The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

July 4, 2014

July Fourth celebrations include fireworks, food

— The United States marks 238 years as an independent nation as it celebrates the Fourth of July with fireworks, food and music. Here are some highlights:

HISTORY

The Fourth of July commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by the Second Continental Congress of the 13 colonies, meeting in Philadelphia. The tradition of celebrating July Fourth with fireworks, parades and speeches spread from Philadelphia to other cities and towns across the new nation. Congress established Independence Day as a holiday in 1870.

FIRE IN THE SKY

The Macy's Fourth of July fireworks show in New York City is the nation's largest. Macy's says more than 1,600 shells will be launched per minute during the 25-minute display over the East River. Other major fireworks shows include those in Chicago on Lake Michigan and in San Francisco over the San Francisco Bay.

WEATHER WORRIES

The first hurricane of the season, Arthur, forced many East Coast cities to switch the dates of their Fourth of July celebrations. Boston officials moved the annual Boston Pops July 4 concert and fireworks from Friday to Thursday. Then they cut short the concerts so the fireworks could begin. Shortly after the dazzling display thundered to a close, a drenching rain began falling. Meanwhile, several cities in Maine, New Hampshire and New Jersey moved their fireworks show to either Saturday or Sunday. Augusta, Maine moved its fireworks to Aug. 2.

When it crossed North Carolina's Outer Banks late Thursday, Arthur narrowly missed becoming the first hurricane to make landfall on July Fourth, according to National Hurricane Center research that dates to the 1850s.

PARADES

Fourth of July parades are planned around the country. One of the largest, Washington's National Independence Day Parade, kicks off on Constitution Avenue and features marching bands, floats and giant balloons.

INSPIRING MUSIC

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