US marks In­de­pen­dence Day with pomp, daz­zle, hot dog con­test

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Amer­i­cans are cel­e­brat­ing their coun­try’s birth­day yes­ter­day with big­time fire­works, small-town pa­rades and the quirky spec­ta­cle of com­pet­i­tive hot dog eat­ing, mark­ing a day of shared tra­di­tions in a na­tion that has grap­pled with di­vides this past year. In New York, throngs are ex­pected to watch the an­nual Macy’s fire­works blowout and the Nathan’s Fa­mous frank­furter-chomp­ing con­test on Coney Is­land on July Fourth.

In Wash­ing­ton, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is ob­serv­ing his first In­de­pen­dence Day in of­fice by host­ing a White House pic­nic for mil­i­tary fam­i­lies, fol­lowed by a fire­works view­ing event for mil­i­tary fam­i­lies and staffers. In Bos­ton, one of 14 orig­i­nal copies of the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence will be dis­played at a mu­seum, and hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple are ex­pected at the city’s fire­works show.

Or­ga­niz­ers of Chicago’s In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­bra­tion are ex­pect­ing such large crowds that the city’s Navy Pier is open­ing at 10 am, nearly 12 hours be­fore fire­works be­gin. Mean­while, more than 15,000 new ci­ti­zens will be sworn in dur­ing more than 65 In­de­pen­dence Day-themed nat­u­ral­iza­tion cer­e­monies across the coun­try. For all the pomp and cel­e­bra­tion, July 4 ar­rives with Amer­i­cans deeply split over the na­tion’s di­rec­tion, af­ter last year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and po­lit­i­cal clashes over im­mi­gra­tion, health care and other is­sues in the early months of Trump’s Repub­li­can ad­min­is­tra­tion.

And in an era of con­cerns about se­cu­rity, the In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­bra­tions are mixed with pre­cau­tions. The New York Po­lice Depart­ment planned to sta­tion 100 ve­hi­cles to block in­ter­sec­tions and 20 sand­filled san­i­ta­tion trucks to for­tify view­ing ar­eas for the Macy’s fire­works show. Heav­ily armed coun­tert­er­ror­ism units will min­gle among spec­ta­tors, of­fi­cers will have portable ra­di­a­tion de­tec­tion de­vices and bomb-sniff­ing dogs, and of­fi­cers will be sta­tioned on rooftops to look out for any sign of trou­ble.

Bos­ton po­lice also plan to put trucks and other heavy equip­ment near the cel­e­bra­tion there. Po­lice in both cities say there are no con­firmed threats. In a somber ob­ser­vance of the toll of ter­ror, small Amer­i­can flags will be placed by all the nearly 3,000 names on the Na­tional Sept 11 Memo­rial in New York. Mean­while, res­i­dents of La­co­nia, New Hamp­shire, might not have had a Fourth of July pa­rade if a res­i­dent hadn’t stepped in to or­ga­nize it af­ter learn­ing it was fac­ing can­cel­la­tion for lack of in­ter­est. Some 25 or­ga­ni­za­tions have since signed up to pro­vide floats or marchers. — AP

WASH­ING­TON: Molly Schuyler (right), who is #1 ranked com­pet­i­tive eater in the world, eats a hamburger’s dur­ing Z Burger’s eighth an­nual In­de­pen­dence Burger Eat­ing Cham­pi­onship in Wash­ing­ton, DC. Molly beat her com­pe­ti­tion by eat­ing 21 ham­burg­ers. —AFP

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