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June 16, 2016

Wawa throws parade for relocation of original Store #1

First food market opened in Ridley Township on April 16, 1964

Wawa Development
Wawa Wawa/for PhillyVoice

The original Wawa store in Folsom, Delaware County.

It may seem hard to fathom, but the modern Wawa empire took root in Delaware County with the opening of one original store in 1964. Fifty-two years later, with more than 720 store locations in six states, Wawa on Friday held a parade to celebrate the relocation of Store #1.

Last year, Wawa's announcement that Store #1 would close elicited an impassioned open letter from a Delco native living all the way down in Houston.

"Wawa 1 has been there for my family in the happiest of times and the saddest of times," wrote ‎Jacqui Vivanco Hertlein. "My family members pass many Wawas each day to and from work, but the fact of the matter is ... we only stop at one. The original. Wawa 1."

Wawa executives read the letter with heavy hearts, but their decision stood to construct a state-of-the-art Super Wawa just down the road at MacDade Boulevard and Kedron Avenue in Folsom.

Bright and early at 7:45 a.m., the event kicked off with a band-led procession along 2nd Avenue to the new location. Wawa’s 1918 vintage “autocar” antique milk truck led the charge, joined by mascots Wally Goose and the representatives of several Philly-area sports teams. Swoop, cheerleaders and a surprise Eagles player were all on hand to sign autographs. There was also a charitable hoagie-building competition between the Ridley Township Police Department and the Folsom Fire Company.

At 9 a.m. Wawa President and CEO Chris Gheysens offeed remarks alongside Chairman of the Board Dick Wood, members of the Ridley Township Board of Commissioners and the VFW Honor Guard. New store team members were introduced, long-time customers were acknowledged and a ribbon was cut to officially mark the grand opening of the new store.

"This parade and grand opening celebration honor Wawa’s traditions while celebrating its commitment to fulfilling lives every day," the company said in a release.

The new store features 5,500 square feet of retail space, 12 fueling stations and enhanced landscaping and exterior fencing. To commemorate Store #1, Wawa has installed a photo milestone timeline in the new store, a selfie station monument to the original Wawa Food Market and a plaque honoring Wawa founder Graham Wood.