City of Philadelphia prepares for July 4 celebrations

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Fourth of July is just days away, and as Philadelphia comes back from the depths of the pandemic, so are visitors.

This year's holiday will be more like the ones in years past.

With more hotel bookings, conventions, new attractions, things are rebounding here and just in time for America's birthday.

Visit Philadelphia says Historic District hotels will likely be sold out for July 4. Some are already at 90% capacity.

The rest of Center City and University City is about 50% capacity.

COVID recovery is well on the way. People are out and about, which is good news for the economy.

The Independence Visitor Center says it's constantly seeing more tourists and says a stay-cation is always ideal for the holiday weekend.

"Independence Visitor Center will be open at 9 a.m., Independence Hall, The Liberty Bell, both open at 9 a.m., so get here early," said Jennifer Nagle, with the Independence Visitor Center.

As Philadelphia prepares to celebrate the country's independence, The American Philosophical Society discovered a piece of history.

Employees located an iconic printing of the Declaration of Independence.

There are only eight other known copies.

"What makes the 4th so powerful for all of us are those words on the paper. The Declaration of Independence, that we are all created equal. And to find this historic document, to connect with that anniversary, is just great for us to share with the rest of the world," said Patrick Spero with the American Philosophical Society.

"I am just so happy for the American Philosophical Society because this adds to our incredible collection of declarations," said Anne Downey with the American Philosophical Society.

The public won't get to see the piece until 2026, but as we prepare to observe the nation's 245th birthday, a national treasure will be returning to Independence Hall just in time for July 4.

The Pennsylvania Coat of Arms painting will return to public display after being taken down in 2017 for restoration work.

Regardless of where or how you plan to celebrate, most Action News talk to say July 4, 2021, will be better than July 4, 2020.

"Tough times, but you know what man, masks are off, people are walking around with smiles on their faces, and it's a big relief," said Ed Porter of Greenville, Ohio.

"It is a very freeing holiday. It is celebratory, everybody is happy, everybody wants to be outside, and it is a good reminder of the country that we are in and just our freedoms," said Andreya Cybriwsky of Center City.

According to AAA, more than 47.7 million Americans will take to the nation's roadways and skies this Independence Day, as travel volumes are expected to be nearly fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

More than 660,000 Philadelphia five-county residents are expected to be part of that number.

AAA projects this will be the second-highest Independence Day travel volume on record, trailing only 2019, with road trips reaching record levels.

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