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PHILADELPHIA -- The Wawa Hoagie is showing its red, white and blue during this year's Wawa Welcome America! Festival.
As part of its fifth year as title sponsor of the annual celebration, Pennsylvania-based Wawa Inc. is dedicating its 22nd annual Hoagie Day to 50 hometown heroes.
On July 2 at noon, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter will join city police officers and firefighters, members of the Pennsylvania National Army Guard and Pennsylvania National Air Guard, members of the USO, the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps. to kick off the event.
Although the mayor will officially open Hoagie Day at noon, the action actually begins at 5 a.m. as 150 Wawa associates join at the National Constitution Center to create a 5-ton hoagie comprised of 17,000 Shorti hoagies made with 10,000 pounds of ingredients. The feast will then be loaded into a refrigerated truck and brought to the Independence Visitor Center lawn to be served free to Hoagie Day attendees.
The first 5,000 hoagies will be given to Philabundance to distribute to community shelters throughout the Delaware Valley.
But the day is not all about the retailer's famous sandwich. Chris Gheysens, Wawa's president and CEO, will present a check for $100,000 to the USO on behalf of The Wawa Foundation. The funds will benefit USO programs and services, including a special program kicking off at a November event. That program is designed to provide educational workshops, assistance and opportunities to more than 200 veterans and their families.
"Honoring more than 50 hometown heroes at this year's Hoagie Day reminds us what the holiday is all about, and we couldn’t be happier to highlight the men and women who protect the freedoms we are all celebrating," said Gheysens. "We're thrilled to be able to support these brave men and women in an even greater way than ever before, through The Wawa Foundation and the creation of a new Wawa Veterans Alliance."
The Hoagie Day festivities will also include a doubleheader baseball game featuring Philadelphia police officers vs. firefighters, and the Pennsylvania National Armed Guard vs. the Pennsylvania National Air Guard. Wawa will make a $3,000 contribution to the charities of all the teams.
Howard Stoeckel, former Wawa president and CEO, will also be on hand to sign copies of his book, "The Wawa Way: How a Funny Name and Six Core Values Revolutionized Convenience." He will be joined by co-author Bob Andelman.
Wawa Welcome America! 2014 started June 28 and runs through July 4. For more information and for a detailed schedule of events, click here.