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The crowd reacts to performances during Philadelphia's annual Made in America Festival on Labor Day weekend in 2016. Credit: Marcus Katz

This Labor Day weekend, Penn students flocked to attend Made in America, an annual Philadelphia music festival to see performances from household names like Tyler, The Creator and Bad Bunny. 

The two-day event, founded by rapper and music industry executive Jay-Z, has been a staple in the city since its inception in 2012. The festival, which takes place on Benjamin Franklin Parkway in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is easily accessible by public transit from Penn's campus. While several Penn students raved about their experiences at the concert, some local residents voiced qualms about Made in America’s impact on the city. 

College sophomore Wangari Mbuthia, who attended the concert both this year and in 2021, said she thinks the festival is "a really big" event for Penn students to attend. 

She added that the highlight of the day for her was Burna Boy’s performance. 

“I knew most of the songs, so I could sing along and I could dance along. People were dancing, strangers were dancing with me, which [was] really nice,” Mbuthia said. 

College senior Sneha Ravi, who acquired her ticket to the festival from a last-minute giveaway, said she was excited to have the opportunity to attend Made in America for the first time. 

“I was really excited. I'm a big fan of Tyler, The Creator, so I had a really good time,” said Ravi. “Jazmine Sullivan is also a really amazing live vocalist. So seeing them both, I think, was worth it.”

The Made in America music festival, which attracts herds of tourists and Philadelphia residents, is a major moneymaker for the city. The Philadelphia Tribune estimated that roughly 50,000 people attend the event each year. 

Made in America has also paid millions of dollars to the city to rent out its venue. Historically, the festival has donated to poverty relief charity United Way of Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. 

Some Philadelphia residents, especially those that live in neighborhoods near the Parkway, have voiced qualms about the festival's impact on the city. In the week leading up to the event, street closures, concert construction, and limited parking can complicate daily activities for these residents.

Mayor Jim Kenney’s office previously announced that 2018 would be the last year that Made in America was held on the Parkway, due to the costs and the congestion associated with the event. Yet, the festival has continued to be held on the Parkway.  

Caroline Cahill, a longtime Philadelphia resident in her fifties who lives just blocks from where the festival is held, spoke to The Daily Pennsylvanian about the impact of major road closures, packed public transportation, and inescapable noise during the weekend of the music festival.  

“You feel trapped in your own neighborhood,” Cahill said. “I can kind of understand the Fourth of July, the other events that they have in the Parkway — they seem to be really, you know, for the public. Whereas [Made in America] seems to be like a private enterprise, and they're just totally taking advantage of this beautiful area.”

Several other local residents voiced their qualms with the festival's impact on the city to CBS Philadephia, citing fears of crime, as Benjamin Franklin Parkway was the location of a July 4 shooting that injured two police officers.

"We live a couple of blocks off the Parkway, we just don't feel safe," Philadelphia resident Tony Collins previously told CBS.