Lights, Cameras … Showcasing Miami’s Rich Movie History

Lights, Cameras … Showcasing Miami’s Rich Movie History

Writer: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read AUGUST 2019— Miami’s beautiful beaches, art-deco buildings and culturally diverse neighborhoods have been the setting for numerous movies and TV shows over the years. To showcase the city’s history in the film industry, Miami Beach recently launched its “Filmed on the Beach” interactive portal.

The digital film tour webpage features an in-depth look at the movies and shows shot on the island through the years. The portal features maps of South Beach, Mid Beach and North Beach that indicate locations where movies, TV shows and music videos have been shot. 

“We want our residents to better connect to our city’s history as well as inspire future filmmakers to follow in some of the famous footsteps,” Matt Kenny, the city’s director of tourism and culture, stated in a press release. “The interactive tool will be monumental in doing so and reminding individuals why Miami Beach was, and still remains, a cultural icon on the silver screen,” he said. 

Users can explore the locations, types of films and fun facts about each production by scrolling through key points of the city, marked with stars, on the interactive maps. South Beach is the neighborhood with the highest number of productions. This internationally recognized neighborhood has had a total of 32 productions.

In 1964, international attention descended on South Beach with Muhammad Ali’s famous 5th Street Gym and his upset victory over Sonny Liston at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Among the 1960s shoots that stand out are The Jackie Gleason Show TV series and the filming of Elvis Presley’s Clambake. In the 1980s, South Beach and Ocean Drive were transformed into magnets for film, advertising, fashion, art and culture with shows such as Miami Vice

Hollywood’s love for South Beach continued with movies such as Scarface, The Birdcage, the Bad Boys trilogy, TV shows such as The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Burn Notice and Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and numerous music videos.

 

 

Distinguished by its luxury hotels, Mid Beach has also been the setting for several films. Many of these notable movies took place around the Fontainebleau Miami Hotel, which according to Filmed on the Beach was the favorite hang-out of Frank Sinatra and served as the backdrop for his 1960 television special. The iconic scene of the golden-painted Bond Girl in 1964’s Goldfinger movie and scenes from Scarface and The Bodyguard were also filmed in the Fontainebleau. 

Last but not least, the beautiful North Beach, which is often a place to get away from the noise of South Beach, has attracted many movies and music video producers as well. Among the most iconic films recorded in the area: The Godfather II. The Beatles’ live performance on The Ed Sullivan Show was also shot here. According to Filmed on the Beach website, it is said that the Beatles spent eight days a week in Miami Beach. Bad Boys III, Bay Watch and music videos from the Jonas Brothers and Pitbull are some of the recently recorded productions in the area. 

To maintain this rich history of the local film industry, Miami’s Film Production Grant Program is offering grants for at least nine feature films, music videos, television shows, documentaries, short films and web series who choose to shoot in Miami Beach.  

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

Filmed on the Beach:http://www.mbartsandculture.org/filmed-on-the-beach/ 

City of Miami Beach: https://www.miamibeachfl.gov/ 

Miami Beach Arts & Culture: http://www.mbartsandculture.org/ 

Film Production Grant Program: https://filmiamibeach.gosmart.org/ 

The Future is Now for FATVillage

By Max Crampton-Thomas

 

3 min read August 2019 — Fort Lauderdale’s FATVillage makes up for what it lacks in size with a treasure trove of arts, cultural and technological offerings. Founded in the late 1990s by Doug McCraw, the four-block historic warehouse district has developed into an arts hub to rival the most established arts districts in South Florida. While the area was originally founded as a way to rally philanthropic support around the artistic community in Fort Lauderdale, it is now transitioning into the premier destination for artists, small-business owners, technologists and arts enthusiasts.

The emergence of FATVillage has been a thoughtful and deliberate process of encouraging smart development that never diverts from the emphasis on art as the main part of the neighborhood’s DNA. This stands true for the introduction of more mixed-use development into the area, as McCraw highlighted in a recent interview with Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale, discussing how that development is not only a new concept but also positively affecting the surrounding neighborhoods. “FATVillage has consistently been a significant economic driver in the Broward County region. It has acted not only as an arts community but also as a nucleus for a lot of the development in Flagler Village. What we are doing in terms of using art as a driver of mixed-use development is still a new concept, and not many developers are integrating product development with a creative community in the same way that we are,” McCraw told Invest. 

