The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

July 5, 2013

From solemn to spectacular, July 4th celebrated

(Continued)

The commemorative starbursts were followed by a raucous 20-minute display choreographed to patriotic pop songs, which drew cheering, grins and shouts of "America!"

Also, 19 candles burned beneath red, white and blue bunting, at Bistro St. Michael on Whiskey Row in the old West town — one for each firefighter.

In California, more than two dozen people were injured when a wood platform holding live fireworks tipped over, sending the pyrotechnics into a crowd in Simi Valley, northwest of Los Angeles. Officials said 20 people were taken to hospitals with minor to moderate injuries, and eight more were treated at the park. A bomb squad was at the park to deactivate the remainder of the fireworks.

In Washington, thousands gathered on the National Mall to ring in the Fourth of July with fireworks and music. Neil Diamond sang "Sweet Caroline" in tribute to victims and survivors of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing. The song is a Fenway Park tradition, and Diamond performed it there in the aftermath of the attack.

Boston hosted its first large gathering since the marathon bombing that killed three and injured hundreds. While attendance for the city's celebration appeared to be down early, it increased as the start of the festivities approached. Crowds on the Charles River Esplanade seemed smaller than in recent years, while a robust law enforcement presence greeted revelers gathering for a performance by the Boston Pops and a fireworks display.

Among those at Boston's festivities was Carlos Arredondo, the cowboy hat-wearing marathon attendee who became part of one of the indelible images of the bombings' aftermath in a photo showing him helping rush a badly wounded man from the scene in a wheelchair, his legs torn to pieces.

Arredondo said the July 4 celebration — an event authorities believe the bombing suspects initially planned to target — was an important milestone in the healing process, not just for him but also those who were stopping to tell him their own stories from that day.

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