While America still has baseball and apple pie, hot dogs were the domain of the Japanese on this Fourth of July.
Hirofumi Nakajima, the 135-pound world champ, left American challenger Ed Krachie gasping for air in setting a new international record: 24-1/2 hot dogs in 12 minutes at the 82nd annual Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.
It was Nakajima’s second straight Nathan’s title. Krachie actually finished third, behind another Japanese competitor: 100-pound Kazutoyo “The Rabbit” Arai.
The Rabbit implausibly pounded down 24 dogs, while Krachie - known as “The Animal” - inhaled 20.
“I’m dumbfounded on how someone that small can do it,” said the 6-foot-7, 330-pound Krachie, who announced his retirement after the match. “I don’t know where they put it. Both of those guys put together weigh less than me.”
Elsewhere, America marked its 221st birthday with fireworks, parades and a biker gathering honoring the anniversary of the so-called Battle of Hollister - the riotous party in California that inspired the Marlon Brando movie “The Wild One.”
Hollister’s anniversary celebration got off to a roaring start Friday, although a couple of motorcycle mishaps put a damper on things.
Six people were injured in two accidents where the motorcyclist lost control of his bike. Six people, including one of the bikers who crashed, were arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.
Authorities prepared for more than 100,000 people from all over the world to pour into the town of 25,000, about 85 miles southeast of San Francisco.
The bikers arrived for the three-day festival eager to celebrate the non-conformist image that the 1947 event helped create. It was in Hollister over the 1947 Independence Day weekend that some bikers attending a nearby rally got drunk, turned its main street into a race track and even rode through a hotel lobby.
Beauty queens, a phalanx of sailors and eight drum-and-bugle corps participated in the nation’s oldest continuously held Fourth of July parade in Bristol, R.I.
Historic, but not tradition-bound, the 2.6-mile parade - started in 1785 as a prayerful walk to celebrate independence from England - now includes teams of aerobic dancers in Spandex and a trumpet-playing Elvis.
“I get goose bumps every time,” said 72-year-old Clara Pinhero, who’s gone to the parade with her family for as long as she can remember.
It was a different kind of goose bump for 75 nudists in Titusville, Fla., who stripped and wrapped themselves in cloth replicas of the Constitution to protest arrests of nudists at a beach at the Canaveral National Seashore. There were no arrests.
At naturalization ceremonies that have been a July 4 tradition at Monticello, Va., since 1963, Colin Powell urged 64 new citizens to become involved with community associations, to read and watch the news and to share their views with their leaders.
Twenty-nine immigrants became U.S. citizens aboard a special ceremony on the USS Constitution in Boston Harbor, the world’s oldest commissioned warship, as did 16 adopted children in Miami.
“I’m going to be an American. It’s cool,” said 9-year-old Elizabeth Butler, who was adopted by Dena and Walt Butler of Florida, from a Romanian orphanage.