Philadelphia's "Welcome America" festival is expanding into the neighborhoods this year in a big way.
Dozens of neighborhood events will take place along with the annual city event — compared with only a few in past years, said Jeff Guaracino, festival director.
He said it's an opportunity to include more participants in the Fourth of July celebration.
"Engaging our youth and residents, and honoring our everyday heroes who — like our ancestors — are making a difference in the fabric of our neighborhoods and our nation," Guaracino said.
In the same way that tragedy in Orlando united people in the city for vigils in memory of those slain in the nightclub massacre, Mayor Jim Kenney said, the festival is a chance to come together for a joyous occasion.
"Wawa Welcome America 2016 is another way we can bring our city together to celebrate our diversity our neighborhoods and our citizens," Kenney said. "From Center City to our culturally rich neighborhoods, together as Philadelphians — along with our vvisitors — we can celebrate American independence and doing good things for others."
Security plans for the event sponsored by Wawa are still being revised, but city officials emphasize big events such as the concert on the Parkway will be safe. The festivities begin June 27 and continue through the Fourth of July fireworks finale.
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