Independence Day is a significant event in Philadelphia and every year the Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA) has an important role to play in the festivities. This year, Wawa sponsored a multi-day event to celebrate America’s birthday in America’s birthplace. The party reached its peak on July 4 with speeches by Mayor Michael Nutter and Vice President Joe Biden at Independence Hall in the morning, a parade through the Old City, and a concert and fireworks display The Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
The Red Cross was present all day supporting the event and its celebrators. Red Cross workers handed out water and provided a place for shade and rest in support of the opening ceremonies; Red Cross trained nurses and EMTs supported a medical tent at The Parkway to help with injuries and medical emergencies, and other Red Cross workers supported a family reunification center to provide a go-to area where separated friends and families could reunite. Volunteers helped bring over 40 families back together, including many children who became separated from their parents. And of course, the American Red Cross recruited future volunteers.
Events on The Parkway kept volunteers busy all afternoon and through the night, as a fireworks display and music concert kept Philadelphians from heading home early. Volunteers supplied several cots and Red Cross blankets to the Medical Services tent provided by the City of Philadelphia for people in need of assistance.
“Participating in Wawa’s Welcome America, Fourth of July Event was a great way for volunteers and staff to get together, have some fun, and train in the use of Safe and Well (HYPERLINK to: http://www.redcross.org/find-help/contact-family/register-safe-listing),” said Senior Disaster Program Manager, Megan Rhodes.
This event means a lot to the volunteers who sign up to staff the tents. Usually, Red Cross volunteers assist others at a difficult post-disaster moment; in contrast the parade and the Party on the Parkway allowed volunteers to proudly participate in a time of celebration. The Red Cross has a long history in our country that was founded in response to the needed care for wounded soldiers during the Civil War. Appropriately, supporting and celebrating the birth of the United States of America is a part of our heritage as an organization and as Rhodes exclaimed, “We are looking forward to supporting our community at the next event!”
SEPA Regional Disaster Officer, Leo Pratte, described a long but satisfying day of water and band-aid distribution saying of the hours on The Parkway, “This job never gets boring.”