For the first time, an LGBT float will form part of the Wawa Welcome America Fourth of July parade that runs through Old City. It will feature local drag queen Brittany Lynn, members of the LGBT community and Mummers.
Decorations celebrating the 40th anniversary of PGN will also be on the float.
Under the Sun Productions, a business in Chester County that has worked with Welcome America for years, put an LGBT float in the early plans for this year’s event. The Mummers were part of the plan since the beginning.
But Jeff Guaracino, the out head of Welcome America who took over in January, said he and his team evaluated the group’s inclusion after the New Year’s Day parade that mocked Caitlyn Jenner.
“This July 4, it’s even more important that not only do we have the Mummers close by, but that we celebrate inclusion, forgiveness and moving forward together as Philadelphians,” Guaracino said. “What is Philadelphia about? Brotherly love and sisterly affection. We move forward and we do it together.”
How many and which Mummers will participate is still being determined.
Guaracino said the new LGBT float would join what is informally known as the “gay section” of the parade. It also includes the Lambda Car Club, Hegeman String Band and the Rainbow Alliance, an LGBT networking group.
“I believe we’re continuing a tradition. We’re in a tradition of LGBT inclusion,” Guaracino said.
Last year, LGBT leaders like Jim Obergefell and Edie Windsor were in Philadelphia for the 50th anniversary of the Annual Reminders celebration over the Fourth of July. In 2010, gay pioneers like Frank Kameny rode through the parade in cars provided by New Hope’s Lambda Car Club. And in 2005, the first time the LGBT community was openly included in the Fourth of July events, PGN publisher Mark Segal organized a concert with Elton John to raise money for HIV/AIDS causes.
Also new this year: Telemundo will have a host at the parade and coverage of the event will be broadcast for the first time in Spanish.
“We believe this parade reflects the diversity of where we live,” Guaracino said.
The Wawa Welcome America events run from June 27-July 4. Concerts and fireworks will be part of the lineup. The full schedule of festivities will be announced May 20. For more information, visit www.welcomeamerica.com.