He also acknowledged that while FATVillage is undergoing a transition to focus on developing its status as an economic driver in the region, the reason for the district’s success has been the deliberate and careful process of deciding who can lease inside the area. “FATVillage is at a transition point. We are very focused on developing FATVillage to make it a treasure for Fort Lauderdale. We have aggregated various types of coworking spaces with different disciplines, all of which are major components of FATVillage. We have a curated process and we do not just lease to the first person who walks in the door. Our focus on art as an integrated part of the DNA of FATVillage makes us a unique component of Fort Lauderdale’s culture,” McCraw said

Helping to achieve this vision for the future of FATVillage, while also remaining true to its arts identity, is Urban Street Development, which has been involved with the district from the beginning. Invest: recently had a conversation with the Co-Founder Alan Hooper about what the next phase of development for FATVillage will look like. “In August, we intend to deliver a plan that will take the FATVillage Art District in downtown Fort Lauderdale into an exciting era that will combine food with art and technology (FAT) and develop a neighborhood where people and businesses of all sizes can find a place to live, create, collaborate, and socialize. The 5- acre-plus plan fully embraces the arts and elevates the opportunities for artists and creative businesses alike. Positioned inside the downtown core, the Opportunity Zone, and a block from Brightline, the options for community building are endless,” Hooper told Invest:. “We want to help FATVillage evolve into the place it should be. A place that is attractive to creative businesses while maintaining the artists who made us a well-known destination. We want to build some affordable housing for artists and local creative people, as well as really cool workspaces for start-up businesses that might represent art in another way, through video or audio, the art of the word, or the art of food. A place like this will be very attractive to businesses that benefit from hiring within a congregation of talent. In the end, we are creating a village that all people can grow with, be a part of and enjoy.” 

Arts and culture is a major key in Florida’s economy, and even more so in Broward County. Areas like FATVillage play a vital role in keeping arts in the county, and acting as a significant economic driver for the region. FATVillage has long been an attractive destination in Fort Lauderdale, but it is now on the cusp of a major transition into a true arts and economic staple in Broward County. 

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://www.fatvillage.com/

http://www.urbanstreetdevelopment.com/

Buccaneers Hope Offseason Moves Score Touchdown

Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read August 2019   There is perhaps nothing more synonymous with Tampa Bay than its football team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Since officially joining the NFL in 1976, the Bucs have become a staple in the Tampa Bay region. The team’s history includes the highest highs and lowest lows, from a dismal 0-14 inaugural season to a Super Bowl title in 2003. Now only weeks away from the start of the 2019-2020 season, the Bucs are looking to bounce back from last year’s tumultuous campaign that resulted in a 5-11 win-loss record and a last-place divisional finish for a second straight year.

The Bucs have not allowed last year’s disappointing season to distract them from what could possibly be a comeback season in the making. After the final loss last season, the Bucs dismissed head coach Dirk Koetter. They have since hired two-time Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year Bruce Arians, who has been swift in his moves to strengthen the team’s defense and instill a winning culture within the locker room. The Buccaneers added some significant depth to their defense with their 2019 first round pick, linebacker Devin White, and with the addition of five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Ndamukong Suh.

While the city of Tampa Bay is eager to see the team return to its glory days as Super Bowl champs, there may be no one more focused on having a winning season this year than Bucs’ quarterback Jameis Winston. The national championship and Heisman Trophy winner has had what can be best described as an inconsistent NFL career. Entering the fifth and final year of his rookie contract, the former first round pick will undoubtedly look to use this season as his campaign to remain the team’s franchise quarterback. 

The Buccaneers franchise and fanbase can also look forward to an improved Raymond James Stadium, which underwent a $160 million renovation in the offseason. The stadium, and more broadly the City of Tampa Bay, will be home to Super Bowl LV in 2021, marking the fifth time Tampa Bay has hosted football’s biggest event. Invest: Tampa Bay spoke with Brian Ford, COO of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who discussed what it means to host this event once again. “It’s going to be Tampa’s fifth Super Bowl, which is great when you think about all the many, very exciting cities that can host the Super Bowl. We’re very proud of that. Tampa hosts a ton of big events, and we do them well. We worked closely with Rob Higgins of the Tampa Sports Commission, Eric Hart and Mickey Farrell of the Tampa Sports Authority, Commissioner Ken Hagan of Hillsborough County and the city of Tampa in putting together the best bid and best format for this mammoth event. When you sit down and look at it, it’s truly remarkable that so many in Pinellas County and Hillsborough County all came together for one event. And there’s no way that we would’ve been offered this opportunity if we hadn’t made a major investment in the renovations, of which we’re also very proud.”

