Amer­i­cans eat, race, have blasts

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - RE­BECCA GIBIAN

NEW YORK — Amer­i­cans cel­e­brated their coun­try’s 241st birth­day Tues­day with big-time fire­works, small-town pa­rades and the quirky spec­ta­cle of com­pet­i­tive hot-dog eat­ing.

The fes­tiv­i­ties stretched from a base­ball home run derby in Lon­don to a pic­nic at the White House to a Utah ski town where res­i­dents ini­tially weren’t even sure they’d be home for In­de­pen­dence Day af­ter re­cent wild­fires.

In New York, throngs were ex­pected to watch the an­nual Macy’s fire­works show, which in­volves 60,000 shells launched from up to five barges on the East River and per­for­mances by Jen­nifer Lopez, Sh­eryl Crow, Brad Pais­ley and oth­ers. It was to be tele­vised on NBC.

The New York Po­lice Depart­ment sta­tioned 100 ve­hi­cles to block in­ter­sec­tions and 20 sand-filled san­i­ta­tion trucks to for­tify view­ing ar­eas for the Macy’s fire­works show. Heav­ily armed coun­tert­er­ror­ism units were min­gling among spec­ta­tors, of­fi­cers were to have portable ra­di­a­tion de­tec­tion de­vices and bomb-sniff­ing dogs, and of­fi­cers were sta­tioned on rooftops to look out for any sign of trou­ble.

Or­ga­niz­ers of Chicago’s

In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­bra­tion were ex­pect­ing such large crowds that the city’s Navy Pier opened at 10 a.m., nearly 12 hours be­fore fire­works were to be­gin. Hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple also were ex­pected at Bos­ton’s fire­works show and Bos­ton Pops con­cert.

Bos­ton po­lice also planned to put trucks and other heavy equip­ment near the cel­e­bra­tion there. Po­lice in both cities said there were no con­firmed threats.

In a somber ob­ser­vance of the toll of ter­ror, small Amer­i­can flags were placed Tues­day morn­ing by all the nearly 3,000 names on the Na­tional Sept. 11 Memo­rial in New York

For Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s first In­de­pen­dence Day in of­fice, he and first lady Me­la­nia Trump were host­ing a pic­nic for mil­i­tary fam­i­lies at the White House, fol­lowed by a fire­works view­ing for mil­i­tary fam­i­lies and staff mem­bers. The cap­i­tal city’s fire­works fes­tiv­i­ties, aired on PBS, were to in­clude per­for­mances by The Beach Boys, The Four Tops, coun­try mu­si­cians Kel­lie Pick­ler and Trace Ad­kins, and two char­ac­ters who fought for in­de­pen­dence in a galaxy far, far away — Star Wars droids R2-D2 and C-3PO. This year marks the movie’s 40th an­niver­sary.

But be­fore the pic­nic, Trump kicked off his hol­i­day at his golf club in Vir­ginia. The pres­i­dent ar­rived at the club in Ster­ling just be­fore 10 a.m. and spent nearly four hours there be­fore re­turn­ing to the White House. Aides did not an­swer ques­tions about whether he was golf­ing.

More than 15,000 new ci­ti­zens were to be sworn in

dur­ing more than 65 In­de­pen­dence Day-themed nat­u­ral­iza­tion cer­e­monies across the coun­try. They were tak­ing place in lo­cales rang­ing from court­houses to parks to air­craft-car­ri­ers-turned-mu­se­ums.

Record-set­ter Joey “Jaws” Chest­nut held on to his ti­tle at the hot-dog eat­ing con­test at Nathan’s Fa­mous in New York, break­ing the record he set last year. The San Jose, Calif., man downed 72 hot dogs in 10 min­utes, best­ing last year’s mark of 70.

Mean­while, Miki Sudo notched a fourth-straight win in the women’s divi­sion on the Coney Is­land board­walk. The Las Ve­gas woman ate 41 hot dogs and buns in 10 min­utes.

Tens of thou­sands of am­a­teur run­ners in At­lanta cel­e­brated the Fourth by trail­ing af­ter an elite band of pro­fes­sion­als in the city’s an­nual 10K race.

Or­ga­niz­ers of the AJC Peachtree Road Race said more than 55,000 run­ners took part Tues­day morn­ing in hot, hu­mid weather un­der clear skies.

In Philadel­phia, where the Found­ing Fa­thers ap­proved the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence on July 4, 1776, a day­long na­tional birth­day party was tak­ing place.

At a cel­e­bra­tion-of-free­dom cer­e­mony at In­de­pen­dence Hall, mem­bers of the mu­si­cal group Boyz II Men read ex­cerpts from the doc­u­ment, and a pa­rade was held through the city’s his­toric area. De­scen­dants of some of the sign­ers of the Dec­la­ra­tion were to take part in the an­nual cer­e­mo­nial tap­ping of the Lib­erty Bell later Tues­day.

Then, hun­dreds of thou­sands were ex­pected to at­tend a party on the Ben­jamin Franklin Park­way with hours of free mu­sic capped by a

con­cert by Mary J. Blige and end­ing with the an­nual fire­works dis­play.

Res­i­dents of the south­ern Utah ski re­sort town of Brian Head were plan­ning a fire­works-free cel­e­bra­tion, hav­ing just re­turned home Fri­day af­ter a wild­fire forced evac­u­a­tions in the town two weeks ear­lier.

“None of us even knew if we were go­ing to be open for the Fourth of July,” Brian Head Re­sort spokesman Mark Wilder said.

The alpine town is near sev­eral na­tional mon­u­ments and parks in Utah’s red rock coun­try. Brian Head is nor­mally filled with ven­dors sell­ing crafts and food on the hol­i­day, one of the big­gest cel­e­brated at the re­sort and the start of the area’s fes­ti­val sea­son, Wilder said.

But he said the town sus­pended its fire­works show this year be­cause the area is still too dry and ripe for fires.

Mean­while, at Cal­i­for­nia’s Squaw Val­ley ski re­sort, skiers were poised to en­joy a rare July Fourth on the slopes. It’s only the fourth time the re­sort has ever been open in July.

Of­fi­cials said an In­di­ana man died in Ken­tucky in a fire­works ac­ci­dent.

The Gleaner news­pa­pers re­ported that the Hen­der­son County coro­ner’s of­fice said Michael Os­borne, 25, died Mon­day night at a hos­pi­tal. A deputy coro­ner said Os­borne, of Salem, Ind., was bend­ing over a fire­work to light it when it went off pre­ma­turely and hit him in the chest. The fire­work hit Os­borne hard enough to stop his heart, and the pre­lim­i­nary cause of death was blunt force trauma. An au­topsy was planned.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE

Spec­ta­tors watch Tues­day dur­ing the Fourth of July Spec­tac­u­lar fire­works dis­play and con­cert at the Wal­mart AMP in Rogers. The evening fea­tured fam­ily ac­tiv­i­ties be­fore a pre­sen­ta­tion of mu­sic from Sym­phony of North­west Arkansas fol­lowed by fire­works pro­vided by the city.

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