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WMOF: Mark Wahlberg To Host Festival Of Families; Aretha Franklin And The Fray Slated To Perform

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Officials announced on Monday that actor Mark Wahlberg will serve as the host for The Festival of Families with Pope Francis on September 26 on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

It was also announced that Grammy Award winner Aretha Franklin will perform for the Pope, along with the band "The Fray."

The Fray - I'll Be There
The Fray. (Photo provided by The World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015)


Officials say Marie Miller, singer and finalist in the 2014 Macy's iHeartRadio Rising Star Competition, has also been added as a performer.

Mark Wahlberg, Aretha Franklin, The Fray and Marie Miller join a lineup that includes Andrea Bocelli, Juanes and The Philadelphia Orchestra.

"When we first envisioned The Festival of Families, we could have never anticipated such an extraordinary line-up of talent would be part of this once-in-a-lifetime event," said Donna Crilley Farrell, Executive Director of the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015.

"We are deeply honored to have Mark Wahlberg serve as our host and we are thrilled to have the legendary Aretha Franklin and the immensely popular band, The Fray, join us in Philadelphia for Pope Francis' visit. Undoubtedly, their presence – with Andrea Bocelli, Juanes and The Philadelphia Orchestra –will make this evening truly unforgettable for all who attend."

The World Meeting of Families also announced several hours of pre-programming that will take place on two stages (Eakins Oval stage and Logan Square Stage.)

Gaffigan - I'll Be There
Jim Gaffigan. (Photo provided by The World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015)


Comedian and author Jim Gaffigan is scheduled to perform along with Jackie Evancho, a Pittsburgh native who was a runner up on "America's Got Talent."

The artists scheduled to perform along the Parkway prior to the Festival of Families are:

Eakins Oval Stage: Saturday, September 26
(In performance order; Performances begin at 5:27 p.m.)
• American DanceWheels
• Jackie Evancho
• Matt Maher
• Sister Sledge
• Jim Gaffigan

Logan Square Stage: Saturday, September 26
(In performance order; Performances begin at 12:45 p.m.)
• Salvation Army Songsters
• Dancing with Students
• Christopher Duffley
• Saint Raymond of Peñafort Gospel Choir
• Modero Dance Company
• Nigeria/Igbo Community @ St. Cyprian Viva Mas
• Mutya Philippine Dance Company
• St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Community
• Oscuro Quintet
• Everything Fitz
• Joe Castillo
• Osage Ballet Company

Officials say the performances will be shown on 40 jumbotrons.

Additionally, prior to the formal program, officials say Pope Francis will take part in a parade from Eakins Oval, up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, around City Hall and back down the Parkway to Eakins Oval, allowing hundreds to see the Holy Father up close.

The World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 also released the final renderings of the performance stage for The Festival of Families. To view the renderings, click here.


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