Ring in July 4th early with ice cream, history lessons, and enjoy outdoor music concerts

It’s not too early to get ready for the Fourth of July. It’s time for Welcome America, beach music, block parties and exhibition openings in this week’s Things To Do.

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Flag waving fans cheer as Yazz the Greatest and Leslie Odom Jr. kick off the Wawa Welcome America 4th of July Concert on the Parkway.

Flag waving fans cheer as Yazz the Greatest and Leslie Odom Jr. kick off the Wawa Welcome America 4th of July Concert on the Parkway. (Bastiaan Slabbers for WHYY)

It’s not too early to get ready for the Fourth of July. It’s time for Wawa Welcome America, beach music, block parties and exhibition openings in this week’s Things To Do.

Welcome America events
Philadelphia knows how to throw and Independence Day party. The Wawa Welcome America celebration goes from Saturday, June 29 until Thursday, July 4. There are several free events happening around Philadelphia before the big fireworks show and concert on the Parkway with performers Jennifer Hudson and Meghan Trainor. This weekend’s highlights are below.

Philly Ice Cream Scoop
Reading Terminal Market
51 N. 12th Street
Saturday, June 29, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Free, food and drink available for purchase
How about some ice cream? Welcome America hosts the biggest ice cream festival in the U.S. at the historic Reading Terminal. Fourteen additional ice cream vendors will ply their wares at the event, including Bassett’s, the Reading Terminal staple, which is America’s oldest ice cream company. Ice cream eating contests, games and special activities will be part of the celebration of all things ice cream.

Historic District Block Party
5th and 6th streets between Market and Chestnut
Sunday, June 30, 12 p.m.–7 p.m.
Free, food and drink available for purchase
Philly is already known for its summertime neighborhood block parties. This one is open to the whole city, though, and includes everything from food trucks, kid’s events, educational programming, live music performances — with an emphasis this year on female artists — and more. At the conclusion of the block party, the Gospel On Independence performance begins, featuring 100-plus voices culled from choirs around the Delaware Valley.

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Free Library of Philadelphia Rare Book Department Free Museum Day
Rare Book Department @ Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Saturday, June 29, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Free, with registration
The rare book department of the Free Library’s Central Branch opens its doors to showcase some of its works of art dating back to 3000 BC — and also including some rare books and manuscripts that are much more contemporary. The current exhibit is called “Our 5 Senses.” This event is part of Welcome America’s free museum day, in which local museums like the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Museum of American Revolution will offer free or pay-what-you-wish admission.

Somers Point Beach concerts 
William Morrow Beach – Municipal Beach Park located between
Higbee and New Jersey Avenues on Bay Avenue on Somers Point, New Jersey
Fridays through September 6 (also a show on July 4); 7 p.m.
Bring your beach chairs and your coolers for what is billed as an easygoing night under the stars with some musical accompaniment at the Jersey shore. Every Friday night through September 6, with an added show for Fourth of July, an array of artists in varying genres including rock, R&B, jazz and blues will perform a free concert. Artists scheduled are Grammy nominees Victor Wainwright and the Train, Joe Louis Walker, Tom Hambridge and Press of AC’s 2018 Band of the Year, Quasimodo’s Bride.

For the Birds: Birding walks at Winterthur
Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library
5105 Kennett Pike
Winterthur, Delaware
June 26, July 31, and August 28, 8 a.m. – 10 a.m.
Birdwatchers rejoice! Delaware’s Winterthur Museum is hosting nature walks in July and August focused on the birds whose habitat is Clenny Run, Chandler Woods and Brown’s Woods. The tour will encompass birds who are native to the area and those who migrate there including raptors, warblers and sparrows. No prior birdwatching experience is necessary but you’ll want to bring binoculars.

WDAS Summer Block Party with Jill Scott, Jazmine Sullivan, Mase, and Musiq Soulchild
The Mann Center For Performing Arts
5201 Parkside Avenue, Fairmount Park
Saturday, June 29, 6 p.m.
Join Philly’s own R&B stars Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild and Jazmine Sullivan, along with ’90s rapper Mase at the WDAS Summer Block Party. Scott, Soulchild and Sullivan are all due for new releases, but Scott is also an in-demand TV and movie actress whose latest project “First Wives Club” is scheduled to air this fall on BET’s new streaming platform. Scott’s last album was “Woman” back in 2015. Soulchild, known best for gorgeous ballads like “Teachme (How To Love)” released “Feel The Real” in 2017. Former Strawberry Mansion resident Sullivan’s “Reality Show” which featured fan favorites “Let It Burn” and “Masterpiece” came out in 2015. Mase, a ’90s fixture of Sean Diddy Combs’s Bad Boy label, will likely perform his massive hits including “Feels So Good” and “What You Want (Tell Me).” The Mann has a shuttle going to and from nearby Crawford Circle before and after the show for those attendees traveling from Center City. Ride-share services are also available.

Charlie Wilson
Ovation Hall at Ocean Casino Resort
500 Boardwalk
Atlantic City, N.J.
Saturday, June 29, 8 p.m.
$49.50 and up
Oklahoma native and R&B veteran Charlie Wilson once fronted The Gap Band, who created the classic ’70s and ’80s hits “Outstanding,” ‘Burn Rubber” and “You Dropped the Bomb On Me.” Since then, he’s become a favorite honorary “Uncle” of the hip-hop generation branching out into a successful career as a solo artist. In 2009, he scored a number one Billboard hit with “There Goes My Baby.” His energetic live performances have helped him solidify his reputation as a stellar showman. His latest release “In It To Win It” came out in 2017.

