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Independence Day

Americans to celebrate Fourth of July with parades, cookouts — and lots of fireworks

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Record-breaking travel and spectacular fireworks displays mark Independence Day celebrations, reflecting both patriotic spirit and underlying tensions.

This year’s Independence Day is set to break travel records, with airports bustling and highways packed as millions of Americans journey to their holiday destinations. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported nearly 3 million travelers passing through airports in a single day last week, a figure expected to be surpassed during the holiday period. Additionally, AAA projected that 60.6 million people will travel by car, attributing the travel surge partly to easing inflation.

Fireworks are also expected to reach unprecedented levels. The American Pyrotechnics Association anticipates 16,000 professional shows across the country, along with countless backyard displays. Julie Heckman of the association expressed that fireworks embody the essence of American pride and patriotism, symbolized by the “bombs bursting in air” and the “rockets’ red glare.”

While fireworks and barbecues are staples of the Fourth of July, many communities across the U.S. have unique traditions. In Down East, Maine, residents plan to enjoy lobster boat races. In Philadelphia, descendants of the Declaration of Independence signers will ring the Liberty Bell 13 times in honor of the original colonies. In California, the communities of Bolinas and Stinson Beach will hold their annual tug-of-war contest, where the losers end up in a lagoon. New York’s Coney Island will host its famous hot dog eating contest, drawing spectators from across the nation.

However, some areas face challenges. The city of Oroville in Northern California has canceled its annual fireworks due to the Thompson Fire, which has displaced an estimated 26,000 residents. Firefighters are working tirelessly in extreme heat to protect homes from the advancing flames.

The Fourth of July celebrations come at a time of significant political polarization in the U.S., with a contentious presidential race on the horizon. Nonetheless, the holiday offers a moment of unity. In Boston, tens of thousands are expected to attend the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular. Maestro Keith Lockhart remarked on the inspirational sight of people from diverse political backgrounds gathering together. He acknowledged the nation’s deep divisions but expressed hope that the celebrations could foster a sense of commonality, even if only for a day.

As Americans celebrate the Fourth of July with parades, cookouts, and fireworks, the spirit of unity and patriotism shines through, despite underlying political and economic challenges. The holiday serves as a reminder of the nation’s shared history and values, offering a brief respite from divisive issues and an opportunity to come together in celebration of America’s independence.

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