The only thing that could make hosting a Super Bowl better for the Tampa Bay region would be to see the home team competing in it. While that may be a long shot at this point, the Buccaneers will have this season and next to prove they are a franchise that can compete at the highest level. It’s still early, but all signs seem to be pointing to a brighter future for the Tampa team. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

https://www.buccaneers.com/

Record Numbers Flock to Philly, Again

by Yolanda Rivas

 

2 min read AUGUST 2019 — Greater Philadelphia experienced its ninth straight year of record tourism in 2018. Public and private organizations in the sector are making multiple efforts to elevate tourism to the city and maintain its record-setting pace. 

Enhancements to the city’s historical, cultural and dining options, such as the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the stadiums in South Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Museum of Art renovations and a number of new hotels on the horizon are some of the examples of improvements to the city’s offerings. 

“We’re working on a partnership to significantly grow our brand globally while also making a further commitment in Philadelphia with a new project that will dramatically enhance the architectural canvas for residential real estate,” Larry Korman, president of luxury extended-stay brand AKA Hotel Residences, told Invest:. 

Philadelphia’s weekend occupancy rate remains in the low- to mid-90%, also record highs, as the city of brotherly love attracts both business and leisure travelers. Local hotels, such as the Cambria Hotel Philadelphia Downtown, are committed to highlighting and complementing the communities where they operate through area-inspired decor and modern design.  

“We have locally commissioned art in our hotel, and since we sit on the Avenue of the Arts, our decor is themed with a nod to arts and music. We sourced most of the art and decor from local artisans, vendors and companies to ensure that we are supporting the community in every way possible,” Jerry Rice, General Manager at Cambria Hotel Philadelphia Downtown, said in an interview with Invest:.

To meet the demands of those who want a unique and intimate experience, some local brands are making the transition to boutique hotels. That is the case of former Courtyard by Marriott, which has been reborn as The Notary Hotel. According to the hotel’s general manager, Jim McSwigan, some of the elements of renovation include reimagined rooms, public workspaces for guests, a new shower experience in all rooms and a modern fitness center. 

“We have maintained an element of history with 1920s-inspired decor and furnishings, while introducing a modern feel. We offer the latest and greatest when it comes to providing guests with a great space, not only for business meetings, but for social events, weddings and any type of celebration,” McSwigan said.  

Another main driver for visitors and a key economic developer is the arts sector, and Philadelphia’s world-class music institutions are putting the city in the global spotlight. Such is the case of Opera Philadelphia and its Festival O, for example, which has had a  local, national and international impact. David Devan, general director and president of Opera Philadelphia, pointed out in an interview with Invest: the importance of the festival in creating local, enlarged artistic partnerships and developing a new, mostly young audience. “That is the biggest impact; we now have more customers than five years ago. We work with Visit Philadelphia, PHL Convention and Visitors Bureau, and other agencies that promote the city and create local pride,” he said.

“Because we do so much new work, what we are doing is affecting the field of opera nationally in terms of the field celebrating and participating in contemporary art activity. Internationally, we have become recognized as one of the most innovative opera companies in the United States,” Devan stated.

This year, Philly’s official tourism marketing agency VISIT PHILADELPHIA is focusing on opportunities in the multicultural market, specifically Latinx, LGBTQ and African American audiences. 

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

AKA Hotel Residences: https://www.stayaka.com/ 

Opera Philadelphia: https://www.operaphila.org/ 

Cambria Hotel Philadelphia Downtown: https://www.choicehotels.com/pennsylvania/philadelphia

The Notary Hotel: https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/phlak-the-notary-hotel-autograph 

VISIT PHILADELPHIA: https://www.visitphilly.com/

 

Universal’s Epic Orlando Investment

by Sara Warden

2 min read AUGUST 2019 – The theme park industry in Orlando is about to get an Epic addition. Comcast NBCUniversal, parent company of Universal Studios, announced a fourth theme park to add to its Orlando portfolio. Although it is keeping its cards close to its chest, the company has made no secret of the significant economic opportunities Epic Universe will open up for the entire state of Florida.

“Our new park represents the single-largest investment Comcast NBCUniversal has made in its theme park business and in Florida overall,” said Brian L. Roberts, chairman and CEO of Universal’s parent company Comcast Corporation.  “It reflects the tremendous excitement we have for the future of our theme park business and for our entire company’s future in Florida.”

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, for every $1 spent on travel and tourism, $3.2 are returned to the economy. An economic impact study for Universal conducted by UCF economics professor Sean Snaith found that construction of the new park alone will inject around $11.5 billion in direct and indirect economic benefit into the Florida economy.

