PW's July 4th Weekend Picks

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Friday, July 4

Wawa’s Welcome America
‘Twas 238 years ago this Friday that a ragtag group of colonials decided enough was enough and officially declared this nation’s sovereignty from England, and no city in America celebrates this day of independence better than Philadelphia—thanks, in part, to the wide-ranging annual Wawa Welcome America festivities, which are already in progress.

Not hosting a backyard BBQ on Friday’s July 4th holiday? The Celebration of Freedom ceremony promises readings of excerpts of the Declaration of Independence, with a particular focus on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as the 60th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board Supreme Court decision. The Independence Day Parade follows, during which 5,000 people will traipse through America’s most historic square mile, concluding with the ceremonial tapping of the Liberty Bell. The all-day Party on the Parkway is set for the length of the beautiful Ben Franklin Parkway, where, directly afterwards, The Roots return for the “largest free concert in America,” with special guests Ed Sheeran, Jennifer Hudson, Nicki Minaj, Aloe Blacc and Ariana Grande. Plan to stick around for the fireworks. // KENNEDY ALLEN

4th of July GI Jane Party
The Venture Inn hosts an all-night dance party featuring drink specials, push-up and arm-wrestling contests and loads of Twizzlers. There will also be a screening of GI Jane, starring Demi Moore; military vets who show their ID will receive a free shot. 10pm. Free. Venture Inn, 255 S. Camac St. 215.545.8731.

Independence Parade
More than 5,000 people—marching bands, floats, military organizations, etc.—will march through historic Philadelphia for the annual, unparalleled 4th of July extravaganza. The festivities kick off in front of Independence Hall and make their way down Chestnut Street. 11am. Free. Historic Philadelphia Center, Sixth and Chestnut sts.

Saturday, July 5

“85 Years of Neon Signs” Walking Tour
Something as commonplace as a sign is usually taken for granted, but artisan Len Davidson wants to convince you of city signs’ potential as a hypnotizing form of art. We might not have as big of a reputation for our amassment of neon signs as do places like Atlantic City or Las Vegas, but Philadelphia has certainly gathered its fair share of iconic glowing spectacles over the years. When wandering the streets come nightfall, it’s virtually impossible not to let your gaze drift toward the angular rooftop of One Liberty Place, the spinning guitar at Hard Rock Café on Market Street, or the façade of Geno’s Steaks, to name just a few. Hell, we’ve even got our very own “Neon Museum” preservation initiative courtesy of Davidson, whose been collecting and restoring such signs for nearly 40 years. His fascination transcends the average “Oooh, pretty colors!” mindset, however: He’s written what’s often considered to be the “bible” on the industry, 2007’s Vintage Neon, and now he’ll be guiding Center for Architecture patrons through an impressively rich history that dates back to the turn of the 20th century.  Over the course of two hours, he’ll cover everything from the science of neon to some of the brightest and most famous local examples of it, starting with a mint condition Pittsburgh Paints sign from 1936. // JAKE ABBATE

3pm. $5-$20. Philadelphia Center for Architecture, 1218 Arch St. 215.569.3186.

Super Scooper “All-You-Can-Eat” Ice Cream Festival
Spend this July 4th weekend screaming for Ben & Jerry’s, Edy’s and Bassetts ice creams. The Super Scooper All You Can Eat Ice Cream Festival comes to Penn’s Landing for three days of gluttonous, gastronomic pleasure. Just $7 gets you as many scoops as you can handle, with the cost of admission going to support the Joshua Kahan Fund to cure pediatric Leukemia. July 4-6. $7. Walnut St. and Columbus Blvd. 215.922.2386.

The United States Army Band “Perishing’s Own”
The U.S. Army’s premier musical organization makes yet another trip to Penn’s Landing to perform a rousing set of patriotic songs, which will be followed by a fireworks celebration courtesy of Adventure Aquarium. 8pm. Free. Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, 101 S. Columbus Blvd.

Fireworks Dinner Cruise
All-you-can-eat buffets, professional DJs and, of course, a stunning fireworks show highlight this vibrant celebration of Independence aboard the Spirit of Philadelphia. 7pm. $79.90. 401 S. Columbus Blvd. 866.455.3866.

Hawthorne’s IPA Block Party
Hawthorne’s Cafe hosts its annual gathering—in spite of ongoing building repairs—featuring food from chef Matthew Plank, local music and tons of India Pale Ales to choose from. Noon. $5. Hawthorne’s Cafe, 738 S. 11th St. 215.627.3012.

Sunday, July 6

Philadelphia Soul Open Tryouts
Think you missed out that chance to be a football star? Well, the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League are looking for you. Attendees will be tested on their 40-yard dash time, broad jump and individual skill. By the way, the Soul found their 2013 Rookie of the Year at last years’ open tryout. 11am. $60-$80. Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St.

A Night at the Opry
Local cover masters Red Skiles and the Country Ramblers jam out to some of country’s greatest hits and timeless classics tonight at Ortlieb’s. Guests can bring their own classic country vinyl LPs to spin in between sets. 8pm. $5. Orlieb’s, 847 N. Third St. 267.324.3348.

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