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Coast To Coast: The 10 Biggest Fourth Of July Events In The U.S

Not sure how to celebrate American independence this coming July? Learn more about the nation's top 10 Fourth of July events, spanning from sea to shining sea. See how party-goers will be spending their Independence Day in metropolitan cities like New York and Boston as well as in the West, Midwest, and South.

1. Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular -- New York, NY

Boasting the largest display of fireworks in the nation, the Macy's Independence Day celebration in New York City is arguably the nation's most popular event. The fireworks extravaganza takes place over the East River, with the New York Fire Department adding to the fun by shooting colored spouts of water into the air with their fire boats. Enjoy the live performance on television via NBC or by radio on 1010 WINS. There are a vast number of wonderful locations from which to watch in person in the city as well as across the Hudson River in New Jersey. The fireworks launch from between 23rd and 42nd Streets, and virtually any location with an unobstructed view of the sky in Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens makes an ideal spot. Permitted boaters can also watch from select locations and should contact the Coast Guard for further information. Locations both in and out of state fill up fast, so claim a spot early. Find out more at the Macy's website.

2. A Capitol Fourth Concert & Fireworks -- Washington D.C.

What better place to celebrate American independence and the rise of democracy than the nation's capitol? Begin the day by attending the parade at 11:45 AM, which will travel through the city from Constitution Avenue and 7th to 17th Streets. Visit the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall to learn about national traditions presented through music and dance performances, cooking demonstrations, and opportunities to discuss cultural issues. This year's Festival will spotlight NASA, Texas, and Bhutan. The National Archives will offer family events centered around the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and the White House Visitor Center is also hosting kid-friendly games and crafts. At 8 PM (the gates open at 5 PM) claim a spot on the Capitol Building's West Lawn for A Capitol Fourth Concert, free of charge. This annual tradition features the National Symphony Orchestra as well as pop musicians, with American Idol's Taylor Hicks joining the 2008 show. A fireworks display follows the concert, launching from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. The fireworks can be viewed in person from the Capitol Building, the Lincoln, Jefferson, and FDR Memorials, East Potomac Park, and from any place along the National Mall between the Capitol Building and 14th Street. Spectators on Virginia's side of the Potomac River will also enjoy excellent views. Tune into the live concert and fireworks remotely on PBS. Find educational media, quizzes, and further information about A Capitol Fourth at the PBS website.

3. Welcome America! -- Philadelphia, PA

Travel to where American independence began and attend Philadelphia's Welcome America! festival, hosted by Sunoco. First opening in 1993, the 2008 festivities are tentatively scheduled for June 28 to July 6. Events include salsa dancing, Latin dance and musical performances, delicious food, and a film series that includes adult and child fare alike such as Happy Feet and Rocky. The festival also features a family-friendly series of educational games and activities called Go 4th & Learn. At 7:30 PM on July 4, the Southwest Airlines July 4th Parade will make its way along Benjamin Franklin Parkway; catch it live on television on 6ABC. Two concerts cap the celebration, showcasing John Legend for the Independence Day Celebrate Freedom Concert (8:30 PM on the steps of the Art Museum), with Boyz II Men following on July 5 (6:30 PM at the Great Plaza at Penn's Landing). Both concerts culminate with a fireworks show. Enjoy the July 4 concert via 6ABC's live television broadcast. Visit the festival's official website to volunteer, read the venue's blog, and to stay current with event updates as they are released.

4. Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular -- Boston, MA

Celebrate American independence where the struggle toward democracy began over 200 years ago -- historic Boston. The festivities consist of a free Boston Pops concert which takes place on the beautiful Esplanade and Oval, overlooking the Charles River. This year's concert begins at 8:30 PM on both July 3 and July 4, with an gorgeous fireworks show concluding the music on Independence Day. As this is an extremely popular event for both resident Bostonians and visitors alike, arrive at the Esplanade early to secure a location -- the Oval opens at 4 PM on July 3 and at 9 AM on the Fourth. For those who would prefer to participate from home, WBZ-TV's local broadcast begins on July 4 at 8 PM, with CBS hosting the national broadcast at 10 PM. Check out the Boston 4 Celebrations website for additional information.

5. Americafest 2008 & The Rose Bowl -- Pasadena, CA

Head west to southern California for the 82nd Americafest Independence Day celebration and Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl features performances by precision DCI drum corps hailing from Arizona, California, and Illinois, including the famed Blue Devils of Santa Clara, CA. The evening of intricately choreographed performances comes to a close with a fireworks display. A fun and kid-friendly event, the Rose Bowl costs $13 per ticket for Adults, with children under 7 as well as active military service persons and their families admitted free of charge. Find out more and download a schedule of exhibits, food, and craft events at the official Rose Bowl Stadium site.

