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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

11 Fantastic Fireworks Celebrations

Observe this Independence Day with one of these epic displays

By Olivia Putnal

In the “land of the free,” nothing says Independence Day like an exciting fireworks display—a tradition since 1777, the first time our nation celebrated the Fourth of July. Just in time for this year’s festivities, WD has rounded up the most spectacularly patriotic events across the country for you and your family to enjoy—all guaranteeing an explosive holiday weekend.

A Capitol Fourth in Washington, DC

Beginning at dusk on July 4, the West Lawn of the Capitol building will be open to the public so citizens can celebrate our nation’s freedom with the first family. Performances by the National Symphony Orchestra and the Choral Arts Society of Washington are always part of the festivities, as well as celebrity appearances—this year’s host is Jimmy Smits and musical performers include Barry Manilow, Aretha Franklin and Natasha Bedingfield. Photo courtesy of Capitol Concerts

Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular in Boston

One of the most anticipated shows in the country, this event will be hosted by Craig Ferguson and includes performances by Neil Diamond and, of course, the world-renowned Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra. At this year’s 36th annual celebration, the 104th Fighter Wing will fly over the area as the Boston Pops perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks will display a choreographed show with over 20,000 pounds of fireworks, including large shells that climb up to 1,500 feet in the air. Photo courtesy of Rich Moffitt via

Fireworks Display at Mount Rushmore in Keystone, SD

On July 3, the famous monument of our greatest presidents will be the scenic setting for this fireworks show. Only at Mount Rushmore’s Independence Day celebration will you travel down the Avenue of Flags from the Concession Building to the Presidential trail—a half-mile path that will put you in one of the prime viewing spots for all of the fireworks action, including the Grandview Terrace or the memorial’s amphitheater. Photo courtesy of

Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks in New York City

America’s favorite department store will host the Big Apple’s most spectacular display for the 33rd time with over 120,000 fireworks from around the world. In the past, the celebration has been over the East River, but this year, the action will take place over the Hudson River, where six barges, positioned between West 23rd and 50th Streets, will be setting off the pyrotechnics. Prior to the show, there will be a FDNY Fireboat water show and an Air National Guard jet flyover. Photo courtesy of C et C via

A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky in Orlando, FL

The festivities at Walt Disney World begin on July 3 with a fireworks display followed by the SpectroMagic parade, a standard at the theme park. On July 4, the celebrations kick off at 10 a.m. with a parade, and then, come nighttime, the sky over the Magic Kingdom will radiate for miles, allowing you to enjoy this truly magical commemoration alongside Mickey Mouse and other beloved Disney characters. Photo courtesy of Johnny9s via

LIVE on the Levee in St. Louis

Soaring above the Mississippi River on July 4 will be St. Louis’ fireworks display, which creates a gorgeous backdrop for the Gateway Arch. For this year’s celebration, the Counting Crows and Train will rock the main stage, while Nat and Alex Wolff perform on the side stage and kid-friendly bands perform on the Buster Brown Kids Stage. Photo courtesy of

Lights on the Lake at Lake Tahoe

Rated one of the top five shows in the nation, Lights on the Lake is best viewed, well, on the lake, aboard boats like the Tahoe Queen and M.S. Dixie. Depending on where you are situated—Lake Tahoe is on the border of Nevada and California—Regan and El Dorado Beaches are also great viewing points for the Pyro Spectaculars Inc. fireworks show, which features an array of patterns, designs, lights and shapes. Photo courtesy of

Big Bay Boom in San Diego

Port San Diego’s 9th annual event—a.k.a. The Big Kahuna of fireworks displays—is best seen from a boat or on land around Shelter Island, Harbor Island, the North Embarcadero area and Seaport Village. The San Diego Symphony Pops perform their “A Star-Spangled Pops” show, while four barges dispersed throughout the San Diego Bay release 8,000 fireworks into the sky. Photo courtesy of Wendyness via

July 4th Fireworks Spectacular in Los Angeles

The Hollywood Bowl hosted its first fireworks celebration in 1969 and has since become one of the best venues for firework shows in the country. The combination of perfectly timed lights and corresponding sounds—this year, John Fogerty and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra will be performing—create a night you won’t soon forget. Photo courtesy of Scarlet Lark via

Go 4th on the River in New Orleans

For 19 years now, the Southern coastal city of New Orleans has been the home to this much-anticipated night. At 9 p.m., the Dueling Barges Extravaganza will begin, with fireworks shooting from two barges strategically placed on the Mississippi River. Earlier in the day, take in the sights and sounds of the bayou at various events along the waterway. Photo courtesy of Max Sparber via

Tempe 4th in Phoenix

From the Mill Avenue bridge, hundreds of fireworks, designed by ProTix Fireworks, will be launched into the night sky. Before and after the show, a variety of bands will hit the stage, performing everything from high-energy blues and Top 40s to indie pop and Arizona rock. And, before finding your fireworks viewing spot on the lawn, you can get your fill of hamburgers, hot dogs, BBQ and more. Photo courtesy of