Wed, Jul 05, 2017 - Page 7 News List

US celebrates Independence Day

AP, NEW YORK

Americans were yesterday celebrating their country’s birthday with big-time fireworks, small-town parades and the quirky spectacle of competitive hot dog eating, marking a day of shared traditions in a nation that has grappled with divides this past year.

In New York, throngs were expected to watch the annual Macy’s fireworks blowout and the Nathan’s Famous frankfurter-chomping contest on Coney Island.

In Washington, US President Donald Trump was observing his first Independence Day in office by hosting a White House picnic for military families, followed by a fireworks viewing event for military families and staffers.

In Boston, one of 14 original copies of the Declaration of Independence was to be displayed at a museum and hundreds of thousands of people were expected at the city’s fireworks show.

DIVIDES

Organizers of Chicago’s Independence Day celebration were expecting such large crowds that the city’s Navy Pier was opened at 10am, nearly 12 hours before fireworks were scheduled to begin.

Meanwhile, more than 15,000 new citizens were to be sworn in during more than 65 Independence Day-themed naturalization ceremonies across the US.

For all the pomp and celebration, July 4 arrives with Americans deeply split over the nation’s direction, after last year’s presidential election and political clashes over immigration, healthcare and other issues in the early months of Trump’s Republican administration.

And in an era of concerns about security, the Independence Day celebrations are mixed with precautions.

The New York Police Department planned to station 100 vehicles to block intersections and 20 sand-filled sanitation trucks to fortify viewing areas for the Macy’s fireworks show.

ARMED

Heavily armed counterterrorism units were to mingle among spectators, officers were to have portable radiation detection devices and bomb-sniffing dogs and officers would be stationed on rooftops to look out for any sign of trouble.

Boston police also planned to put trucks and other heavy equipment near the celebration there.

Police in both cities said there were no confirmed threats.

In a somber observance of the toll of terror, small US flags are to be placed by all the nearly 3,000 names on the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York.

Meanwhile, residents of Laconia, New Hampshire, might not have had a Fourth of July parade if a resident had not stepped in to organize it after learning it was facing cancelation for lack of interest.

About 25 organizations have since signed up to provide floats or marchers.

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