The land of the free looked to the water for a good part of its Fourth of July celebration Friday, as the cannons of Old Ironsides boomed in Boston Harbor and paddle wheelers strained toward the finish line in St. Louis.
Helen, Ga., staged its parade on the Chattahoochee River, red, white and blue sailboats. Paddle boats plied the Cumberland River in Nashville, and competitors in the Pacific Cup yacht race took off toward Hawaii from San Francisco.
In Boston, the Constitution took its annual lap around the harbor and fired a salute that was answered by pealing bells in the tower of Old North Church.
Among the 420 passengers and crew aboard the 188-year-old Constitution, nicknamed Old Ironsides, were Joe and Marcie Haggerty, who had flown in from Burbank earlier in the week.
"I'm 60 years old and it's the greatest thing in my life," Marcie Haggerty said. "I just feel so American. Don't you?"
More than 3 million people were expected to attend the VP Fair, a three-day bash along the banks of the Mississippi River. The fair opened Friday with the finish of a 1,039-mile race between the Mississippi Queen and the Delta Queen that began last month in New Orleans.
Strike Cancels Concert
In Philadelphia, a concert featuring the city's Pops orchestra, the Stylistics and Phyllis Nelson was canceled because, Mayor W. Wilson Goode said, the musicians had been threatened by striking municipal workers.
"But we will have fireworks," Goode said. "July Fourth in Philadelphia would not be the same without fireworks."
Striking city employees heckled the mayor as he spoke at Independence Hall.
"This is a very, very happy day, and one of those basic rights we celebrate is freedom of expression," Goode said after he was booed by pickets at the building where the Declaration of Independence was adopted 210 years ago.
"The union has every right to express themselves, but they have no right to interfere any way with anyone else. That's the beauty of democracy," he said.
Negotiations to end the strike are to resume Monday. Meanwhile, Philadelphians were asked to bring their own garbage bags to the various celebrations.
Washington, meanwhile, was just as James G. Watt once wished it would be--enjoying a sedate, family-style holiday with no Beach Boys concert to attract a massive crowd. (Watt, as secretary of the Interior in 1983, banned an outdoor Beach Boys performance at Independence Mall, but Nancy Reagan invited them back in 1984 and 1985.) This year, there were several small concerts, but no big events.
Gatlinburg, Tenn., makes a point of having the earliest Fourth of July parade in the nation--at one minute after midnight. A Navy band and a float bearing a replica of the Statue of Liberty were parts of the show this year.
It was "Star Trek Day" in Chattanooga. Members of cast of the former TV series--James (Scotty) Doohan, Nichelle (Uhura) Nichols and George (Sulu) Takei--were guests of honor.
About 1,000 people dressed in red, white, or blue were recruited to form a "living flag" on the steps of the Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul. "Our flag also is going to sing some patriotic songs," organizer Ron Sonntag said.
In Windham, Conn., an estimated 1,500 residents turned out and tuned in the town's "boom box parade." Because organizers could not line up a live band, they asked townspeople to bring portable radios and tune in a local station that was broadcasting parade music.
The grand marshal of Atlanta's massive Independence Day parade was Judge Joseph Wapner, the authoritarian jurist who has become a cult figure with his "People's Court" television show.
"I think we have to cherish our liberty," Wapner said. "We have to continue to work for it, to fight for it. We have to recognize that there are still people who are not here with us--the captives in Lebanon. We have to continue to fight for freedom. It's very, very precious."
This Fourth of July was especially meaningful for Dorothy Franks, 62, of Boise, Ida., the great-great-granddaughter of Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, the Statue of Liberty sculptor. She planned to watch the New York festivities on television.
Bartholdi used his mother--Franks' great-great-great-grandmother--as the model for the statue's face. A younger woman, who later became Bartholdi's wife, modeled for the statue's body.
"Remarkably, I can see family members when I look at the face of the statue," Franks said.