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The Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular is an annual television broadcast of the Independence Day fireworks show in New York City.
The event has been broadcast annually either on WPIX-TV, syndication or NBC since 1977, with the exception of 1986 when the pyrotechnics were held as part of the weekend-long rededication of the Statue of Liberty. Those fireworks were broadcast on ABC as part of the coverage.
The roots of the annual Macy’s fireworks show can be traced back to the Bicentennial of the United States of America, the 200th anniversary of the adaptation of the Declaration of Independence in 1976 as New York City staged a fireworks show produced by Walt Disney Productions as part of that city’s celebrations on July 4th of that year.
Since 1977, the Macy’s Department Store, whose home base and main store are based in Manhattan have hosted an annual pyrotechnic celebration of America’s birthday with a half-hour, 40,000 shell show from barges on either the East River or the Hudson River. The show is set to a musical soundtrack synchronized to the pyrotechnics. From 1977 until 1999 (except for 1986), Tribune Broadcasting-owned WPIX-TV broadcast the program, with the program syndicated from about 1992 until 1999. As a part of a new contract between NBC and Macy’s for the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade starting in 2000, NBC acquired national telecast rights, broadcasting them live in the Eastern and Central time zones.
A Brief History of Fireworks
Provided by Fireworks in America
“The day will be most memorable in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, bonfires and illuminations [fireworks] from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
So wrote John Adams on July 3, 1776 to his wife after the Continental Congress had decided to proclaim the American colonies independent of England. Fireworks were associated with Independence Day celebrations even before the signing of the Declaration.
The discovery of gunpowder and the invention of the first fireworks (bamboo cases or rolled paper tubes filled with explosives) are traditionally credited to the Chinese, although India is also a likely source.
The Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular is an annual television broadcast of the Independence Day fireworks show in New York City
The sound of these first firecrackers, which appeared about 1,000 years ago, was so loud that the Chinese were soon convinced that the noise would scare away evil spirits. Then almost any event – be it birth, death, wedding, coronation or New Year celebration – became a fit occasion for the noisemakers.
Fireworks made their way to Europe sometime in the 13th century, probably carried back from the East by Crusaders. Their popularity grew, and by the 15th century they were widely used for religious festivals and public entertainment. The Italians were the first Europeans to manufacture fireworks and were the second undisputed European masters of fireworks-making through the end of the 17th century. Their wares were used all over Europe to mark great occasions.
The first recorded display in England celebrated the wedding of Henry VII in 1487. William Shakespeare mentions them several times in his plays, and Elizabeth I enjoyed them so much she appointed a “Fire Master of England”.
James II was so delighted with his coronation display that he knighted his fire-master and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V also valued fireworks – his army contained “fire workers” whose sole function was to stage victory displays.
Fireworks displays became more and more extravagant as the years passed, although events were not always the spectacles they were designed to be. To celebrate the end of the War of the Austrian Succession in 1742, George II ordered an elaborate display and brought in the Italian experts. The preparations took six months, and the result was a huge machine with almost 11,000 rockets and pinwheels surrounding the structure. Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, which included the firing of one hundred brass cannons, was commissioned especially for the occasion. Just as the event was getting underway, an argument broke out between the English and Italian fireworkers, and the North Pavilion of the machine exploded as a result. The show went on, but proved to be a great disappointment. Some called it “a grand whim for posterity to laugh at.”
The earliest settlers brought their love of fireworks to this country. Firings of black powder were used to celebrate holidays and to impress the natives. This fascination with the noise and color of fireworks did not weaken with the passage of time. Pranksters in the colony of Rhode Island caused enough problems that in 1731 a ban was established on the mischievous use of fireworks.
By the time of the American Revolution, fireworks had long played a part in celebrating important events. It was natural, then, that not only John Adams but also many of his countrymen should think of fireworks when independence was declared. The very first celebration of Independence Day was in 1777, six years before Americans knew whether the new nation would even survive the war, and fireworks were a part of the revels. In 1789, George Washington’s inauguration was accompanied by a beautiful display.
Throughout the following years, as the benefits of this new and booming nation came within the grasp of large numbers of citizens, Americans’ growing self-confidence infused them with the spirit of celebration. With this turn, fireworks became more popular than ever. Starting even in the late 18th century, politicians used displays to attract crowds to their speeches.
In 1892, a 400-year celebration of Columbus landing on our shores lit up the Brooklyn Bridge. Over one million people witnessed the event which was considered the greatest show ever seen in the Western Hemisphere.
