The July Fourth Party on the Parkway — maybe in 2021?

It’s not a fence. Not exactly. The perimeter around this year’s Party on the Parkway — the penultimate highlight of the weeklong Wawa Welcome America celebrations — won’t be anything like the shaded barriers that block off Jay Z’s annual Made in America concert or the miles of chain link used for Pope Francis in 2015.

Instead, the all-day July Fourth festival will be enclosed by bike racks set up as pseudo-fencing. It’s the first year the block party will be set up this way, officials confirmed, with free entry available at 10 designated gates.

The reason for the change, organizers say, is actually to create a “more open” feel at the festivities on the Ben Franklin Parkway, which culminate in a big music concert and fireworks display.

In practice, that means you won’t have to stay inside designated beer garden areas to partake in holiday day-drinking. For the first time, people will be able to buy a snack and a pint from a concession stand — or pop their own bottle from a cooler — and roam freely along the along the tree-lined boulevard.

That flexibility comes with the slight inconvenience of entry gates, which officials maintain will not be full-on security checkpoints.

What to expect at the gates? Just quick bag searches, organizers say.

City spokesperson Lauren Cox compared the 2019 security updates to other big Philly events. She expects America’s birthday to feel more like Philly’s 2017 version of the NFL Draft. “These changes do bring it more in line with procedures for other big events,” she said.

Don’t fret: You’re still allowed to bring in fun stuff like pets, chairs, blankets — and even picnics and small coolers stocked with booze.

If you want to buy alcohol inside, you’ll get ID’d by the vendor — not staff at the entrance. Once you prove your 21-plus status, the vendor will slap a wristband on your arm so you’ve got easy access going forward.

The list of prohibited items is the same as in past years:

  • Weapons or contraband of any kind
  • Fireworks
  • Open flames,
  • Illegal or illicit substances
  • Flyers or handbills (and other items used for solicitation)
  • Unauthorized commerce
  • Items that would obstruct the view of others (such as large signs)
  • Drones

Where to enter the Party on the Parkway

There will be 10 entrances along, two of them reserved for people who have tickets:

  • One on each side of the Parkway at 21st Street
  • One on each side of the Parkway at 20th Street
  • Four around Logan Circle
  • 22nd and Winter streets (tickets only)
  • 23rd and Spring Garden streets (tickets only)

Michaela Winberg is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn. She covers LGBTQ people and culture, public spaces, and transportation and mobility. She also sometimes produces radio and web features...