In 1971, Philly’s cultural institutions envisioned a unique street festival to raise funds and transform the city’s Sunday entertainment reputation. They closed the Ben Franklin Parkway to cars for the inaugural Super Sunday on October 10. It featured carnival rides, food vendors, and an eclectic mix of attractions, including a fish-stocked Logan Circle fountain, a boa constrictor named Goliath, Bavarian beer gardens, and the world’s fastest Ferrari, all braving heavy rain to make history.
By 1974, Super Sunday had become the “world’s biggest block party,” as declared by The New York Times. The event embraced diversity, with stands for various causes and interests.
Over the years, it offered a plethora of entertainment options, from a 2,000-pound ice cream sundae sculpture to breathalyzer tests, computerized tic-tac-toe, and even harness racing on the Parkway.
Exxon became the official sponsor in the ’90s, rebranding it as Exxon Super Sunday. But in 1998, Exxon withdrew its sponsorship, leading to the festival’s demise. Its success had inspired imitators like Unity Day and Welcome America, ultimately overshadowing the pioneering Super Sunday.
In the end, Super Sunday’s legacy was one of breaking new ground and creating a vibrant, diverse, and unforgettable celebration.