Even as communities across the country face cutbacks, these six cities are still sparking festive Fourth of July parties to celebrate the anniversary of our nation’s independence.

New York Fireworks(© Spencer Platt, Getty Images)

Macy’s display ingnites New York on July 4.

What would the 4th of July be without fireworks? Those pacifist pyrotechnics symbolize the revolution that was America’s path to being. Every Fourth of July, it’s a style of celebration that we have in common; it marks what we are in common, despite our distinctions. The explosive expression of our extrovert American holiday lets everybody ooh and aah. The rockets’ red glare is an equal opportunity delight.

Of the thousands of United States cities, every place puts its own spin on July Fourth, be it a lake view setting or a baseball field. Here’s a cross-country survey of America’s celebrations this Sunday.

Brooklyn Bridge(© Ed Betz, AP Photo)

Brooklyn Bridge celebrates the day with a bang.

New York

The Big Apple pretty much sets the bar for Fourth of July celebrations thanks to Macy’s fireworks display. Until last year, it was held at a site near the East River. Last year Macy’s made the switch to the Hudson River, in honor of the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s third journey in September 1609. For the 2009 showcase, Macy’s used 22 tons of pyrotechnics, said to be the most ever in one show. This year more than 40,000 devices will be employed in the half-hour spectacle.

NYC Tourist, a tourism Web site focusing on all things Gotham, says the best views will be from the West Side of Manhattan, on 11th and 12th Avenues south of 59th Street. But there’s no admission price for tilting your head: NYC Tourist also notes that due to the size of the Macy’s spectacle, the fireworks can be seen from just about anywhere with an unobstructed view of the sky over the Hudson. Locations across midtown should be ideal, from Central Park to any one of the open spaces along the West Side. If you can get on a West Side rooftop anywhere between 40th Street and the mid-70s, you’ll be right under the shower of sparklers.

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Fireworks in Philly(© George Widman, AP Photo)

The fireworks in Philly draw crowds to the Parkway.


For reasons of historical resonance, if not for the sheer volume of fireworks, Philadelphia is a major player in the nation’s Fourth of July celebration. As the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence, the first Congress and the American flag, Philly has well-earned bragging rights.

The city celebrates with a fireworks display at the celebrated Philadelphia Museum of Art, on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The famous site — where actor Sylvester Stallone raised his arms in training triumph in “Rocky” — will mark the 4th with a pre-spectacle musical concert featuring the Goo Goo Dolls.

If you’d rather not deal with the crowds near the museum, you’ve other options. The fireworks should be visible along the mile-long Parkway, as well as near the Lemon Hill Mansion, Martin Luther King Drive and Boathouse Row (north of the museum). Another fireworks event is planned for Saturday, July 3 at Penn’s Landing, the Delaware River site near where William Penn, the city’s founder, docked in 1682. The show should be visible all along the Landing and from sites along the Camden Waterfront. The Welcome America Web site offers more options for a Philly 4th.

Coors Field sparkles(© Brian Bahr, Getty Images)

Coors Field sparkles following Rockies games July 2 & 3.


In this Rocky Mountain city, fireworks explode 5,280 feet above sea level. The festivities kick off on Saturday, July 3, with a concert by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra at Denver’s Civic Center Park. That’s the same day that the city’s Cherry Creek district starts the three-day Cherry Creek Arts Festival, highlighting the work of 230 exhibitors in a variety of visual, performing and culinary arts from around the United States.

For classicists of the July Fourth experience, the big show is set for Sunday at Four Mile Historic Park, a 12-acre site likely to be as much a carnival midway as the place for celebrating American independence; games, horse rides and other attractions are planned, as well as readings of the Declaration of Independence.

A number of other celebrations take place around the Denver metro area and in nearby Arvada, Boulder and as well as Front Range locations. Check out the city’s official Web site for details.

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Chicago Fireworks(© Kim Karpeles, ZUMA Press)

Chicago sizzles with three fireworks displays on the Fourth.


The city of broad shoulders has its own flair on the Fourth of July. Sights and sounds are preceded by a display of taste. Taste of Chicago (June 25-July 4), long considered to be the world’s largest gustatory event, usually kicks off just before Independence Day in the city’s verdant, expansive Grant Park.

Chicago previously celebrated with fireworks on July 3. However, this year’s show will be a nod to the proven logistical challenges of gathering on Grant Park, where more than 200,000 people flocked in November 2008 to celebrate President Obama’s election. The Grant Park fireworks display is being replaced by three smaller, city-organized lakefront fireworks shows, each set for July Fourth. There’ll be a central location at Navy Pier, the major tourist attraction located east of downtown along Lake Michigan. Other fireworks displays will be on the city’s North Side (best seen between Montrose and Foster avenues) and South Side (best from Promontory Point to 63rd Street), the Chicago Tribune reported. Anywhere from Navy Pier (3,300 feet long) to vantage points on North and South Lakeshore Drive should be prime viewing territory.

City officials reportedly reasoned that dispersing the fireworks shows helps Chicagoans savor the spectacle without the hassle of traveling to the park. Expect the city to celebrate a little harder this year following the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory. 

Seattle's July 4 show(© Mel Curtis, Getty Images)

Seattle’s Lake Union reflects its fireworks show.


The city heralded for its rain has often announced its July Fourth fireworks celebrations with a weather-related asterisk. (Seattle broadcaster KOMO-TV reported in 2008 that, over the course of 110 years of previous Seattle weather, it’s rained 32 times on the Fourth of July — including three of the five years directly preceding 2008.) Weather permitting, celebrations of the holiday this year should be especially spirited. The city’s traditional Family Fourth at Lake Union, almost a victim of poor corporate funding by way of the perilous economy, was rescued in April when a wildfire grassroots fundraising campaign (with big-check assists by Microsoft and Starbucks) resulted in the money needed to let the show go on.

The event at Lake Union is scheduled for sunset and should be visible around the lake; anywhere along Westlake Avenue North or Fairview Avenue North offer good views. And with a number of restaurants, bars and stores in the area, there’s potential’s to make a day and a night of celebrating the Fourth.

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Find other summer activities on MSN Local Edition:

Walkable Bridges

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City Street Art


Hollywood Bowl show(© Reed Saxon, AP Photo)

L.A. has many celebrations including one at the Hollywood Bowl.

Los Angeles

You might think that in a city that sparkles year round, a traditional July Fourth celebration would be hard to come by. Think again: L.A. rises to the occasion at many of the venues that have helped make it a world-class city.

The Hollywood Bowl plays host to the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra with special guest Vince Gill, the U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West and the Bowl’s fabled fireworks presentation in this family friendly setting. Southern California’s other big bowl, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, will be the setting for the Americafest celebration, marking the 84th year that the Rose Bowl has hailed the Glorious Fourth. A family fun festival, food booths and live musical performances set the stage for the fireworks later in the evening. If you can’t get into these events — tickets have almost certainly vanished by now — relax. You can’t confine fireworks to a soundstage; the Hollywood Bowl extravaganza should be visible from Runyan Canyon Park and, high above, in the Hollywood Hills.

Elsewhere in the Southland, a fireworks show is planned for Marina del Rey (visible from Marina Beach), with the ritual of jockeying for lawn-chair position at Burton Chace Park and Fisherman’s Village. There’s potential friendly competition in Long Beach, at the Queen Mary Independence Day celebration: a barbecue with styles from the Carolinas, Texas, Kansas City and St. Louis featuring baked beans, corn-on-the-cob, funnel cakes, as well as build-your-own strawberry shortcake. Live music and other entertainment for children will be available. It all ends with the snap and crackle of fireworks. Like July Fourth is supposed to.