PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia is once again getting ready to “Welcome America” for the annual 4th of July celebration. In keeping with tradition, most of the activity will revolve around Penn’s Landing and Independence Mall.

This year’s 11-day festival begins on June 24th with the gastro-friendly Taste of Philadelphia. This year’s banquet is being stretched out over the Chestnut Street Bridge to Front Street.

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Kicking off the musical entertainment will be renowned Jazz bassist and Philly native Gerald Veasley.

“It really is an honor to open up the Welcome America festival,” Veasley says. “Playing at Penn’s Landing is always awesome because you get people from all walks of life, all over the area. They come and just have a great celebration.”

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Aaron Neville and the Philly Pops are some other headliners to look for.  Movies will be shown in the evening at various venues, including Rittenhouse Square and Love Park. There’s an all you can eat ice cream festival, though you’ll be asked to make a $7 charitable donation before gorging yourself.

And something new: a singer-songwriter competition. All amateurs are welcome to participate. You can find details at WelcomeAmerica.com. There’s much more and it all leads up to the Independence Day parade and fireworks extravaganza, headlined by The Roots (pictured).

Reported by Paul Kurtz, KYW Newsradio 1060

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