In particular, Universal will fund 50% of the Kirkman Road extension, which will allow access to the area where the new park will be located. “The Kirkman extension will improve transportation through a busy and growing portion of our county and open up the entire area for additional development, including an important expansion of our Convention Center,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.

According to research by WeSwap, the average daily spend by real travellers in Orlando comes in at around $144 per day, with $52 spent on eating out, $66 on entertainment, $27 on transport and $43 on shopping.

Although no concrete details have been announced on capacity, the new park will be built on a 750-acre site. As of July 2019, the current Universal theme park covered 840 acres, meaning this new development has the potential to almost double the theme park’s current 75-million capacity.

Taking just a conservative estimate of an additional 25 million visitors per year, that’s still a whopping $3.6 billion in income for the park. According to Universal, it contributes more than $302 million in annual state and local taxes, a number that will nearly double when the new theme park opens.

Universal Orlando’s combined direct and indirect economic benefit to the Florida economy since Universal Studios opened in 1990 is $73 billion, and the industry continues to grow. In 2018, the theme park segment of Comcast’s balance sheet came in at $5.7 billion, up 4.4% on 2017.

The direct investment being made by Universal is substantial in itself, but the knock-on effects for the economy are undeniable. The new theme park will increase the 25,000-strong staff at the theme park by another 14,000, significantly boosting quality of life and opportunities in the area and allowing the region to flourish.

“The investment Universal is making in our community and the benefit all of us will see is substantial,” said Demings. “This will benefit nearly every segment of our economy, from tourism to high-tech.”

No Stopping Tampa Tourism Rocket

Max Crampton-Thomas

2 minute read July 2019 — Quite often when the city of Tampa Bay is mentioned it is in the context of how rapidly the area is growing both in population and economically. The boom Tampa Bay is experiencing can be attributed to a great many things, including a bustling tech sector, a revolutionary healthcare market and first-class educational institutions. Perhaps most influential in all this growth, however, has been the economic rocket that is the city’s tourism sector. Tourism in Tampa Bay has steadily risen year after year, and with events like Super Bowl LV and Wrestlemania 36 on the horizon, that trend shows no signs of slowing down.

The spike in tourism to the region has not been by chance. Rather, it can be attributed to the focused and deliberate efforts made by local businesses, government and community organizations. Invest: Tampa Bay recently spoke with Santiago Corrada, the president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, about the record year the city had in 2018. “We had an incredible end to the 2018 calendar year. It was another record-setting year for hotel revenue, which is phenomenal given that we have had record-setting years every year since 2014. We ended 2018 at $673.5 million in hotel taxable revenue, which was almost 5% higher than the previous year at $644 million. This is important for us because anytime a county hits $600 million in taxable revenue, it is granted the designation of a high-impact tourism destination. We have been able to reach that designation for two years in a row, and this year was even more important because our county commission just approved a rise in the tourism tax from 5% to 6%, which is the highest that any county can collect.” The growth in tourism throughout Tampa Bay also has a spillover effect. As demand increases and new attractions open they bring with them fresh job opportunities for local residents.

To sustain momentum and build on these milestones, Corrada says that attracting new hotels to the city makes sense. “There are certain big-name, five-star brands we do not have in Hillsborough County, and as the business plan makes sense to add these properties then we will. These new properties will yield different business groups and markets for the region. We have to continue to capitalize when we have an opportunity to expand our reach, refresh our brands and to always have something new to bring visitors back,” Santiago told Invest. “That’s why new developments like the Tampa Riverwalk are so important, why food halls are so important and why Busch Gardens updating and adding its roller coasters is significant because it gives people a reason to want to come back to Tampa Bay. Sustainability in this industry has to do with still being aggressive and still going after it.”

Tampa Bay is quickly becoming a premier, must-visit destination in Florida. Tourism in the city of Tampa Bay shows no signs of slowing down, and due to the efforts of organizations like Visit Tampa Bay will likely reach new heights in 2019. 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit their websites:

https://www.visittampabay.com/

Spotlight on: George Cretekos, Mayor, City of Clearwater

Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read JULY 2019 — For the second year in a row, Tripadvisor awarded Clearwater  the distinction of having the best beach in the country. This comes as no surprise to the city’s 115,000 residents, who have long been stewards of their environment. With the population in the Tampa Bay region growing, that stewardship becomes even more important. 

