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June 29, 2023

Wawa Welcome America and a waterpark: Your weekend guide to things to do

It's Fourth of July weekend, which means fireworks, music, free museum days and at least one 120-foot slide

Weekend Things To Do
Wawa Welcome America Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Wawa Welcome America, the city's weeks-long Fourth of July celebration, ramps up this weekend ahead of the holiday.

Independence Day falls on a Tuesday this year, which means much of America's birthday party is happening this weekend. Between the concerts and block parties planned as part of Wawa Welcome America, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the day Benjamin Franklin and his pals kicked Great Britain to the curb. But you can also test out a brand new waterpark in nearby Atlantic City, or join the final Pride Month festivities on Friday.

Start celebrating the Fourth of July

The first Wawa Welcome America festival events began nearly two weeks ago, and they're only ramping up as the Fourth approaches. The U.S. Army Field Band & Soldiers' Chorus will play patriotic tunes on Independence Mall on Friday evening at 6 p.m., while the fireworks start Saturday along the Delaware River waterfront at 9:45 p.m. Music returns to Independence Mall on Sunday with a gospel concert commemorating the 160th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. And museums across the city will offer free admission on select days over the weekend, including Penn Museum, the Barnes Foundation and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Fly down a 120-foot slide in Center City

Perhaps the biggest Wawa Welcome America event this weekend, however, is the Avenue of the Arts block party on Saturday, July 1. Let's Rock Recess will lead a kid-friendly dance party featuring games and a free 120-foot slide, while musicians including Lady Alma and American Dinosaur will perform on stages outside the Kimmel Cultural Campus. There's also action inside Kimmel, as the casts of "The Lion King" and "Moulin Rouge!" will mount preview performances of their upcoming shows. Other highlights include an art installation from Mural Arts, free health screenings from Independence Blue Cross and a food and artisan marketplace curated by Christa Barfield of FarmerJawn. Head to Broad Street between Locust and Spruce streets starting at 11 a.m. to join the party.

Or dive headfirst down a waterslide in Atlantic City

Across state lines, the Showboat Resort in Atlantic City is preparing to open a new 100,000-square-foot indoor waterpark. Island Waterpark features multiple slides as well as a surf simulator, lazy river, tree house and roller coaster. For the 21+ crowd, Paradise Adult Island features a swim-up bar and DJs. The new attraction, described as the world's largest on a beachfront, officially debuts Friday.

Sing karaoke during the last week of Pride Month

Friday also marks the final day of Pride Month, and the city is still celebrating with a queer comedy showcase at Punch Line Philly at 9:45 p.m. and a specially themed karaoke night at Hard Rock Cafe from 8-11 p.m. Close out the month with singing, shrieking or, depending on your vocal range, maybe a little bit of both.

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