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A Day for Passing Parades, a Night for Splash and Sparkle

From N.Y.'s Macy's bash to a Yakima, Wash., war memorial, Americans mark the Fourth.

July 05, 2006|From the Associated Press

NEW YORK — In towns and cities across America on Tuesday, families sat down to picnics, watched parades and remembered the reasons for the holiday.

In Frostburg, Md., the marchers filling Main Street were turned out in crisp military uniforms.

Floyd Wigfield, an 87-year-old veteran of the 1944 D-Day invasion, was among the estimated 1,200 veterans lined up for a half-mile during the town's Fourth of July parade.

"They're celebrating all the veterans for years and years," said Wigfield, of Cumberland, Md., who wore his green wool Army uniform despite the soaring heat.

In many regions, high temperatures put a damper on the celebration.

About 100 people were treated for heat exhaustion in Washington, D.C., after an Independence Day parade in humid, 90-degree weather near the National Mall. Most of the patients were marchers, said Alan Etter, a spokesman for the District of Columbia fire and EMS Department.

One was hospitalized.

Thunderstorms racing through the Washington area Tuesday evening forced the mall to be briefly evacuated, hours before the annual concert and fireworks show.

In New York, the 30th Annual Macy's Fourth of July fireworks show lit up the city's night sky Tuesday, marking the country's Independence Day in dazzling fashion.

Spectators crowded highways, rooftops, balconies and parks along the East River to watch the 30-minute extravaganza, billed as the largest fireworks display in the country.

More than 120,000 bursts of color, light and pyrotechnics filled the darkness as the New York Pops entertained the crowd with a program of patriotic standards and original music charting America's evolution.

There were five tugboat-powered fireworks barges, each about 350 to 500 feet long: three along the East River, one at the South Street Seaport and one between Ellis Island and Liberty Island in New York Harbor.

The colorful pyrotechnic spectacular consisted of 36,000 shells -- more than 1,000 shells bursting a minute, according to Macy's.

The shells were timed to fire to the beat of the music.

In Boston, tens of thousands of people gathered for a free concert by Aerosmith. Earlier Tuesday, the city began its celebration with a reading of the Declaration of Independence from a balcony at the Old State House, where townspeople first heard it more than two centuries ago.

Because of the hot, dry weather in Mandan, N.D., firetrucks were held out of the parade. "We don't want to get hung up in a parade and can't get out. It's just too risky," said Mandan Rural Fire Chief Lynn Gustin.

There also was quiet reflection during the Independence Day holiday. In Yakima, Wash., more than 200 people prayed quietly at the dedication late Monday of a war memorial honoring six soldiers and Marines with ties to the area who have died in Iraq.

"I hope when people see it, it brings a reality to them," said Nancy Sides, stepmother of Marine Lance Cpl. Dustin L. Sides, one of the six.

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With Flying Colors

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