PHILADELPHIA — Italian or turkey? Hoagie lovers were divided as thousands lined up for a free Wawa hoagie as part of the Wawa Welcome America celebration Tuesday.
“it’s a great day for a hoagie. This is our 27th annual hoagie event and 10th year as a sponsor of Welcome America," said Lori Bruce, Wawa spokeswoman. "It’s a 9-ton of hoagie to honor our everyday heroes, veterans, police and firefighters.”
Starting at 5 a.m., more than 250 Wawa associates were required to pull the celebration off. Ingredients included 5,900 pounds of oven-roasted turkey, 1,586 pounds of Italian meats, 2,187 pounds of provolone cheese, 1,938 pounds of iceberg lettuce, 2,335 pounds of tomatoes, 276 pounds of onions, 228 pounds of oil and 12 pounds of oregano to create 32,000 hoagies.
In addition to the hoagies visitors received a Tastykake, chips and drink.
Of the total 2,000 hoagies were delivered to local veterans centers and 8,000 went to Philabundance to help needy residents across the region.
“We love this day. It’s great to connect with folks,” said Cathy Pulos, chief operating officer for Wawa. “Associates from different stores come together and love doing this. We look forward to it every year.”
Pulos said quality-assurance staff monitor the distribution to assure safe handling of the food. Items are refrigerated to prevent spoilage.
Tonya Stewart of Lansdowne was one of the many waiting in the line which stretched for blocks on Independence Mall Tuesday. “My kids are in camp so I have the time to come and celebrate,” said Stewart, who was going for a turkey hoagie.
“I come every year,” said Donald Rogers of Philadelphia. “I like the turkey.”
It was not so for Mel Brake of Springfield. "It’s Italian all the way,” he said.
“I like the way people come together for this," Brake said. “Serve food, fun and happiness and celebrate America.”