NEW YORK – The nation’s largest fireworks show lit up the skies in a burst of red, white and blue over the Hudson River straddling New York and New Jersey on Sunday, a scene that was being repeated in hundreds of communities in a sizzling end to a scorching day for much of the U.S.
“It’s amazing on TV,” said Marcos Jimenez, a golf caddy who joined thousands of others lining the riverfront for a prime view of the show. “I figured seeing it live would be even better.”
Budget cuts forced some communities to pull the plug on the pyrotechnics, but the gigantic Macy’s fireworks show went on as planned on Manhattan’s West Side, where it moved in 2009 after eight years on the East River.
The shimmering fireworks that streaked across the night sky replaced a blazing sun that broiled nearly everywhere east of the Mississippi as well as the Southwest, with temperatures in the 90s.
In Washington, vendors with stocked coolers hawked “cold,” “ice cold,” and even “super cold” bottles of water along Constitution Avenue. There was a long line for watermelon – $3 for a huge wedge – and near the Washington Monument, firefighters and U.S. Park Police officers sprayed hoses into the crowd.
In Washington, thousands gathered on the National Mall were treated to 17 minutes of fireworks, shot off behind the Washington Monument. Thousands of visitors sat on the steps of the U.S. Capitol for the July 4 concert, featuring David Archuleta, Reba McEntire and the National Symphony Orchestra.
The Obama family celebrated the holiday by hosting members of the military and their families for a barbecue, concert and a view of fireworks on the South Lawn of the White House.
“Michelle and I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate America’s birthday than with America’s extraordinary men and women in uniform and their families,” President Barack Obama told the guests.
Festivities in Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, will conclude today after 11 days of parades and concerts. The Goo Goo Dolls headlined a free concert on Sunday night, followed by a fireworks show.
There were more than 40 firework displays in Los Angeles. One of the largest in the area is held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Fire crews spread fire retardant on the nearby hillsides to prevent sparks from igniting brush fires.
In Durango, Colo., the fireworks display will go on thanks to embattled oil giant BP.
The company stepped forward in December to pay for the fireworks show, five months before oil began spilling from the spot in the Gulf of Mexico where one of the company’s rigs exploded.
City officials were poised to cancel the $15,000 show because of a budget crunch but BP, which drills for natural gas in Colorado, offered to pick up the tab.