World Heritage Coloring Book made its public debut during the Wells Fargo Citywide Community Day on Saturday, July 1st. Hosted by The Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy and Wawa Welcome America, these series of free, family-friendly pop-ups occurred simultaneously in 10 public parks, squares and plazas throughout Philadelphia neighborhoods and featured performances, hip hop dancing, jazz, and storytelling. Children attending these events could further explore Philadelphia’s cultural and historical heritage through the fun and engaging exploits of Caleb and Olivia, the two children featured in the World Heritage Coloring Book. Overall, the Wawa Welcome America Festival was a lively celebration of Philadelphia’s unique history and bright future as a World Heritage City.

Click here to view photos of the festival.