(Minghui.org) The Wawa Welcome America! festival kicked off on July 1, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—the birthplace of America—leading up a range of patriotic activities on July 4, including the Philadelphia Independence Day Parade.

Over 5,000 people in 100 groups from the Greater Philadelphia area participated in the parade, including marching musical groups, floats, military branches, and the Falun Gong Waist Drum Troupe.

Falun Gong practitioners participate in the Philadelphia Independence Day Parade

Falun Gong Waist Drum Troupe performs during the Philadelphia Independence Day Parade

War veteran William Tretina watches the Independence Day Parade every year. He was delighted to see various ethnic and cultural displays in the procession. “Really excellent!” he said, praising the Falun Gong Waist Drum Troupe.

After the parade, spectators were treated to a variety of music and dance performances, as they made their way around the hundreds of booths set up along Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Young Falun Gong practitioners from the Philadelphia Minghui School performed Chinese traditional dances, which won warm applause of onlookers.

At the Falun Gong booth, different forms of Chinese calligraphy were on display, and informational materials about Falun Gong were available. The practitioners also demonstrated the peaceful Falun Gong exercises and taught the movements to anyone who asked.

Practitioners demonstrate the Falun Gong exercises

People learn the Falun Gong exercises

Practitioners took the opportunity to tell festival goers about the persecution of Falun Gong in China, especially the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) practice of organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners.

The practitioners also informed people about House Resolution 281, which was recently introduced in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, calling on China to immediately stop the practice of organ harvesting from its prisoners, particularly from Falun Gong prisoners of conscience and “members of other religious and ethnic minority groups.”

Philadelphia residents sign a petition condemning organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners in China

“We printed more than 200 signature collection forms,” explained Dr. Fang, who was in charge of the signature collection. “We never expected that they'd all be filled in so soon. Of course, we were very happy to print more!”

After practitioners told a group of six young men about the CCP crimes of harvesting organs, every one of them eagerly signed their names to the petition and denounced the cruelty of the Chinese regime.

A distinguished looking middle-aged couple walked over to the Falun Gong booth. After chatting with a practitioner, the woman said that she knew that Falun Gong was a peaceful spiritual group that has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist regime for more than ten years.

She signed her name to the petition, then mentioned that she had recently visited China, and has regular business dealings there. She described her impression of the mainland environment as complicated and morally corrupt. She said that the practitioners' signature drive efforts were necessary to help protect the human rights of millions of Chinese people.