Day 12 – July 4th in Philadelphia

There’s not really many pictures here, I’ll warn you in advance. In fact, there are a grand total of two. Sorry.

So, Independence Day. ’tis the day when Americans have the day off and shoot aliens, before realising the aliens are running Macs without firewalls enabled and bring them down with a highly unrealistic virus and a nuke to the head. Serves the aliens right, to be honest.

(I’m now reminded of those “I’m a PC” and “I’m a Mac” adverts that used to be on in the cinema all the time. Imagine if the PC one had the PC trying to be infected by a virus, but shunning it because of his firewalls, before the virus causes Will Smith to blow up the Mac. Besides which, the PC vs Mac ad that I always remember involved the PC having a naughty step because someone had been looking at something dubious on the internet, which the Mac didn’t have because it wanted “free information”, which basically told me that Macs have no parental controls)

But, in these days when there are no aliens about to shoot nukes at (and remember, it’s NUCLEAR, not NUCULAR – stupid Bush) what is there to do?

Lots.

In case you hadn’t realised it, this part of the blog is about spending Indepence Day, or July 4th, in Philadelphia. Those of you who are aspiring stalkers can backtrack from this and work out exactly where I was on which day, and I’ll probably find you going through my bins tomorrow.

It’s right to say that Philadelphia, along with Washington DC and New York, is one of the major cities around the country that does a lot of stuff for July 4th. Of course, every city (and probably every place) in the USA will do something for July 4th. That’s definitely something you can say for Americans – they love their national holidays. Probably because they seemingly only get about 10 days of annual leave per year to take whenever they want, whereas we in the UK tend to get 20.

But then you have to remember, or at least take into account, some of the history behind Philadelphia. It’s home to the Liberty Bell of course, and several American patriots and famous historical people hail from the city. The city is teeming with historical homes, parks, museums and institutions and somehow there just seems to be a big sense of community.

In any case, the event itself. As mentioned, there is plenty to do but we want to stay close to the hotel. There is a big procession which we give a miss, and instead decide to head on to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at about 10-ish.

Bloody hell is it hot!

The Benjamin Franklin Parkway has been blocked off to road traffic. The Parkway itself consists of a long stretch of grassy areas with roads going through them. As mentioned, these have been blocked off to road traffic and, instead, are being used for all sorts of food stalls, various other stalls, seating areas, large TVs for crowds to watch and also stages for live music.

We wander around for a bit, enjoying the sun and the stalls in the small crowds that so far hadn’t developed. There was to be a firework display later and all sorts of live music throughout the day, but instead we just see one or two bands perform that were starting off the day on one of the smaller stages. Amusingly, we do have a look at some of the stalls which range from the regular food stalls to the US army doing a “prove your strength” test. There’s even people selling home extensions!

We also manage to find the Wawa truck again! A popular 7-eleven-type store, Wawa seemed to be cropping up a fair bit in Philadelphia. With their trucks in force, they were giving out free food and drinks – allowing us to score a few free bottles of lemonade (American lemonade is great, has flavour and isn’t fizzy – the pink variety is nice) and brownies. Yes, we do sneak back into the queue a few times but hey – there’s a recession on (once again, thanks Wawa – sorry for not giving you any cash. Your stuff was great, so enjoy the free advertising on this site).

Getting supplies (that, again, will last us a few days and the bottles themselves being useful for a few days) and some lunch (Philly Cheesesteak on the move anyone?) and we’re set, except for one thing.

Bloody hell is it hot!

Yep, I’ve said that before. It is hot. So, with the hotel being just a few minutes walk away, we head back for a bit of a rest and a swim, promising to come out again later.

The pool at the hotel isn’t that nice and, this time, is pretty crowded. There’s also a guy there doing some barbeque food, I assume for free. Didn’t particularly feel like eating it though, not after that cheesesteak.

This does, however, bring something to mind about July 4th and how the Americans celebrate it. Basically, imagine all the UK holidays – Christmas, Easter, New Year and any Royal occasions – all rolled into one. Then magnify it a few times. That’s what you get. Nope, there’s no giving of gifts like at Christmas or Easter, but the amount of communities opening their doors, people generally going out and having fun, all the public events – and this is all over the country. I know it’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog, but imagine the Royal Jubilee, in nice weather (yes, hard to imagine I know) and where the main event was not restricted to one place, but instead there were many, many main events, all over the country.

A few hours of lounging around in the pool later, it’s finally getting a bit cooler so we go back in, get changed and head back to the Parkway. By now there’s a LOT more people but, even so, the crowds are still pleasant. I don’t mean the amount of people – there’s really quite a lot. No, I mean that the people themselves are generally friendly, pleasant, happy and tidy. There’s not much in the way of litter – not compared to the UK – and, again compared to the UK, nobody going round screaming at their kids or at each other.

I can’t quite remember if we had dinner that day – I know we definitely didn’t go to Wendys, to our shame. We did consider, as I may have mentioned, taking the train to New York for a day and perhaps we should have done that on this day. We could have spent the day on Times Square, muscling into Toys R Us as we did so many times on our trip there in 2006 and buying ALL THE SWEETS EVAH!!! However, that was not to be. In retrospect perhaps we should have.

There was to be a big concert on the main stage near the famous steps from Rocky (there is a Rocky statue around there somewhere, though I think we missed it). Alas, by the time we got there all the seats and any space near the main stage had gone, as well as anywhere near any of the big screen TVs which would have it on. So, instead, we head up to around where the fireworks would be set off, and wait.

It does take a while for the fireworks to go off, but go off they do. It is a nice display, but not as good as the ones at Penn’s Landing two days beforehand. And with them over, it’s time to head back to the hotel and get plenty of rest for the night, as the next day we’ve got a few hours drive ahead of us before we hit Washington DC.

Previous – Day 11 – Philadelphia (again)

Next – Day 13 – Philadelphia to Washington DC

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