The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

July 5, 2013

July 4th saluted with fireworks, parades, parties

NEW YORK (AP) — Extravagant displays of Fourth of July fireworks lit up the skies around the nation, including 19 single bursts in Arizona to remember the firefighters killed in a wildfire, the Statue of Liberty reopened eight months after it was shuttered by Superstorm Sandy, and President Obama urged citizens to live up to the words of the Declaration of Independence.

Four barges carrying 40,000 shells on the Hudson River on Thursday night unleashed a barrage of brilliant reds, whites and blues — some in shapes and smiley faces — as spectators marveled at the classic New York over-the-top fireworks display, snapping videos and pictures on their cellphones.

"They're awesome," said a beaming 10-year-old Johnny Deluca, of Melbourne, Fla., while watching the 25-minute show titled "It Begins with a Spark" in Manhattan with his parents, Joe and Marie.

"He wanted to see the largest fireworks show in the world so we planned our vacation specifically to see the show in Manhattan," added Marie Deluca.

In Arizona, a fire chief read the names of the 19 firefighters killed last weekend battling a wildfire while 19 single fireworks burst overhead.

"Less than 100 hours ago, the city of Prescott, the state of Arizona and the nation lost 19 of the best, the bravest firefighters ever dispatched into the forest," fire department division chief Don Devendorf said.

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

In California, at least 14 people were injured by malfunctioning fireworks at a large community park in Simi Valley. Officials say more than a dozen people were taken to area hospitals with minor to moderate injuries. No other details were immediately available.

Earlier Thursday, hundreds lined up to be among the first to board boats destined for Lady Liberty, including New Yorker Heather Leykam and her family.

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