Welcoming America in style

June 26, 2009 4:31:38 PM PDT
Philadelphia's annual July 4th parade features some changes.

The Taste of Philadelphia celebration got underway today on Penn's Landing in Philadelphia. It was part of the annual Sunoco Welcome America festival which culminates on July 4th with a parade, concert and fireworks ? brought to you each year live on 6abc.

This year's parade, which is produced by channel 6, features some major changes.

"I'm very excited because it's the first time in 18 years that the parade will happen in front of this building," said parade producer Todd Marcocci, pointing to Independence Hall, "where this all came alive 200 some years ago."

The parade will take place in Philadelphia's historic district instead of on the Ben Franklin Parkway. It will follow a 10am opening ceremony instead of being held later in the day as in years past.

The parade will kick off at 5th and Chestnut, turn right on 7th, then proceed one block on Market, ending on Front Street. Organizers saying if the Founding Fathers could talk, they would want visitors to celebrate Independence Day exactly in this manner.

"Our nation's birthplace is Philadelphia," said City Representative Melanie Johnson. "Where better to have a July Fourth patriotic parade than right here in historic Philadelphia, the most historic mall in America?"

Organizers say don't bother fighting for a good place on street corners to see the bands and performers. This year, the acts will never stop.

"Wherever you stand within that one-mile parade route, you're going to see the same exact thing as somebody saw a few blocks up," said Marcocci.

Sheryl Crow will be the headline act near the Art Museum on the 4th. And of course there will be fireworks.

Speaking of fireworks, there will also be some on Penn's Landing tomorrow night following a free concert by the Roots and Angie Stone ? all part of the festival.

Meantime, vendors spent this day at Penn's Landing setting up for the annual Taste of Philadelphia.

"You get to taste from 20 different Philadelphia-area restaurants from between $1 and $5," said organizer Sharon Phillips Waxman. "We have everything from Italian fare, like Meatball Sliders and Chicken Parmesan sandwiches to Cuban fare to Jamaican fare."

Today there was no shortage of red white and blue ? and of course, great food.

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