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Fireworks, franks and festivities
Americans celebrate country's 240th birthday
W 070416 FIRECRACKER FEST 07
After getting settled with his family into a prime spot for watching fireworks, Logan Tyson, 6, of Cobbtown spreads his wings and tests the turf with his bare feet during Statesboro's annual Firecracker Fest at Mill Creek Regional Park on Monday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

From fireworks soaring above the Washington Monument to hot dogs being downed in New York City's famed frank-eating contest, Americans aren't shy about celebrating their nation's birthday. Many places rolled out long-established Independence Day traditions on Monday - even if some of those traditions aren't as long-established as they sound. Some communities tried new things to mark the holiday, even as others pared back. Following are some Fourth of July highlights from around the country.

In the nation's birthplace, a parade and a parkway party

In Philadelphia - where the Founding Fathers approved the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 - the national birthday party ran all day.

It kicked off at 10 a.m. with a reading of the document and an event honoring everyday heroes, with celebrity guest Leslie Odom Jr., a Philadelphia native who plays Aaron Burr in the Broadway musical "Hamilton." Then came the holiday parade, which included Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell.

Next up was a five-hour party with free entertainment on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The celebration continued with a five-hour concert with performers including Odom and singer-songwriter Leon Bridges. Fireworks closed out the day.

A final White House Fourth for the president

It was the last Fourth of July at the White House for President Barack Obama and his family, and they had some people over: military families and two of the president's favorite performers, singer-songwriter Janelle Monae and rapper Kendrick Lamar.

The Democratic president and his wife, Michelle, invite military families each year for a barbecue, concert and view of the fireworks on the National Mall.

This year, they also heard Lamar - Obama said his favorite song of 2015 was the rapper's "How Much a Dollar Cost" - and Monae, who was a guest at a White House state dinner in May.

New York: Franks and fireworks

American as apple pie? Fuhgeddaboudit. The frankfurter rules the Fourth in New York City, where the annual Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest marked its centennial this year - well, not really. Nathan's itself dates to 1916, but showmen behind the hot dog competition have acknowledged they made up a long-told story about the contest beginning that year, too. It actually started in the 1970s.

Joey "Jaws" Chestnut beat his own world record Monday when he polished off 70 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. He also regained his title after losing the Mustard Yellow International Belt to Matt "The Megatoad" Stonie in 2015.

"Last year was rough," Chestnut told the crowd. "This year was the best ever."

Later Monday, Macy's promised its biggest Fourth of July fireworks display since the millennium show of 2000. The show over the East River featured more than 56,000 pyrotechnic shells, 22 hues and the New York debut of "pyro-writing" in the sky, all synchronized to patriotic tunes performed by the United States Air Force Band. The fireworks were televised on NBC, along with performances by country singer Kenny Chesney, pop band 5 Seconds of Summer, pop singer Meghan Trainor and others.

Boston's blowout

Hundreds of thousands of people were expected to line the banks of Boston's Charles River to watch the fireworks there, with millions more across the country watching live on CBS.

The celebration featured pop stars Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato, country group Little Big Town and, as always, the Boston Pops Orchestra, which drove home the climactic fireworks finale to Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture."

One Connecticut city marks new celebration; another cancels its own

New Haven's newly renovated Q Bridge was illuminated in red, white and blue at night, becoming Connecticut's first bridge to feature commemorative lighting.

The lights were capable of projecting 6 miles in a clear night sky over what's formally called the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge. It's among the most heavily traveled segments of the Northeast Corridor between New York and Boston.

Meanwhile, the state capital of Hartford cancelled its July Fourth festival and fireworks show, which is billed as Connecticut's largest Independence Day celebration, though usually held a week after the holiday. The mayors of Hartford and neighboring East Hartford said they couldn't justify the roughly $100,000 expense while facing painful spending cuts.

July Fourth, California-style

There was a something-for-everyone approach to fireworks in Los Angeles, where displays were planned at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Hollywood Bowl, Grand Park near City Hall and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, among other places around the massive metro area. San Francisco held a large fireworks display over the San Francisco Bay.

In Oklahoma, a party to commemorate the nation's birthday

About 80,000 people were expected to gather Monday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to celebrate the nation's birthday and the reopening of the River West Festival Park along the Arkansas River. Revelers at 2016 Folds of Honor FreedomFest enjoyed food trucks, inflatable rides, games and live music as fireworks choreographed to patriotic music fired off in the background.

 

 

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