From public officials to descendants of Declaration of Independence signers, thousands celebrate

Philadelphians rejoice the nation's birthday at Independence Mall

Steve Tawa
July 04, 2018 - 3:44 pm
As America rang in its 242nd year, 4,000 participants made their way down the cobblestone streets around Independence Hall for the Independence Day parade.

Steve Tawa | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — At ground zero of what is described as America's most historic square mile, the Let Freedom Ring celebration took place all around Independence Mall. 

As America rang in its 242nd year, 4,000 participants made their way down the cobblestone streets around Independence Hall for the Independence Day parade. One float included historic re-enactors of the Founding Fathers, following the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps. 

Mayor Jim Kenney spoke at Independence Square, saying he was honored to be next to the imposing statue of John Barry, the officer in the Continental Navy during the Revolutionary War.

"Under the statue of an undocumented Irish immigrant, the father of the American Navy," he said. "It brings up to me more closely what immigrants have done to build up this great country from the very beginning."

As America rang in its 242nd year, 4,000 participants made their way down the cobblestone streets around Independence Hall for the Independence Day parade.

As America rang in its 242nd year, 4,000 participants made their way down the cobblestone streets around Independence Hall for the Independence Day parade.

As America rang in its 242nd year, 4,000 participants made their way down the cobblestone streets around Independence Hall for the Independence Day parade.

Considering the heat and humidity this week, we got a taste of what it may have been like during that blistering summer of 1776, when 56 men gathered inside Independence Hall — formerly the Pennsylvania State House — and defied the King of England. 

"It's where the founders met, debated, disagreed, argued, but in the end, reached agreement to be free from English rule and to set up a new form of government," said Cynthia MacLeod, superintendent of the Independence National Historical Park.

Across the street, inside the Liberty Bell Pavilion, 10 descendants of five signers of the Declaration of Independence — children between ages 7 and 17 — performed a ceremonial bell tapping, including young Maddie George.

"John Hart is like my eighth grandfather," she said. "I learned that he lost everything in the Revolutionary War."