New Kids On The Block w/Salt N Pepa, Naughty By Nature, Tiffany and Debbie Gibson
Wells Fargo Center
3601 S. Broad Street
Thursday, June 27, 7:30 p.m.
$29.95 and up
Much of the generation who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s are now responsible adults with jobs, mortgages and kids, but the halcyon days of mixtape music aren’t that far behind them. The Boston-born band New Kids on the Block was one of the era’s franchise boy bands anchored by its first member, Donnie Wahlberg and his brother and friends who made up the group. He’s now better known as Det. Danny Reagan on the CBS show “Blue Bloods,” and you may have heard of his rapper-turned-actor sibling Mark Wahlberg. Via massive hits like 1988’s “You Got It (The Right Stuff),” NKOTB ultimately sold over 80 million records. They’re coming to town with fellow ’80s/’90s hitmakers Tiffany, Debbie Gibson and rap groups Naughty By Nature and Salt-N-Pepa.

Hugh Jackman
Wells Fargo Center
3601 S. Broad Street
Sunday, June 30, 7 p.m.
$29.50 and up
Actor doesn’t begin to encompass the totality of Hugh Jackman’s skill set. The Australian-born performer is a multi-talented hyphenate who has shown the arc of his range playing characters from Wolverine in the “X-Men” movies and Jean Valjean in the film version of “Les Misérables.” Along the way, he’s starred in major Broadway productions and in one-man shows like the one he’s doing this weekend. Jackman will perform songs from “Les Misérables,” “The Greatest Showman” and more in front of a live orchestra. If you miss him on this tour, you’ll have to head to Broadway where he’ll be starring in a revival of “The Music Man” in 2020.

Cephalopod Movie Night
Johnny Brenda’s
1201 N. Frankford Ave.
Friday, June 28, 7 p.m.
If you enjoy learning more about the mysterious creatures of the ocean, Cephalopod Week is a good time to do so. Science Friday, which airs on WHYY on Fridays at 2 p.m., created the week to celebrate sea creatures like octopuses and squid, which are part of the cephalopod family mostly distinguished by their lack of a shell. Johnny Brenda’s will host the annual Cephalopod Movie Night, held in 10 cities around the U.S. Elah Feder, who hosts “Undiscovered” will moderate a post-screening discussion with local experts Dr. Alison Sweeney of the University of Pennsylvania and deep-sea diver Dr. Erik Cordes of Temple University.

Clark Park Music and Arts Festival
Clark Park, 43rd Street and Chester Avenue
Saturday, June 29, 11 a.m.–7 p.m.
Free, food and drink available for purchase
Music, art and food will combine at the Clark Park Music and Arts Festival. A staple of the diverse West Philadelphia community, the festival has been an annual event since 1970. Food trucks, local performing artists including The Mary Veils, goodnight/goodluck, Beach Bod, Revolution, I Love You, Levee Drivers and more will perform. Community vendors, face-painting, theater artists and work from local visual artists are highlighted as well.

Philly Vegan Pop Flea Market
Friends Center
1501 Cherry Street
Saturday, June 29, 12 p.m.–4 p.m.
Calling all vegans to the latest incarnation of healthy plant-based eating and plant-based product gatherings. The market celebrates its third birthday with an array of vegan products and vendors including House of Cork NY, Dandelion Kitchen, The Vegan Shawarma, Wildflower Wellness Beauty Botanica, Go Vegan – Philly and more.

Stonewall @ 50
Leonard Pearlstein Gallery at Drexel University
3401 Filbert Street
Opening Reception June 28; 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Exhibit runs June 28-July 26
The 50th anniversary of New York City’s Stonewall Riots, which ultimately empowered the LGBTQ community, took place 50 years ago this weekend. June is international Pride month with events worldwide that celebrate the culture and contributions of the community. Philadelphia is home to many of those events and this weekend, it debuts the “Stonewall @ 50” exhibition. Over 50 local artists are on display in the biggest collection of LGBTQ artists in Philadelphia history. The exhibit features a diverse group of artists working in all mediums including video, sculpture, painting, photography, sculpture and more. Wit Lòpez and Vitche-Boul Ra are scheduled to perform at the opening reception; Jonas Dos Santos will provide a tableaux vivant.

N.C. Wyeth: New Perspectives
Brandywine River Museum of Art
1 Hoffmans Mill Road
Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania
Through Sunday, September 15, 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. (after July 1,
museum closes at 4:30 p.m.)
$6-$18, children under 6 are free
Illustrator Newell Convers “N.C.” Wyeth was a 20th-century artist best known for his work illustrating classics like “Treasure Island” and “The Boy’s King Arthur” for Scribner’s and other clients. He was also a talented visual artist who worked in many different styles. In his household, he encouraged creativity and artistry to such an extent that his son, Andrew Wyeth, became one of the canonical artists of the 20th century and his grandson, Jamie Wyeth, is also a noted painter. Curated by the Brandywine River Museum of Art and the Portland Museum of Art, this exhibition expands on Wyeth’s history as an illustrator of more than 112 books by including his murals, landscapes, seascapes, portraits and advertising work. This is the most comprehensive collection of N.C. Wyeth’s works ever assembled with more than 70 drawings and paintings drawn from both museums and private art collectors. The museum catalog includes essays from leading art scholars on Wyeth’s life, work and legacy.

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