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Philadelphia hosting TED Talks, celebrating Navy and Marines in lead-up to 250th anniversary of the U.S.

Philadelphia unveils plans to celebrate 250th anniversary of the U.S.
Philadelphia unveils plans to celebrate 250th anniversary of the U.S. 02:28

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - The United States will mark its 250th anniversary in 2026 and the birthplace of American democracy, Philadelphia, is getting ready to celebrate in a big way.

There will be TED Talks about the city's role as the birthplace of American democracy, celebrations of the 250th anniversaries of the Navy and Marine Corps in 2025, a commemorative mural, a new annual pre-Independence Day celebration and much more.

Officials held a press conference Tuesday morning to announce the events, activities and activations taking place as part of the semiquincentennial – in other words, America's 250th anniversary celebration.

All of this is set against a backdrop of major sporting event after major sporting event throughout the year as Philadelphia is set to host six 2026 FIFA World Cup matches and the 2026 MLB All-Star Game. There's also the 108th PGA Championship in Newtown Square and the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament in 2026.

Officials are excited about the economic impact the events will bring.  

"We're going to have fans from all over the world coming here to Philadelphia, coming here to pack our bars and eat in our world-class restaurants and stay in our many amazing hotels," Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said.

It's all leading up to July 4, 2026, and throwing back to 1776, when the Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence.

Here's a breakdown of everything officials mentioned in the press conference. Michael Newmuis, the city's 2026 Director, is the second-to-last speaker and he comes up around 26 minutes in.

Everything Philadelphia is planning for America's 250th birthday in 2026 | Full press conference 46:15

Democracy-themed "fireside chats" with TED

The city and TED are teaming up for the "TED Democracy Fireside Chat" initiative, "centered around the concepts and pillars that are essential to preserving modern democracy." The series will begin in 2024 and continue regularly into 2026.

"Philadelphia is a centerpiece of America's history, it plays a pivotal role as a birthplace of modern democracy. It's known to be a city for thought leadership," TED CEO Jay Herratti said.

The first chats will take place in July, September and November of 2024. Baratunde Thurston, a former digital director of The Onion, author of the book "How to Be Black" and host of the "How to Citizen with Baratunde" podcast, will be featured in the first even on July 9.

Herratti said September's event will address voter participation leading up to the 2024 election, while November's event will bring people together post-election "to engage in productive conversations even between people who disagree with one another."

More talks will take place in 2025 and culminate with a daylong symposium on July 4, 2026.

Coming in 2025: Philadelphia celebrates 250th anniversary of the Marine Corps, Navy

While the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, about one year earlier in October 1775, the Continental Congress in Philadelphia began supplying George Washington with ships to seize British supplies, and a month later began passing resolutions to buy more ships. These resolutions passed in Philadelphia are considered the birth of the Navy.

Then on Nov. 10, 1775, the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution to establish two battalions of Marines, considered the birth of the U.S. Marine Corps. The resolution was drafted at Tun Tavern near Front and Sansom streets.

Newmuis said the city will host a 250th birthday celebration in 2025 for these two branches of the military.

There will be a celebration on the Delaware River in October 2025 featuring historical, replica and active-duty ships representing every major war the Navy has ever fought. More information is available at  

"Red White and Blue To-Do" and parade on the day John Adams wanted to be Independence Day

Starting on July 2, 2024, and continuing annually will be a new event centered around Philadelphia's historic spots in Old City: the "Red White and Blue To-Do."

The event, which already has its own web page, starts with an event at the Betsy Ross House followed by a parade at the National Constitution Center along Independence Mall and going to Carpenters' Hall. There will also be musical performances at historic locations around Old City.

While we celebrate Independence Day on July 4 in memory of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, founding father and second President John Adams envisioned July 2 as a day of "pomp and parade." That's the date in 1776 that the Continental Congress voted and officially declared freedom from Great Britain.

2026 Wawa Welcome America going to be bigger than ever

Philly always goes big for the largest July 4th celebration in the country, Wawa Welcome America and its free Fourth of July concert on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. While Ne-Yo and Kesha will headline 2024's show,

"You can bet that the Wawa Welcome America celebration on July 4 will be one of the biggest and best celebrations that Philadelphia, and I dare the United States, has ever experienced," Newmuis said.  "There will be no better place to celebrate America's birthday than America's birthplace."

The Young People's Continental Congress

In July 2024 and 2025, Carpenters' Hall will host The Young People's Continental Congress, a youth-focused event bringing together delegates from across the country to explore the themes of democracy and to engage in civic dialogue.

The Declaration's Journey 

The Museum of the American Revolution will host this major special exhibition exploring the history and global impact of the Declaration of Independence from 1776 to today. The exhibition will run from Oct. 18, 2025, through Jan. 3, 2027.

Find out more about 2026 events in Philadelphia

There is plenty more information about other 2026 Semiquincentennial events in Philadelphia, and events leading up to 2026, on Visit Philadelphia's website.

The press conference took place at the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial at The Franklin Institute.

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