By: Jenn Bernstein

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It was a great way to kick off the July 4th holiday a few hours early at the Piazza in Northern Liberties.

Folks were able to enjoy great music and food Wednesday afternoon, and the celebrations continued into the early evening.

“Perfect day out, hopefully we can get ya know a little sun, check out the vendors, and listen to some free music,” said Danielle Maslany.

It’s one of the many free activities everyone can enjoy this week, as we celebrate America’s birthday right here in Philadelphia, where our nation was born.

Bit by bit, crews transformed the Ben Franklin Parkway into a concert venue for the Welcome America! July 4th celebrations.

Starting Thursday, it will be packed for the day-long Party on the Parkway.

Then later in the evening, for the big concert.

Musical acts like The Roots, Ne-Yo, and John Mayor will entertain crowds with a grand finale of fireworks.

The city deemed it – “the Largest Free Concert in America”.

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“It’s great to live so close because you get to see all the festivities, and also you get a great view!” said Lauren Deperna.

Mayor Michael Nutter expects 600,000 people to show up on the Parkway and more than one million to pass through the various city activities.

“As always we welcome everyone to our city and want to make sure that we ensure that you have a safe, fun, fourth of July holiday,” said Mayor Michael Nutter.

“We do anticipate a very, very large crowd of people coming down to celebrate the fourth of July,” said Commissioner Charles Ramsey.

Police are leaving nothing to chance.

There will be an enhanced security presence throughout the city.

“We hope that everybody just comes out and has a great time,” said Commissioner Ramsey.

According to the Mayor, the city will utilize some of the best practices around the country.

He says they learned and used new tactics for the Broad Street Run in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombings.

Those will once again be in security plans.

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“Some of the activities we are engaged in certainly uniformed personnel, telescoping stations and outdoor video surveillance all that kind of activity,” said Mayor Nutter, “we partner with a variety of governmental agencies.  And then, there’s a bunch of stuff that you won’t see and that I can’t talk about.”