Party in the USA: America celebrates its independence


From fireworks soaring above the Washington Monument to hot dogs being downed in New York City’s frank-eating contest, Americans aren’t shy about celebrating their nation’s birthday. Many places are rolling out long-established Independence Day traditions on Monday (even if some of those traditions aren’t as long-established as they sound). Rain was forecast in many cities, but revelers were trying not to let it dampen their fun. Some Fourth of July highlights from around the country:

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OBAMA: AMERICA A ‘MIRACLE’

President Barack Obama called America a “miracle” that needs to be defended and nurtured on Monday during his final July Fourth celebration at the White House.

The Democrat made the brief comments to hundreds of people who gathered after rain forced officials to cancel an annual barbecue on the South lawn for military service members, veterans and their families.

It was the second straight year that weather scuttled the picnic.

Obama also led the audience in singing “Happy Birthday” to his older daughter, Malia Obama, who turned 18, reminding those gathered it’s a father’s job to embarrass his daughter.

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INCREASED SECURITY FOR NEW YORK CITY’S FIREWORKS SHOW

Police have dispatched 5,000 officers to oversee the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks display in the nation’s largest city. That’s the largest detail the New York Police Department has ever assigned on July Fourth.

Authorities say there are no known, credible threats against New York but vowed to remain vigilant as more than 1 million spectators gather to view Macy’s annual fireworks display over the East River.

Chief of Department Jim O’Neill said there will be officers equipped with heavy vests, helmets and rifles at the 24 entry points to see the show.

More than 30 police dogs will be on patrol as well as every NYPD boat from the marine unit, O’Neill said.

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COOL, RAINY WEATHER DAMPENS JULY FOURTH IN THE NATION’S CAPITAL

Unseasonably cool, rainy weather has dampened the festivities along the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Just hours before the massive fireworks display in the nation’s capital Monday, only a handful of people were picnicking in tents or under makeshift shelters. Others headed for the museum.

But as vendors hawked ponchos and umbrellas, some of the faithful fireworks fans said they would brave the elements no matter how rainy it got.

“We’re not going anywhere,” vowed Heather Wright, of Columbus, Ohio, as she camped under a tent with her husband, their 9-year-old son and their 10-year-old nephew.

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IN THE NATION’S BIRTHPLACE, A PARADE AND A PARKWAY PARTY

In Philadelphia, where the Founding Fathers approved the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, the national birthday party runs all day.

It kicked off at 10 a.m. with a reading of the document and an event honoring everyday heroes, with celebrity guest Leslie Odom Jr., a Philadelphia native who plays Aaron Burr in the Broadway musical “Hamilton.” Then came the holiday parade, including Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell.

Next up was a five-hour party with free entertainment on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The celebration was to continue with a five-hour concert with performers including Odom and singer-songwriter Leon Bridges. Fireworks close out the day.

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NEW YORK: FRANKS AND FIREWORKS

American as apple pie? Fuhgeddaboudit. The frankfurter rules the Fourth in New York City, where the annual Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest marks its centennial this year — well, not really.

Nathan’s dates to 1916, but showmen behind the hot dog competition have acknowledged they made up a long-told story about the contest beginning that year, too. It actually started in the 1970s.

Joey “Jaws” Chestnut beat his record Monday when he polished off 70 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. He also regained his title after losing the Mustard Yellow International Belt to Matt “The Megatoad” Stonie in 2015.

“Last year was rough,” Chestnut told the crowd. “This year was the best ever.”

Later Monday, Macy’s promised its biggest Fourth of July fireworks display since the millennium show of 2000. The show was to feature more than 56,000 pyrotechnic shells, 22 hues and the New York debut of pyro-writing in the sky, all synchronized to patriotic tunes performed by the United States Air Force Band. Country singer Kenny Chesney, pop band 5 Seconds of Summer and pop singer Meghan Trainor were among the performers.

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BOSTON’S BLOWOUT

Hundreds of thousands of people were expected to line the banks of Boston’s Charles River to watch the fireworks there, with millions more across the country watching live on CBS.

The celebration featured pop stars Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato, country group Little Big Town and, as always, the Boston Pops Orchestra, which drives home the climactic fireworks finale to Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.”

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JULY FOURTH, CALIFORNIA-STYLE

There’s a something-for-everyone approach to fireworks in Los Angeles, where displays were planned at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Hollywood Bowl, Grand Park near City Hall and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, among other places around the massive metro area. San Francisco holds a large fireworks display over the San Francisco Bay.

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IN OKLAHOMA, A PARTY TO COMMEMORATE THE NATION’S BIRTHDAY

About 80,000 people were expected to gather Monday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to celebrate the nation’s birthday and the reopening of the River West Festival Park along the Arkansas River. Revelers at 2016 Folds of Honor FreedomFest will enjoy food trucks, inflatable rides, games and live music as fireworks choreographed to patriotic music fire off in the background.

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NATION’S OLDEST ONGOING JULY FOURTH PARTY

A seaside town in Rhode Island hosted what’s known as the nation’s oldest continuous Fourth of July celebration, with 19 marching bands and 17 floats making their way through the streets of Bristol.

About 100,000 people turn out for the parade in a typical year, city officials say.

An Independence Day celebration has taken place in Bristol since 1785, and the event has become entwined with the town’s identity, WPRI-TV reported. A red, white and blue center stripe runs down the town’s main street, and real estate listings for houses often note if they are on or near the parade route.