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U.S. celebrates July Fourth with parades, picnics, fireworks

  • People participate in the the Summerlin Council Patriotic Parade in Las Vegas, Tuesday, July 4, 2017. (Patrick Connolly/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP) Patrick Connolly

  • Patriotic stilt walkers wave to crowds during the Summerlin Council Patriotic Parade in Summerlin, Nev., on Tuesday, July 4, 2017. Patrick Connolly / Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP

  • Eight-year-old Hana Cho from Girl Scout Troop 5665 tests out a horn prior to participating the Fourth of July parade in Santa Monica, Calif. on Tuesday, July 4, 2017. Decked out in red, white and blue, Californians waved flags and sang patriotic songs at Independence Day parades across the state. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel) Richard Vogel

  • Joey Chestnut wins the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, marking his 10th victory in the event, Tuesday, July 4, 2017, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. He downed 72 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews) Bebeto Matthews

  • From left, Michelle Lesco, Miki Sudo and Sonya "The Black Widow Thomas compete in the Nathan's Famous Hotdog eating contest, Tuesday, July 4, 2017, in Brooklyn, New York. Sudo won after eating 41 hotdogs in 10 minutes to claim her fourth win. (AP Photo/Michael Noble Jr.) Michael Noble Jr.

  • People dressed as Stormtroopers participate in the Summerlin Council Patriotic Parade in Las Vegas on Tuesday, July 4, 2017. AP

  • A child takes a picture as President Donald Trump speaks at the Fourth of July picnic for military families on the South Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, July 4, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon

  • People enjoy the various fun floats and characters that make up the diversity of Utah County during the Freedom Festival Grand Parade on Tuesday, July 4, 2017 in Provo, Utah. (Dominic Valente/Daily Herald via AP) Dominic Valente

  • Members of Palo Verde cross country carry a large American flag during the the Summerlin Council Patriotic Parade in Las Vegas, Tuesday, July 4, 2017. (Patrick Connolly/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP) Patrick Connolly

  • A person dressed as a Ghostbuster high-fives a young parade goer during the the Summerlin Council Patriotic Parade in Las Vegas, Tuesday, July 4, 2017. (Patrick Connolly/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP) Patrick Connolly

  • Yesenia Woolard, right, takes a selfie with her mother Deyanira Reyna during the Summerlin Council Patriotic Parade in Summerlin, Nev. on Tuesday, July 4, 2017. (Patrick Connolly/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP) Patrick Connolly

  • A woman waves to crowds during the Summerlin Council Patriotic Parade in Summerlin, Nev. on Tuesday, July 4, 2017. (Patrick Connolly/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP) Patrick Connolly

  • People watch an Independence Day parade on Tuesday, July 4, 2017, in Vail, Colo. (Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily via AP) Chris Dillmann

  • Jack Roman, of Milton, Mass., waits for the start of the annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on the Esplanade, Tuesday, July 4, 2017, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) Michael Dwyer

  • Christian Jacobs waits in the rain for President Donald Trump at the Fourth of July picnic for military families on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on Tuesday, July 4, 2017. AP

  • Children huddle together to try to get out of the rain at the Fourth of July picnic for military families on the South Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, July 4, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon



Associated Press
Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Americans celebrated their country’s 241st birthday with big-time fireworks, small-town parades and the quirky spectacle of competitive hot dog eating.

Tuesday’s 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.

For all the pomp and celebration, July Fourth marks a day of shared traditions in a nation that has grappled with divides this past year. And in an era of concerns about security, the Independence Day celebrations are mixed with precautions.

Some highlights from around the world:

Lighting up the skies

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’s televised on NBC.

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 starting. Hundreds of thousands of people also were expected at Boston’s fireworks show and Boston Pops concert.

A first for the president

For President Donald Trump’s first Independence Day in office, he and first lady Melania Trump hosted a picnic for military families at the White House.

Rain threatened the event on the South Lawn, but cleared up as Trump stepped out to address the crowd from a balcony. Trump pledged his “unwavering support” and told the crowd that he will “always have your back.”

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.

Celebrating with classic cars

Decked out in red, white and blue, Californians waved flags and sang patriotic songs at Independence Day parades across the state.

Hundreds lined the streets under bright sunshine Tuesday for seaside Santa Monica’s annual celebration, which featured bands and classic cars.

California’s love affair with the automobile was also front-and-center at South Pasadena’s parade, which had the theme “Freedom on the Road. Celebrating Route 66.”

When the sun sets, the parties will continue with fireworks displays. Among the largest in the Los Angeles area was the annual fanfare at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

July Fourth overseas

A bit of American sports culture was being displayed in London’s Hyde Park, where several former major leaguers competed in a home run derby. Major League Baseball aims to build interest in the sport in Britain and Europe, despite the region’s longstanding preference for soccer.

Charlie Hill, the managing director of Major League Baseball for Europe, said the Independence Day exhibition is an attempt to “lay down roots” in Britain. He said it’s possible that some official games will be played in London during the 2019 season.

Meanwhile, Denmark hosted the Rebild Festival, considered one of the largest Fourth of July celebrations outside the United States. Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen – who recently tweeted that Trump “should tighten up, focus on the struggle for freedom and show respect for the presidency” in response to Trump’s own Twitter habit – told festivalgoers that “when you are friends, you have the right to criticize.”

Samuelsen added, however, that it is “impossible” to live without the United States.

Senators visit troops abroad

Rhode Island U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said it was emotional and inspiring to spend July Fourth with troops in Afghanistan.

Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, led a group of senators to Pakistan and Afghanistan for the holiday weekend. They visited a military base in South Waziristan and met with Pakistani leaders in Islamabad before traveling to Kabul, Afghanistan.

Whitehouse, a Democrat, told the Associated Press in a phone interview from Bagram airfield on Tuesday it was emotional because service members in Afghanistan are constantly in harm’s way and constantly making the nation proud.

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue are on the trip. They met with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani.

Welcoming new Americans

More than 15,000 new citizens will be sworn in during more than 65 Independence Day-themed naturalization ceremonies across the country. They are took place in locales ranging from courthouses to parks to aircraft-carriers-turned-museums.

How many hot dogs did he eat?

Record-setting hot dog eater Joey “Jaws” Chestnut held on to his title at the hot dog eating contest at Nathan’s Famous in New York on Tuesday, breaking the record he set last year. The San Jose, Calif., man chowed down 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.

Securing the celebrations

The New York Police Department planned to station 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 mingled among spectators, officers had portable radiation detection devices and bomb-sniffing dogs, and officers were stationed on rooftops to look out for any sign of trouble.

Boston police also plan to put trucks and other heavy equipment near the city’s celebration. Police in both cities said there had been no confirmed threats.

In a somber observance of the toll of terror, small American flags were placed by all the nearly 3,000 names on the National Sept. 11 Memorial in New York on Tuesday morning.

Daylong party in Philly

In Philadelphia, where the Founding Fathers approved the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, a daylong national birthday party took place.

At a celebration of freedom ceremony at Independence Hall on Tuesday morning, members of 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.

Fatal fireworks

Officials say an Indiana man has died in Kentucky after a fireworks accident.

The Gleaner reported that the Henderson County Coroner’s Office said 25-year-old Michael Osborne 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 reported as blunt force trauma. An autopsy was planned.