Fourth of July weekend to test the ‘new normal’ for Philly tourism

Actors perform a reading of the Declaration of Independence at Independence Hall

The annual reading of the Declaration of Independence took place behind Independence Hall in Philadelphia on July 8, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

More than two years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Fourth of July holiday weekend will be closely monitored by those in the Hospitality and Tourism industry in Philadelphia. The question is whether or not people in the region and from around the country will come back to Philadelphia as the Welcome America festival is back to a pre-covid normal with fireworks and concerts.

Jen Nagle of the Independence Visitor Center Corporation said as many as 500,000 people could come through town before the extended holiday weekend is over.

While COVID cases are still present in the community, it remains to be seen exactly how close that prediction will be to the actual numbers of people willing to join big crowds for fireworks, concerts, and other festivities.

“July Fourth is Philadelphia. It’s our biggest weekend of the year,” Nagle said. “Every year it celebrates our independence as a country. The spotlight is on Independence Hall, where it all happened in the historic district. And we’re looking forward to a big weekend and to getting back to our pre-pandemic celebrations, particularly with the Independence Day parade on Market Street.”

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Nagle believes there will be a mix of people making a “bucket list” trip to the city for the holiday weekend, along with people from throughout the region who didn’t want to deal with traffic and high gas prices to go out of town for the extended holiday.

“We do see more locals this weekend, they’re coming from our immediate region, Montgomery County, Bucks County, Delaware County, and in South Jersey,” she said.

Whether you are coming from out of town or just outside the city, moving around Philadelphia is not going to be easy. City officials suggest using mass transit, especially during major events.

SEPTA’s John Golden said they would be using a Sunday schedule on Monday but it will be supplemented in areas where Welcome America is running events, such as the Ben Franklin Parkway and along the Broad Street and Market Frankford lines. Real-time information will be available on Twitter as well as SEPTA.org.

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A full list of July Fourth events is available on the Welcome America website.

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