Americans really know how to throw a birthday party. Ever since John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that the signing of the Declaration of Independence "ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more," Americans have heeded the call.
This Sunday cities across the United States will stage spectacular celebrations in honor of their nation's Independence Day, offering a variety of destinations for a patriotic holiday. From fireworks spectaculars to world-class concerts, these are some of the best places to enjoy your Fourth of July.
John Adams' own hometown of Boston puts on a Fourth of July experience that never disappoints: The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular features the famous orchestra playing Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" on the banks of the Charles River — along with howitzer cannons, fireworks and church bells for added drama. Beantown's weekend's festivities will also include a performance by Toby Keith.
The East Coast is full of great places to enjoy the weekend. The fireworks will be bigger and better than ever this year in New York City, where 40,000 shells will be launched from six barges on the Hudson River during the 26-minute Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular. Music will be provided by the New York Pops Orchestra and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
The nation's capital, Washington, D.C., offers a parade down Constitution Avenue, followed by the annual Capitol Fourth concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building. This year it's hosted by Jimmy Smits and features musical performances from Reba McEntire, Gladys Knight and the National Symphony Orchestra. After the music, there'll be a pyrotechnic display over the National Mall.
They've got big plans in Philadelphia, the birthplace of American government: Attendees will attempt to break the world record for most high fives (more than 6,000) at a special event during the city's annual Independence Day parade. Judges from the Guinness Book of World Records will count as parade-goers touch the hand of Marine Colonel John Folsam of Nebraska, founder of the Wounded Warriors Project. Afterwards, the 10-day Wawa Welcome America celebration culminates with music from the Goo Goo Dolls and The Roots.
The people of Seattle have something extra to celebrate this year. In March organizers announced that the city's annual Family 4th at Lake Union would go on a one-year hiatus due to lack of corporate sponsorship. But two days after the announcement, the event was back on — thanks to $500,000 in donations from individuals, local businesses and large corporations in the area, including Microsoft and Starbucks. This spectacular event includes a full day's worth of family friendly activities in Gas Works Park, ending with an remarkable display of fireworks by Pyro Spectaculars.
The ultimate Midwestern destination this Fourth of July is St. Louis, which hosts a full weekend of activities. The Fair Saint Louis program features offers activities, air shows, music and fireworks on both Saturday and Sunday. Featured artists include John Legend, Jordan Pruitt and the B-52s.
Americans looking for an alternative to big-city celebrations might want to check out Addison, Texas. This suburb of Dallas boasts one of the biggest and best fireworks displays in the country. This year marks the 25th anniversary of its Kaboom Town! festivities, so it promises to be brighter than ever. After a day of activities, including historic aircraft flyovers, the fireworks can be seen from all across town.