Philadelphia was decked out in its finest today, sporting red, white, and blue all over the place. Mr. Lawrence picked the Penn Team up around 11 AM to attend the parade in downtown Philly. We saw countless fire engines, marching bands, veterans groups, and cultural pride groups walking down the avenue, not to mention the hundreds of American flags everywhere. The sun was beating mercilessly down, but I have to say that as hot as I felt, it must have been nothing compared to the suffering of those poor marching band members in full regalia. My favorite, zany part of the parade was that every several groups or so, there would be a single bagpipe player, kilt and all, playing “Amazing Grace.” After a while we decided we should go find some water before we all had heat stroke, so we left to eat lunch and rehydrate.
In the afternoon, we strolled through downtown Philly to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to enjoy the Party on the Parkway festivities. The paths were a seething mass of people purchasing food at vending stalls and participating in contests. There were multiple stages set up, with different dance and vocal groups performing at each one. The combination of hot asphalt and lots of people squished together meant that the heat was disgusting, and we came up with various methods of keeping cool throughout the afternoon. There were food products, like lemonade, iced tea, and a local specialty–a cold, sweet, snack called water-ice. There might possibly also have been a brief stint of running through the fire hydrant with all the little kids, which was messier but also more fun. Once we had walked down most of the parkway, we rested on the lawn in the shade of one of the many trees lining the streets. Although we wanted to take in as much as we could, I think it was good that we took a break because otherwise we would have been completely burned out by dinnertime. As it was, our Fourth of July adventure was a 12-hour outing.
Cameron, Clara, and I in our colorful Fourth outfits
A side note–this was the only picture I was able to take before my camera died.
However, I'm hoping the rest of my cohort have more than enough pictures to cover all bases
For dinner, we went to a local pizza place that was quite tasty. It would have been nice to stay and enjoy the air-conditioning for a bit longer, but we were planning to attend the free concert back at Party on the Parkway and we wanted to hurry and get decent seats. Unfortunately we ended up being really far away, but I didn’t mind too much since the auditory part of the experience was the most important. The concert included Roots, Queen Latifah, Joe and Nick Jonas, and Common. Although I liked some of the music that was performed, I decided that concerts might not be my thing. Clara was quick to reassure me that this wasn’t the typical concert experience because I wasn’t a hardcore fan of any of the groups and we were very far away, so I’m going to try and keep an open mind. However, I think that as a general rule I would rather relax on the lawn looking at stars or look for wildlife at night (which obviously isn’t possible in Philadelphia) than attend a big, outdoor concert. I did value the experience as it was a great opportunity to view a very different demographic of Philadelphia than the UPenn folks.
Although I was exhausted by the time we returned to campus, I was glad that we’d had the opportunity to spend the Fourth of July in Philadelphia. On the one hand, it was a really interesting experience for someone who comes from the Bay Area, not the most wildly patriotic of places, to Philadelphia, where almost every person I saw downtown sported a little American flag. On the other hand, it was pretty mind-blowing to think that all of those things that I read about in APUSH this past year (the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitutional Convention) actually happened here. No wonder it’s such a big deal for Philadelphians. And speaking of mind-blowing, apparently the scientists at CERN have just proved the existence of a new elementary particle, and we get to hear all about it via teleconference tomorrow in class!!! And on that note, I need to get to bed so that I’m awake enough to write notes about it. Goodnight, world. Happy Fourth of July.