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Advice & More June 2013

Best 4th of July Celebrations Will be Traditional Music and Fireworks Extravaganzas

By Janice Doyle

The tradition of fireworks bursting in the sky over water while an orchestra plays Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” is 40 years old this year.

The Fourth of July – Independence Day – means parades, barbecues, picnics, concerts, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies. It also means music and fireworks.

The tradition of fireworks bursting in the sky over water while an orchestra plays Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” is 40 years old this year. That was the year Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler was urged to revive the diminishing Esplanade concert in Boston by playing a few extra pieces, sort of a “keep people interested” kind of thing.

Arthur Fiedler added cannons, fireworks and church bells to the concert so that, in his own words, “All Hell could break loose.” The traditional 4th of July concert has never been the same! In many cities, patriots young and old enjoy an evening of traditional patriotic music with a finale of sight and sound that marks America like no other event.

This year, pick your spot to celebrate with live or radio music – and fireworks!

  • Boston hosts over 500,000 visitors, and many of them camp out overnight for a spot to watch the evening Boston Pops Orchestra concert with fireworks on the Charles River Esplanade, while another seven million tune in on CBS to view the event live.
  • The nation’s capital, Washington D.C., offers an all-day patriotic event starting with a parade down Constitution Avenue with more than 300 floats, bands, military units and lots of flag waving The evening features a live PBS concert on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol building featuring the National Symphony Orchestra and a huge fireworks display on the Mall. (PBS airs the program nationwide.)
  • In New York City, the Macy’s Fireworks Spectacular reigns over the East River and brings out about 2 million spectators every year. In addition to the fireworks, fireboats in the river shoot patriotic streams of fire high into the air as music is broadcast by local radio stations.
  • In the Midwest, there’s nowhere to be but in St. Louis on the Mississippi riverfront near the Gateway Arch for the 4th of July music and fireworks.
  • New Orleans hosts Go 4th on the River which is a Mardi Gras-style party all day on the riverfront. The renowned New Orleans Concert Band plays at 7:30 followed by the Dueling Barges fireworks display.
  • Freedom Over Texas is Houston’s party to prove that on the 4th of July “everything is bigger in Texas.” The fireworks come at the end of an all-day celebration at Eleanor Tinsley Park.
  • In Idaho Falls, Idaho’s Freedom Celebration is known as the largest fireworks display west of the Mississippi River. It’s a huge pyrotechnic show with all the patriotic music you love to experience following a day of the Snake River area’s Liberty Festival on the Falls.
  • In Lake Tahoe the fireworks are shot from a barge on the lake for widespread viewing. Music is broadcast from radio stations and viewers gather on the shores, on docks, or from paddleboats on the lake to experience the extravaganza of light and sound.
  • La Jolla Cove, California (San Diego area), features fireworks over the Pacific Ocean. Best seats in the harbor are on the flight deck of the USS Midway. You can buy tickets to the Wild Wild West 4th of July Fandango party on board which begins at 6 p.m. and ends with fireworks. The San Diego waterfront area offers lots of other possible places to experience the show.
  • In Cocoa, Florida, just one hour from Disney World, the Brevard Symphony Orchestra gives a free concert at Cocoa Riverfront Park which concludes with pyrotechnics over the Indian River.

Whichever venue you choose, take lawn chairs or blankets for seating. Check ahead of time, but most locations do not allow alcohol or coolers in the main viewing areas.

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