“We are thrilled to enter our second year as the title sponsors of Wawa Welcome America! focusing Hoagie Day on the men and women who protect our great nation and honoring the freedoms we all celebrate today,” says Wawa’s CEO.
On Wednesday June 29 at noon, former Governor Edward Rendell, Philadelphia police officers and firefighters, members of the USO, members of the Pennsylvania National Army Guard and Pennsylvania Nation Air Guard, Wawa associates and hoagie-lovers across Philadelphia gathered together for the most patriotic and packed-full Hoagie Day to date.
The highlight of the event was a 4 ½ ton Hoagie, built in the morning and served at the afternoon celebration. Wawa called it a 4 ½ ton hoagie salute to our troops because this year Hoagie Day focused on honoring our soldiers and hometown heroes.
Welcome America! is Philadelphia’s 4th of July celebration that, for 11 days (June 24 – July 4), showcases all that America’s birthplace has to offer. Fittingly, this year’s Hoagie Day was held at historic Independence Mall in front of the Independence Visitors Center at 6th and Market Street.
Beyond the 4/12 ton Hoagie salute, the event featured a letter writing station, inviting guests to write a letter to our troops to be inserted into USO care packages that will be sent this summer and during the holiday season. During the celebration, Wawa and former Governor Rendell presented a check to the USO for $20,000 to sponsor these 1,500 care packages filled with essential items and Wawa products.
“While a highlight of this year’s event is certainly the 4 ½ ton enormous hoagie, the true highlight of Hoagie Day is celebrating the enormously valuable service our troops and local heroes provide our country each and every day,” said Howard Stoeckel, president and CEO of Wawa, which operates more than 570 stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. “We are thrilled to enter our second year as the title sponsors of Wawa Welcome America! focusing Hoagie Day on the men and women who protect our great nation and honoring the freedoms we all celebrate today.”
As always, Hoagie Day featured a variety of hoagie-centric activities, including a charitable hoagie building competition between Philadelphia police and firefighters and members of the Pennsylvania Army Guard and the Pennsylvania Air Guard, a Hoagie Day feast and a special Hoagie Day proclamation.
The day began with 150 Wawa associates building the 4 ½ ton hoagie at the Wells Fargo Center. This year represented a first in Hoagie Day history, as half the hoagie was Italian and half was turkey. Together the morning builders created the Hoagie Day feast from hundreds of pounds of ingredients that were loaded onto a refrigerated truck and served free to attendees later that day. In addition to building the Hoagie Day hoagie, Wawa sent 5,000 hoagies built that morning to Philabudance food bank, in an effort to spread the Hoagie Day spirit to all Philadelphians.
WMMR’s Preston Elliot later introduced 12 finalists of Wawa’s associate talent contest for the best solo singer, to lead the crowd in the singing of the national anthem. Immediately following the national anthem, the 4 ½ ton hoagie was served to the crowd.
Governor Rendell officially proclaimed June 29 to be Hoagie Heritage Day. In 1992, Wawa held the first Hoagie Day, building a 500-foot hoagie that was served free to the public. On that day, then-Mayor Ed Rendell proclaimed the Hoagie the “Official Sandwich of Philadelphia,” which kicked off 10 years of Hoagie Day events as part of the Welcome America! festival. During this year’s 2011 Hoagie Day Celebration, the proclamation was renewed.
A double header hoagie building competition also ensued. First members of the Pennsylvania National Air Guard and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard went head-to-head in a battle of bravery, skill, and sandwich making expertise to benefit the charity of their choice. Then Philadelphia Police Officers and Firefighters were challenged to see who could build the most hoagies in three minutes in the traditional Wawa way, while being cheered on by the Philadelphia Police and Fire Commissioner. The Pennsylvania National Air Guard and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard build Turkey hoagies, and the Police and Fire fighters built Italian.