6. Go 4th on the River -- New Orleans, LA

This year's Independence Day is sure to be special as New Orleans celebrates American independence as well as the heroes of the Katrina disaster and recovery efforts. Wander the French Quarter and the Riverfront for both adult- and kid-focused events. Check out Mardi Gras World for a free party with live music, food, and a tour, starting at 5:30 PM. Jax Brewery will host kid-friendly activities from Radio Disney, and throughout the afternoon visitors will be able to catch more live music and Cajun dancing near the French Market. Attend the 14th Annual Essence Music Festival, playing from July 4-6 at the Louisiana Superdome, featuring hip-hop, R&B, blues, and soul performers each night in addition to "empowerment seminars" during the day. Purchase tickets at the Essence website. The celebration concludes with the Dueling Barges fireworks show, which can be viewed along the Riverfront as well as via private cruises hosted by vessels like the Steamboat Natchez, boasting great views, food, drinks, and music. Visit the New Orleans events page for further information.

7. America's Freedom Festival -- Provo, UT

Rooted in celebrations Dating back to the 1870s, America's Freedom Festival is a collection of over twenty-five annual events located in Provo, UT, that begin in March and last span the Fourth of July. The private, non-profit, non-political foundation that hosts the celebration is dedicated not only to commemorating the holiday but also to fostering patriotism in participants. The Festival draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from every state as well as other countries. The theme for this year's venue is "American Values -- Family, Freedom, God and Country." The weekend of July 4 boasts the Freedom Run 10K, 5K, and 1K runs, the educational Ellis Island in the Park presentation, and the opportunity for visitors to get up close and personal with the parade balloons at Balloon Fest. Key events include the free Grand Parade, which takes place on the morning of the Fourth and features bands, floats, balloons, and other performers. Be sure to check out Freedom Days as well, a showcase of entertainment, food, artwork, and activities, including many family-friendly offerings, that remains open July 3-5. The Festival concludes with the spectacular Stadium of Fire, a concert event featuring Miley Cyrus of Hannah Montana fame and BlueMan Group. The following free-of-charge fireworks display rounds off the festivities. To learn more about the Festival and to purchase Stadium of Fire tickets, visit the celebration's official website.

8. Red, White, and Boom -- Columbus, OH

The premier Independence Day celebration of the Midwest, this Columbus, OH, event opens for the twenty-eighth time on July 3. Vendors, live performers and musical entertainment as well as kid-friendly activities are spread throughout the city's downtown. Drawing an average of 500, 000 visitors each year, the celebration truly begins in the evening, with a fly-over hosted by the Ohio Air National Guard kicking off the AEP Independence Day Parade. The festivities round up with an impressive fireworks presentation. Watch in person, or tune in on television through NBC 4 or via radio's WNCI 97.9. Visit the event's website for further details.

9. Navy Pier Fireworks -- Chicago, IL

Head to the Great Lakes region of metropolitan Chicago for a fun family day and some of the best fireworks in the nation. Navy Pier and the city of Chicago will host a day of family-friendly activities. Visitors can attend free interactive performances that feature appearances by Patch, the Navy Pier mascot, as well as the pirates of Lake Michigan. Children and their families can meet the actors later in the day as well as chat with street performers. Round off the day with a wonderful display of fireworks, beginning around 9:30 PM. Check out the Navy Pier Beer Garden for the best viewing. Visit the Navy Pier website for additional information.

10. NASCAR's Coke Zero 400 --Daytona Beach, FL

Not a fireworks fan? Celebrate independence NASCAR style instead! While the fireworks are cooling down across the nation, Daytona International Speedway is just heating up for the NASCAR Coke Zero 400 race. Formerly the Pepsi 400, this annual race features the best of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on July 5, wrapping up a weekend of smaller races but no less exciting races. The Coke Zero 400 begins at 8 PM, and racing fans can tune in to TNT at 6:30 PM to watch this historic race, featuring its signature 31-degree high banks. To purchase tickets and discover more about NASCAR and Daytona Beach, visit the official Daytona website.

By Elizabeth Morey - Always an avid reader, my life-long passion for stories and word craft has led me to write both fiction and poetry in addition to non-fiction. My poetry has appeared in Three One Six, Haruah, French Creek, ...  

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