Our 4th of July Guide
When the United States celebrates its birthday this Fourth of July, skies will explode with cascading colors from coast to coast. From backyard to beach, from border to border, the lights in the sky are guaranteed to light up your grandchildren’s eyes.
Julia Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association, says the States' residents explode about 280 million pounds of fireworks a year. About 75 percent of the nation's annual fireworks are ignited during the weekend of the Fourth of July.
Here are some fireworks shows worth a special trip.
The Big Apple boasts the Biggest Birthday Bash in the Sky, with the 37th Annual Macy's 4th of July Fireworks over New York City. More than 40,000 shells, fired from barges in the East River, will flare in careful sync to performances by Mariah Carey and Tim McGraw. If you can't see it in person, you and the family can tune in to NBC. This year’s theme is “It Begins With a Spark” marking the 127th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, as well as the 237th birthday of the United States..
Largest Land-Based Fireworks
Head to Houston if you want to see a show billed as the largest fireworks show over land. The eyes of Texas will be looking up at the fireworks spectacular, Freedom Over Texas. The celebration at Eleanor Tinsley Park features Sheryl Crow and Martina McBride, an outdoor beer garden with a view of the Bud Light Texas Volleyball Championship Series Finals, and an All-American Kid's Zone filled with magicians, a henna-tattoo artist, and clowns to entertain the grandchildren.
Lakefront and Fireworks
Chicago’s downtown lakefront will be full of bright lights and patriotic music as the city celebrates the Fourth of July with the rest of the country. Take a ride along the Seadog Fireworks Cruise to get a panoramic view of the spectacular event and the world famous Chicago skyline.
Rodeo and Fireworks
The Greeley, Colo., Stampede bills itself as the "World's Largest 4th of July Rodeo and Western Celebration." Along with the fireworks, the Stampede features a demolition derby, Western art show, fiddle contest, longhorn parade, kids rodeo, and petting zoo, all at Island Grove Park.
The fireworks bursting in air over the Washington Monument make the District of Columbia the patriotic epicenter for the nation's birthday party. Special events for the public are planned at the National Mall, Constitution Avenue, and the National Archives. View the fireworks from the West Lawn, rooftop restaurants, or a cruise boat on the Potomac.
Lantern lights in a Boston church tower signaled colonial resistance to the British in 1775. Now Boston celebrates America's independence on the Charles River Esplanade where 20,000 pounds of explosives light up the skies. Fireworks devices from Portugal, Spain, China, Japan, and Italy will enrich the display.
Disney’s Dazzling Display
The skies of Orlando, Fla., will light up with Walt Disney World Resort's all-theme parks celebrations at Disney-MGM Studios, Epcot, and the Magic Kingdom all providing grand shows. There will also be a street party with live entertainment and fireworks at Pleasure Island in Downtown Disney.
Food and Fireworks
Leave it to Philadelphia, America’s birthplace, to celebrate America’s birthday with a robust food and fireworks festival, “Welcome America!." In Philadelphia, Penn., the festivities begin with “The Taste of Philadelphia” weekend, where guests enjoy treats from some of the area's most notable restaurants, and end with the annual Philadelphia Independence Day Parade.
Parade and Fireworks
In St. Louis, Mo., Independence Day celebrations begin soon after the close of a 130-year tradition known as the Veiled Prophet Parade. The parade features marching bands, floats, giant balloons, military guards, and more. Once that’s done, the crowd can walk to the Gateway Arch for Fair St. Louis for the real fireworks fun.
The Waterfront Independence Festival in Louisville, Kent., has not one, but two days of fireworks and celebrations that include free concerts and family fun. Kids can explore the playful side of science with “The Science is Fun” activities tent, climb and play with the inflatable games, and cool off with the fun watermister.
No Place Like Home
Perhaps the best place to celebrate is right in your own hometown! First, help the grandchildren decorate their bikes for the local parade. Then pack a picnic (and bug spray), and head for the nearest fireworks display. There's nothing like lazing on the grass with your family, friends, and neighbors, ooh-ing and aah-ing at the confetti, pinwheels, falling stars, blooms, and explosions of color in the sky overhead.
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