The 4th of July is Independence Day for the United States and is celebrated across the country with patriotic displays, parades, and picnics (with the obligatory apple pie, of course). One tradition that soars above all others, literally, is that of fabulous fireworks displays in the night sky. I’ve always loved the pomp and pageantry of huge pyrotechnic extravaganzas set to patriotic music, but I have had just as much fun in the back yard with a small group of friends, watching the kids write their names with sparklers in the dark. I’ve set off bottle rockets, flying spinners, and roman candles on the beach and I’ve watched others do the same from off shore in a boat.
For the large fest-events with thousands of people, advance planning and an early start is essential. You have to pack up chairs, blankets, Frisbee and bug spray then go hours early to stake out just the right viewing spot. The masses that will come to watch is directly proportional to the grandeur of the fireworks so for the biggest and best, throw together a picnic dinner (don’t forget the apple pie), go early, and be prepared to bide your time until the show begins.
Three of my favorite 4th of July Celebrations are:
The National Mall, Washington, DC– If you go to DC, plan to spend the day on the Mall, starting with a parade along Constitution Avenue. There are many events all day, including music and dance performances, family programming at the National Archives, and the annual Capitol Fourth Concert by the National Symphony Orchestra. At the end of the day, spectacular fireworks are launched from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. One of my most patriotic 4th’s included singing “The Star Spangled Banner” to the boom of “the rocket’s red glare” exploding over the Washington Monument. It still gives me chills to remember!
Boston, MA with the Boston Pops– This is a magnificent production of pyrotechnics set to an always brilliant orchestral performance by the Boston Pops. You can best enjoy the concert from the Oval Lawn in front of the famous Half Shell stage, but the area is surrounded by trees, so for the best view of the fireworks, find a spot on either the Boston or the Cambridge sides of the Charles River. When I went to this event, the general area was filling quickly at 10am, so go early and plan to spend the day – you won’t be sorry!
The Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks, New York City – Macy’s has sponsored 4th of July fireworks in NYC since 1958. This year, over 40,000 shells will explode over the Hudson River from barges positioned between 24th and 50th Streets. For a no cost view, your best bet will be from the west side 30th to 50th Streets or the Jersey waterfront. It will be crowded, so find a spot well before dusk and don’t count on public restroom availability! For $80-100 per person, you can see the fireworks from various water-borne venues. Wherever you view the spectacular, you are sure to have an authentic NY experience!
Wherever you are – For Americans, this holiday is all about showing pride in our country and celebrating the independence She stands for. Every town, large or small will have a celebration of some sort, whether it’s a parade and a community picnic or an all out fireworks extravaganza. So strut your red, white, and blue proudly!