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PHILADELPHIA — Wawa Inc. is spicing up this year's Wawa Hoagie Day with a side of star power.
The 23rd annual Hoagie Day on Thursday, July 2 features special appearances by Celebrity Chef Robert Irvine of the Food Network and "Restaurant Impossible," with a performance by hometown heroes from NBC's "The Voice" Matthew Schuler and Audra McLaughlin.
The event, part of the city's Wawa Welcome America! festival, kicks off at 11:55 a.m. at the Independence Visitor Center Lawn on Market Street between 5th and 6th Streets in Philadelphia.
As a highlight of the event, Hoagie Day will feature the Five-Ton Hoagie Salute to Our Troops, named after the continuing focus of Hoagie Day: honoring soldiers and hometown heroes, as well as Wawa's long-standing partnership with the USO.
During the salute, a five-ton Italian hoagie comprised of more than 20,000 shorti hoagies — which will be built the morning of the celebration at the nearby National Constitution Center — will be marched in by Wawa associates and re-enactors from military moments throughout history, and served to the crowd free of charge.
Other Hoagie Day highlights include:
- The first 5,000 hoagies built will be given to Philabundance to distribute to its community pantries and kitchens throughout the Delaware Valley.
- Irvine addressing the troops and thanking them for their service.
- A Letter Writing Station where guests are encouraged to write and sign letters to send to the troops in Wawa care packages during the holiday season.
- The Hoagies for Heroes Doubleheader emceed by Irvine and WMMR's Steve Morrison. Philadelphia police officers and firefighters will battle it out in a hoagie-building competition to benefit charities of their choice. The Pennsylvania National Air and Army Guard will then go head-to-head in a charitable hoagie-building competition to benefit the USO. Wawa will make a contribution of $3,000 to the charities of all teams.
- Schuler and McLaughlin will perform to close out Hoagie Day.
In addition to these festivities, Wawa President and CEO Chris Gheysens will announce the company's goal of $700,000 for the Wawa Foundation's annual USO campaign. The fundraising campaign kicked off in all Wawa convenience stores June 29.
"Hoagie Day is a wonderful chance to reflect on one of the most important events of our past and present, as it represents our commitment to fulfilling lives every day, for our community and our customers, and also gives us a chance to highlight the men and women who protect the freedoms we are all celebrating," Gheysens said.
"Each year, Hoagie Day gets bigger, more delicious and more patriotic, and we're thrilled to be able to continue the tradition of supporting troops and local heroes — our police officers, firefighters and emergency responders — in greater ways than ever before, through The Wawa Foundation and our Wawa Veterans Alliance. With the participation of chef Robert Irvine and our other exciting guests, we hope our heroes feel extra special on this very special, annual Wawa event," he added.
This is the sixth year that Wawa has been the title sponsor of Philadelphia's weeklong July 4th celebration. Hoagie Day itself traces its roots back to 1992 when then-Mayor Ed Rendell proclaimed the hoagie as the "Official Sandwich of Philadelphia."
Pennsylvania-based Wawa operates more than 690 convenience stores, including 420 offering gasoline, in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida.