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Wawa Sponsors Philadelphia's July 4 Festivities

WAWA, Pa. -- Philadelphia's official Independence Day celebration has been renamed the Wawa Welcome America celebration, as the company became the new title sponsor of the July Fourth festival, replacing Sunoco Inc., which had been associated with the multi-day event since the mid-1990s, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Howard Stoeckel, president and chief executive officer of Wawa, told the paper the convenience store company was "thrilled to be the title sponsor of this important regional celebration at a time when the eyes of the nation are on the great city of Philadelphia."

As part of the sponsorship, Wawa will contribute more than $3 million over three years in funding and services to the festival, officials said in the report.

Sunoco's contract expired last year, and it is not participating in the festival this year, according to Melanie Johnson, executive director of Welcome America, a nonprofit run by the city.

"They've been a great partner," Johnson said of Sunoco.

Sunoco spokesman Thomas Golembeski told the paper the company had decided to redirect its community resources to education, workforce development, and environmental stewardship, and being the main sponsor of the festival was not part of its plans.

"We fulfilled our contract" last year and notified festival organizers "we would not stand in the way of another company stepping in," Golembeski said in the report.

In other sponsorship news, global energy firm BP joined the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) as the official energy partner. BP will be a sponsor of the 2010 and 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams, as well as the 2011 U.S. Pan American Team, reported

"Today marks a big win for the USOC," USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said in the report. "We are extremely proud and appreciative to welcome BP to our growing family of U.S. Olympic Partners. The Olympic and Paralympic Games are the ultimate showcase of human endeavor and performance, and we are thrilled to partner with an organization that has high performance at its heart."

BP America Chairman and President Lamar Mckay added: "We look forward to partnering with America's Olympic and Paralympic teams to engage with the millions of customers we serve each day, as well as our own employees. As the largest contributor to U.S. energy development including oil, gas, biofuels, wind, solar and energy efficiency, we are pleased to support Team USA and the USOC."

Along with BP's sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams, the company will be the presenting partner of a Washington, D.C., reception honoring Team USA after their return from both the 2010 and 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

BP Group Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Luc Bardin added: "BP is committed to providing the energy the U.S. needs through a broad and diverse energy mix. The USOC is committed to more sustainable behaviors and practices. Together, we believe we can improve our energy efficiency programs and provide opportunities for athletes and fellow Americans to do it with us. As a first step, the USOC will operate its car fleet at zero carbon by using BP's target neutral program. Through multiple joint activities, our partnership will allow us to demonstrate how BP is a company that operates at the frontier and makes a difference."

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