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Philadelphia Police Increase Presence Around Wawa Welcome America Festival Areas

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- This weekend we celebrate Independence Day, doing so free of COVID restrictions. And that's bringing a lot of people back to the city to celebrate.

Law enforcement will be out and about to make sure everyone is safe.

Philadelphia police say they have increased their presence in and around festival areas, adding that these increased patrols will not take away from the department's ability to respond to calls for service throughout the city.

Like any birthday party, it's just more fun in good company.

Residents and visitors strolled along the parkway, taking in Barnes on the Block.

The free event was one of many offered through the Wawa Welcome America Festival which this year, began on Juneteenth and presented an in-person experience that was unavailable last year.

"There's a big difference. There was nothing here," Philadelphian Warren Suckonic said.

"I'm just glad to be out of COVID and just enjoying the sights and sounds," Philadelphia Kelly Ewins said.

In plain sight is the added security provided by the Philadelphia Police Department. State and federal resources will also lend a hand.

To help usher festival-goers throughout the city safely this weekend, SEPTA is increasing its services by adding extra trips on the Market-Frankford and Broad Street Lines, extending regional rail services, and utilizing a bus service called the Mann Loop, which will provide rides to the Wawa Welcome America concert at the Mann Center on July 4th.

The firework spectacular is still scheduled to take place over the parkway.

"I like that they are so loud and they're cool because they are rainbow," one young boy said.

And in the fun of it all, some might even forget that in Philadelphia a celebration always comes with a history lesson.

It's history that is alive and ever-growing.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will join Wawa Welcome America's Celebration of Freedom Ceremony on Independence Square at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

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