Chris Albani and three friends came to Philadelphia from Connecticut to celebrate the 4th of July weekend, and they were able to have a beer at the Independence Beer Garden over the holidays.
“I love Philadelphia, and we’re here on July 4th right next to the Liberty Bell,” Albani said. “What’s better than that?”
They chose Philadelphia for their first road trip since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Albani said. The four were getting ready for the Wawa Welcome America Philly Big Four July fireworks display on Ben Franklin Parkway later Sunday night.
Many more made the same decision this weekend, with tourists and locals converging on Independence Mall to enjoy the atmosphere the Founding Fathers savored when they wrote the Declaration of Independence 246 years ago.
Norman Mui proudly waved a miniature American flag in front of Independence Hall while his wife, Anita, took his photos. The couple from Havertown, in neighboring Delaware County, are originally from Hong Kong.
“I am here to celebrate our freedoms,” Norman Mui said. “In Hong Kong, there are no freedoms. There were when I left in 1997. But now there are no more. Now everything is communism.”
Mui lamented the Chinese crackdown on Hong Kong in recent years.
“I support what we have in the United States,” he said as his wife took pictures.
Nearby, local lawyer Raina Yancey was visiting the President’s House at the corner of Fifth and Market streets, the location of George Washington’s home when he became the first Commander-in-Chief.
Yancey owns and operates “The Black Journey,” a black history walking tour of Philadelphia. She explained to her tour group the importance of the President’s House as a monument to Washington’s slaves, several of them playing predominantly in the exhibits that line the walls of the historic site.
A few yards away, as the rain began to fall on Sunday afternoon, Aquil Hudson waited with his steed, Spot, for the next customer to take his car.
Hudson, a “born and raised” 22-year-old Philadelphian, has been a horse-drawn carriage driver for three years. He learned the ropes from his mother, who was a horse-drawn carriage driver before him.
“It’s a big day for us,” said Hudson. “I have done about five laps since the start of the day.”
Back at Independence Beer Garden across the street, people donned their best red, white and blue yarns, like Greg Bacon in an American-style jacket. He and his friend Gianna Spatoulas indulged in one of the country’s great pastimes.
“At daybreak, enjoy the vacation weekend,” Bacon said. “What’s more American than that?”