Americans eat, race, have blasts
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.
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.