Welcoming Week, a series of cultural celebrations, begins Friday

Welcoming week
A 12-foot puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refuge named Little Amal walks around Grand Central Station in New York, on Sept. 15, 2022.
AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File

Welcoming Week, a series of events that aims to bring together immigrants and those born in the United States, begins Friday, and a 12-foot puppet of a Syrian refugee is a focal point of festivities in Philadelphia.

Food fairs, a mural tour and a craft market are among the activities planned to mark the week, which runs through Sunday, Sept. 17.

“This week highlights the vibrancy of our immigrant and refugee communities and serves as a reminder that everyone belongs in Philadelphia,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement. “We hope residents take advantage of this opportunity to celebrate all of the cultures that make up our city.”

Welcoming Week is an initiative that began in 2012 with the national nonprofit Welcoming America, and this year, it includes 500 events in multiple counties.

Little Amal, a traveling puppet depicting a 10-year-old girl, was set to arrive Thursday in Boston to embark on a U.S. tour, which will end in San Diego. She was previously carried from the Syria-Turkey border to England in 2021.

Her time in Philadelphia will begin Wednesday, Sept. 13, with a walk around South Philadelphia, starting at 1:30 p.m. at Columbus Park. Later that day, at 7 p.m., she will go from Broad and Lombard streets to City Hall.

On Thursday, Sept. 14, at 11 a.m., Little Amal will visit One Art Community Center, on N. 52nd Street in West Philadelphia, before walking down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from the Rodin Museum to LOVE Park at 4 p.m.

Performances are expected to accompany the puppet along the way, in partnership with Theatre Exile, Philadelphia Theatre Company, BalletX and other groups, according to organizers.

In addition to Little Amal, Welcoming Week includes an Asian festival Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. at LOVE Park and Feria Del Barrio, an annual Latino festival that will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday on N. 5th Street between Huntington and Somerset streets.

An Indonesian festival will also be held Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Fleisher Art Memorial, and there will be a Mexican Independence Day celebration from 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Penn’s Landing.

Next weekend, a Mural Arts tour celebrating Haitian culture will kick off at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Shoprite at Oxford Avenue and Levick Street. A bus will travel from Southwest to North Philadelphia, ending with food at Super Star Barber Shop in Olney.

For registration details and information about other events, go to phila.gov/spotlight/welcoming-week-2023.