Good morning and welcome to Wednesday, Philly. The week's only half over, but we're already feeling those holiday weekend vibes, and Wawa Welcome America's helping to get things started. Per usual, we've got the complete guide on where to go and what to do in town for the Fourth so that you can get a taste of that sweet, sweet Philadelphia freedom (read: free hoagies, free museums visits, free concerts and more). Speaking of free, you may have some free time if you're looking to work for the city of Philadelphia while you wait for them to call you back. A new Pew report has found that the city's hiring process takes an average of nearly a year — a process the city will need to improve as more than 30,000 employees approach retirement and need replacement.

Welcome America fireworks explode over the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia on July 4th. ( Ed Hille / Staff Photographer )
Ed Hille
Welcome America fireworks explode over the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia on July 4th. ( Ed Hille / Staff Photographer )

This year, America turns 242 — and she's asking for a little more than just dinner and a movie. Luckily, Philadelphia knows how to throw a party, and you're on the guest list.

That's right, Wawa Welcome America's epic week-long bash is back for another year and packed with free Independence Day activities for all ages, leading up to the Fourth of July and a patriotic Pitbull-headlined Party on the Parkway.

So you don't miss out on any of the action, my colleague Claire Wolters has compiled the comprehensive list of cant-miss Fourth festivities — from free museum days to movies (including Rocky, because, duh), beer to (the last-ever) Bastille Day.

To kick things off, Wawa will be offering slices of a seven-ton hoagie on Thursday in Independence Mall for America's favorite price, free. Come hungry, and leave your wallets at home.

And because, really, what's the Fourth without witnessing the rockets' red glare? We've also put together the complete list of area fireworks so you can get your pyrotechnical fix around Philly, its suburbs, South Jersey and Delaware.

If you'd rather spend the holiday down the Shore roasting hotdogs or roasting yourself in the sun in attempts to become a human-hotdog (although, look, SPF is your friend), we've got the guide for that, too.

The rest of July has a tough act to follow after the Independence Day red, white and blowout, but with Taylor Swift, Star Wars and post-surprise album drop Beyonce and Jay-Z coming to town, things are looking up.

Want to work for Philadelphia? Better be willing to wait.

From 2013 to 2015, the median time between application submission and job selection was 360 days, a Pew study has found. That meant sometimes that people selected for jobs for the city government — Philadelphia's second-largest employer, behind the federal government — weren't available anymore.

The city's hiring processes, researchers concluded, are "cumbersome, inflexible, and slow." In other words, in an economy where time is money and talent is arguably a business' most valuable asset, the City of Philadelphia's current system is a serious setback, it says.

And the stakes are high: The more than 30,000 workers the city employs — food inspectors, librarians, firefighters — are the people who make the city run, and three-quarters of them have reached retirement age or will get there in the next 15 years, and Philly will need to pick up its pace and process to replace them.

Workers who are hired, though, could be seeing a pay bump by 2022. Gov. Tom Wolf is pushing a proposal he says could boost overtime pay (or cut hours) for nearly half a million Pennsylvania workers.

What you need to know today

Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly

Sometimes, the best art is the kind found just above the museum. Nice shot, @jasoncoopman.

Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we'll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout out!

That’s Interesting


Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle, GA
"These pleas for 'civility' from comfortable people who can relate to the horror of a shunning in a posh burrito bar but who can't put themselves in the place of tired and poor people who trekked more than 1,000 miles, only to be tossed into cages — in other words, white moderates who are more devoted to 'order' than to justice — are gross and, frankly, offensive" — Columnist Will Bunch on why "Trump-shaming" is the only way for the American people to be heard.
  • The increase in deadly shootings like that of 17-year-old Antwon Rose Jr. in Pittsburgh last weekend underscores the need for police departments to rethink their culture and training, the Inquirer editorial board writes.
  • Making Philadelphia Theatre's Barrymore Awards gender-neutral is about more than just about nomenclature, and is certainly more than a question about language or even about a shiny statue handed to a select few — it's about who we lift up and who we leave out of the process, says Leigh Goldenberg, executive director of Theatre Philadelphia.

What we’re reading

  • Tired of seeing wasted food, this Philadelphia chef has prepped healthy ready-to-eat meals in a jar and promises to donate a dinner to the hungry each time you eat one of his, The Philadelphia Citizen writes.
  • Clear and present danger: tiny, translucent, poisonous jellyfish have decided to spend another summer at the Jersey Shore, PhillyVoice says.
  • Can doctors really feel your pain? They're going inside your brain to try, and The New Yorker has the story.
  • Schools across the country are taking potential threats seriously in the wake of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Sometimes, though, the desire to thwart the next shooting can have unintended consequences. The Oregonian tells the tale of 16-year-old target of one such investigation.
Geneva Heffernan / Staff
Geneva Heffernan
Geneva Heffernan / Staff

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