Amid heightened security, Bastille Day celebration in Philadelphia

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A celebration of French independence and revolution went on Saturday, amid heightened security outside the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. (WPVI)

A celebration of French independence and revolution went on Saturday, amid heightened security outside the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.

In its 22nd year, planners say cancelling the event was not an option - even after the terror attack in Nice, France, on Thursday.

"We can't make the entire world a better place, but here in Philadelphia, we're going to acknowledge the attacks. We're actually going to sing a little hymn in the beginning. And then we're going to throw the best party we can possibly throw," said Sean Kelley, Eastern State Penitentiary.

Organizers say they reviewed their security plan after the mass shootings in Orlando, and then again after a truck plowed through a crowd on Bastille Day in France this week, killing 84 and injuring more than 200. But with increased security and a resolve to stand with the French, many people say they wouldn't miss it.

"I have relatives in Paris, obviously what happened there a few months ago and now this. It's a terrible thing. So this is great to see," said Bernard Tronel of Chester Springs, Pennsylvania.

"It's terrible what happened there, but I'm glad that we're still celebrating it here," said Kamila Florczak of Northeast Philadelphia.

"I thought I'm not going to live in fear. This is something I've done every year, and I want to follow through with the tradition," said Denise DiCristino of South Philadelphia.

French flags were flown at half-staff.

Meanwhile, a French Family carnival included games, crafts and face painting and a Tastykake eating contest was a precursor to the main event - a Philly twist on the Storming of the Bastile, giving new meaning to the famous line: "Let them eat cake."

"Here in Philadelphia we say, 'Let them eat Tastykake,' and we throw 2,000 butterscotch krimpets off the walls into the crowd. It is the signature moment," said Kelley.
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