Jazz, swag, and shortis: Philly celebrates Wawa Hoagie Day

Naeem Townsend leaves the National Constitution Center with a hat, a flag, and a hoagie, giveaways

Naeem Townsend, 6, of Philadelphia leaves the National Constitution Center with a hat, a flag, and a hoagie, giveaways that came with free admission to the center. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Nothing says Fourth of July weekend like thousands of people standing in the rain to get free hoagies.

That was the scene at the National Constitution Center today on Independence Mall for Wawa Hoagie Day.

People stand in the rain outside the National Constitution Center
People stand in the rain outside the National Constitution Center for free Wawa hoagies and free admission to the center. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Jazz music flowed throughout the space as eager guests dressed in red, white, and blue stood in line waiting to receive their shorti.

Wawa associates from across the region started making over 15,000 hoagies at 5 a.m. Thursday. The first 5,000 hoagies were donated to Philabundance, with another 2,000 donated to the Police Athletic League of Philadelphia and the Veterans Multi-Service Center.

Alex Avallon and Sereniti Fripps help out with Wawa Hoagie Day at the National Constitution Center with their moms
Alex Avallon, 10, and Sereniti Fripps, 8, help out with Wawa Hoagie Day at the National Constitution Center, with their mothers, who are Wawa employees. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Over 920 Wawa stores across the country also donated thousands of hoagies to their local health care workers and first responders.

This yearly tradition is dedicated to honoring first responders and the military across the Philadelphia region, and this year also honored essential employees who worked through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While we’re all going to enjoy a hoagie today, thanks to Wawa, we’re also here to honor our heroes, the dedicated men, and women who keep us safe every day and protect what we value most our country and our city’s freedom,” said Mayor Jim Kenney.

The Delaware County-based company also donated $80,000 to the United Service Organizations.

Sherly D’Alfonso of South Philadelphia hands out hoagies at the National Constitution Center
Wawa employee Sherly D’Alfonso of South Philadelphia hands out hoagies at the National Constitution Center. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Rebecca Park, the USO’s regional president, spoke about their decade-long partnership with Wawa.

“It is immediately clear to me why the USO and Wawa worked so well together. It is our shared value of delivering convenience and comfort through services that help make this easier, better, and brighter. We understand the importance of building community and keeping people connected to the things that fuel and fulfill them.”

Police officers and firefighters got in on the sandwich action as well.

The Philadelphia Police Department faced off against the Philadelphia Fire Department in a rapid hoagie-making contest that had lettuce flying across the room.

Each team had three minutes to make as many hoagies as possible. Police won.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw (center) and members of the police department compete against the fire department in a hoagie-making race
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw (center) and members of the police department compete against the fire department in a hoagie-making race at the National Constitution Center. Police won. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

“They come out to support public safety. They come out to support military. They come out to support first responders in a truly genuine way,” said Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, “which I think is amazing for our rank and file to see.”

Hoagies ran out at 2 p.m.

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