Invest: Tampa Bay recently sat down with Mayor George Cretekos, who is on the verge of completing his second term. He discussed how the city is handling population growth, the challenges associated with it and how residents are at the forefront of environmental sustainability in Clearwater. 

How are Clearwater residents supporting environmentally sustainable practices? 

As I complete my second term, I appreciate how our residents and businesses have, on their own initiative, promoted sustainability and environmental stewardship.  Before there had been any talk about governments banning single-use plastics in the region, Clearwater’s businesses had started their own programs to stop using plastic straws. It is now common to find many restaurants in Clearwater that do not offer plastic straws or styrofoam to-go containers. This is a testament to how our residents are promoting sustainability and being good stewards of the environment.

How is the region handling the recent increase in population growth?

The region must have smart growth to make sure we are not only taking care of the environment, but also guaranteeing accessibility for our residents and visitors. We continually hear that we have traffic problems and at certain times of the year those problems can be exasperating. The population in this region needs to adapt to using alternatives like public transportation, which can be a better option than building more roads. We should model our transportation efforts to be like that of other major cities where reliable public transportation is an alternative.

What are the biggest challenges facing the city of Clearwater? 

Transportation and affordable housing are the two biggest concerns for the Tampa Bay area. A large percentage of the employees in Clearwater does not live in the city; if we can help provide affordable housing for these employees then the transportation problems could be eased. These individuals would not have to commute long distances into Clearwater, which in turn would help clear a significant amount of congestion on the roadways and emissions. My fellow mayors in the Tampa Bay region have realized that we may be separated by a body of water, but that doesn’t mean that our interests don’t run parallel. When one city does well then we all do well, so we should be working together to solve these issues.

To read more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.myclearwater.com/home

 

Orlando No. 1 for 4th of July

by Staff Writer

2 min read July 2019As the 4th of July vacation fast approaches, many Americans are ready to start their engines and hit the highways for the holidays. Right on time, the American Automobile Association (AAA) has released its ranking of the most popular destinations this year, and Orlando tops the list. The city beat out global tourist stalwarts, including Rome and Paris. When it comes to summer vacation, here’s what makes Orlando a standout.

Location, Location, Location

Located in the middle of the state, Orlando is remarkably well-connected. It is linked to North Carolina by I-95, and to Atlanta and Tennessee by I-75. Even visitors from as far off as Dallas can sail down the I-20 and arrive to Orlando in 17 hours. Gas prices are low heading into the US “driving season,” with average prices down on the same time last year.

For those who prefer to leave the car at home, Orlando boasts three international airports. Orlando International alone has over 2,700 domestic flights per week.

Park Life

Once tourists arrive, they have a plethora of destinations to choose from, but the top attractions are its iconic theme parks. Orlando is host to Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Universal Island of Adventure, Sea World, Legoland and many more. The 2018 Theme Index shows that Orlando plays host to seven of the Top 10 theme parks globally, with combined foot traffic of over 83 million people. In an industry expected to be worth $70.83 billion by 2025, this 4th of July is likely to provide a significant cash injection to the city.

Shop ‘Til You Drop

One of the best-loved traditions for visitors to Orlando is the shopping experience. The city has a whole host of shopping opportunities and even Disney aficionados can find a customized experience in Disney Springs. Florida Mall and The Mall at Millenia offer traditional shopping experiences, while Orlando Premium Outlets at Vineland Avenue and International Drive are the places to snap up a bargain. If you’re feeling more folksy, take a stroll down the local boutiques of Winter Park Avenue or go on a culinary tour at the East End Market.

Visitors to counties in Central Florida pay more than $5 billion each year in state and local taxes, accounting for roughly half of all sales tax revenue. This money is then used to build up the region’s entertainment, restaurants and tourist attractions.

Culture Vultures

Even though Orlando is known for its theme parks, there is a lot more to see and do in the city. The Orlando Science Center is a must for science buffs, with its interactive exhibits and planetarium shows. For a more tranquil day, visit the Henry P. Leu Gardens on the picturesque banks of Lake Rowena. If you don’t quite want to tear yourself away from the stores, try the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, where among the exhibits you can find an extensive Tiffany & Co. collection.

Back to Nature

In Orlando, you can take the time to zoom around The Everglades in an airboat, catching glimpses of alligators and other wildlife that live in the swamp. Or, if you actually want to jump in, try the freshwater springs of Blue Spring State Park, just an hour’s drive away from the city center. Here, you can enjoy swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving or jump on a boat tour.

If you don’t want to go so far afield, the Lake Eola park, conveniently situated in downtown Orlando, is a 23-acre playground complete with a sprawling lake, amphitheater, playground and a famous fountain. It’s a place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city while never having to leave the shadow of the skyline. In 2013, the park was expanded to the southeast as part of Project DTO – Mayor Buddy Dyer’s drive for a more liveable downtown area.

“Today our downtown is a vibrant and dynamic center, economic engine and cultural destination with a charm and character all its own,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer in his annual State of Downtown address.

Above all, Orlando is a destination for all the family, which is a key reason it comes out on top this 4th of July. 

For more information, visit the websites below:

 

American Automobile Association (AAA) https://autoclubsouth.aaa.com/

Disney’s Magic Kingdom https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/magic-kingdom/

Florida Mall https://www.simon.com/mall/the-florida-mall

Henry P. Leu Gardens https://www.leugardens.org/

International Drive https://www.internationaldriveorlando.com/

Lake Rowena https://www.orlando.gov/Parks-the-Environment/Directory/Lake-Rowena-Park

Legoland https://www.legoland.com/

Orlando Premium Outlets at Vineland Avenue https://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlet/orlando-vineland

Orlando Science Center https://www.osc.org/

Sea World https://seaworld.com/

The Mall at Millenia https://www.mallatmillenia.com/

Universal Island of Adventure https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/theme-parks/islands-of-adventure

Philadelphia Readies the Fireworks for Iconic July 4 Bash

by Yolanda Rivas

2 min read July 2019 — When it comes to celebrating America’s birthday, few do it like Philadelphia. From spectacular fireworks displays and public concerts to festivals and parades, the City of Brotherly Love has one of the biggest and most popular Fourth of July celebrations in the nation. 

 

Among the most iconic local celebrations is the six-day Wawa Welcome America festival. With over 50 free multicultural events, the city, chambers of commerce, tourism organizations, local universities and dozens of public and private organizations come together to celebrate the nation’s birthday.

“The Wawa Welcome America festival continues to enhance Philadelphia’s national reputation as a must-visit destination, with show-stopping, diverse and most importantly, entertainment experiences that are open to the public,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in a written statement. 

To offer families and guests an enhanced experience, the activities this year will have a new layout design for the July 4th Party on the Parkway and July 4th Concert & Fireworks. “Spending the day with us on the Parkway will be better than ever before; we are really excited to have our guests take advantage of this expanded layout,” explained Welcome America Inc. President and CEO Michael DelBene, in a statement outlining the event. 

Attendees will also have free entrance to 22 local museums, attractions and cultural institutions during the 2019 Wawa Welcome America festival. This year marks the largest number of museums participating in the festival’s 27-year history. 

The activities on the 4th of July will start with the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony at Independence Hall, presented by the City of Philadelphia’s Office of the City Representative and Independence National Historical Park. The event will include a reading of The Declaration of Independence and a performance by the Philly POPS® BIG Band. Mayor Jim Kenney will present the fourth annual Magis Award and convenience-store chain Wawa will announce the recipient of The Wawa Foundation Hero Award. 

After this ceremony, 4,000 marchers, floats, and military personnel will begin the Salute to America Independence Day Parade. From noon to 7 p.m. visitors can enjoy numerous entertainment activities across five blocks at Benjamin Franklin Parkway. 

This year’s concert, produced by Live Nation Philadelphia and Comcast NBCUniversal, will feature performances from GRAMMY® Award-winning singers Meghan Trainor and Jennifer Hudson. 

“The City of Philadelphia is proud to welcome GRAMMY® Award-winning superstars Meghan Trainor and Jennifer Hudson to our great city, as well as shine a spotlight on Philadelphia native Patti LaBelle along with the hundreds of talented entertainers performing leading up to July 4,” said Mayor Kenney.

The Celebration of Freedom Ceremony and Salute to America Independence Day Parade will be broadcasted by NBC10 and Telemundo62 on July 4 at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., respectively. NBC10 will also broadcast the Wawa Welcome America July 4th Concert and Fireworks live from 7-10 p.m.

“This year, we embrace time-honored traditions to celebrate the city’s diverse neighborhoods, thriving creativity, and global appeal. With over 50 free, family-friendly events, we invite everyone to join the fun, and commemorate our nation’s independence,” said DelBene. 

For more information, please visit: 

Wawa Welcome America: https://welcomeamerica.com/ 

Philly POPS®: https://www.phillypops.org/ 

Meghan Trainor: https://www.meghan-trainor.com/ 

Jennifer Hudson: https://jenniferhudsononline.com