Among the very recent magnificent displays, of course, have been the 1976 Bicentennial in the Nation’s Capital, the 1983 Brooklyn Bridge Centennial, the Macy’s extravaganzas, the inaugurations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton, annual Independence Day celebrations and many more.
But all stand in shadow of the 1986 celebration of the Fourth of July and the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. The skies lit up over New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty on July 4, 1986, with a dazzling fireworks display destined to surpass any others held in this country, or the world.
The “Statue of Liberty Centennial Fireworks Spectacular” was an international display, with fireworks from many different countries including Japan, China, Germany, Italy, England, France, Spain, Canada, Australia, Taiwan and Brazil. Many were developed especially for this international program, never before seen anywhere in the world. Approximately 22,000 aerial fireworks were launched from over 30 barges and other vantage points, and an additional 18,000 “set pieces” – ground pictures, fountains, colorful low displays – were seen, stretching from the East River, around the tip of Manhattan, up into the Hudson River, and around the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
The production required an estimated 220 miles of wires, 777,000 pounds of mortar tubes (through which sky rockets and aerial bombs were launched) 30,000 pounds of in sundry equipment and staff of at least 100 pyrotechnics on the sites to produce the displays. The men responsible for producing this colossal event are among the most famous in the fireworks industry: George Zambelli, president, Zambelli Internationale, Inc., Newcastle, Pennsylvania; Felix Grucci, Jr., president, Fireworks by Grucci, Inc., Bellport, New York; and Robert A. Souza, president of Pyro Spectaculars of Rialto (Los Angeles), California. Known as fierce competitors in the industry, they never before worked as a “triad”, yet for this event worked closely for nearly a year, designing and planning the largest and most magnificent display in the world in honor of Independence Day and Miss Liberty’s 100th anniversary.
Fireworks have been with Americans since the nation’s very beginnings, and now more fireworks and ignited for the Fourth of July than for any other national celebration in the world.
The Macy’s Fireworks Spectacular will light up the New York City’s sky for the Independence Day celebration once again this year.
Broadcast live on 1010 WINS, the official radio station of Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular, the show promises more than 20 minutes and roughly 70,000 pounds of explosions.
Taking place over the Hudson River, the fireworks show begins at 9:20 p.m. and brings out about 2 million spectators every year.
Make this year one to remember at one of the best places to watch fireworks in New York.
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise
Pier 83, W. 42nd St.
New York, NY 10036
Hours: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Board any number of the city’s beautiful cruise boats for a full night of drinks, dancing and perfect fireworks viewing. The Circle Line offers the cheapest option to cruise the Hudson during the city’s biggest fireworks show. A live DJ will bring the party onto the dance floor, and food and drinks will be available for purchase on board. Pick up tickets online before they sell out; this is one of the most popular ways to see the display.
Classic Harbor Line Cruise
Hours: 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
If you want to really party in style, board a 19th-century schooner — aptly named America 2.0 — and make a classy night of it with close friends and family. This is one of the more expensive cruises offered for Independence Day but if you’re looking to impress a date, it’s the activity for you. Hors d’oeuvres will be served alongside an open bar with champagne and other drinks. Be right on the water when fireworks are launched from six barges along the Hudson.
Taking place over the Hudson River, the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular show begins brings out about 2 million spectators every year
Empire State Building
350 5th Avenue
Hours: 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
One of the most iconic images in the entire country, the Empire State Building can’t be beat for a patriotic fireworks viewing. You’ll need to plan ahead for this event because tickets are limited to only about 300 for the night. If you haven’t yet made it to the 86th floor of this historic building, now is your chance to see the Manhattan skyline lit up in celebration. Tickets will include admission to the observatory as well as light refreshments.
The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
Pier 86, West 46th Street and 12th Avenue
Hours: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Every year, this museum opens its doors to ticketholders for a perfect viewing party of the Macy’s fireworks display. This World War II aircraft carrier turned museum promises a pretty patriotic Independence day as well. A ticket to the event will include entrance to the museum, a live DJ and a simulcast of the fireworks musical score. Special VIP vieweing of the spectacular event from the museum’s flight deck is the main attraction of the night.
621 West 46 Street
Price: $150 rooftop general admission/$250 rooftop cabana
Hours: 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Rooftop bars are aplenty in New York, offering beautiful, sweeping views of the skyline. Perhaps the best known is Hudson Terrace. Grab a ticket now to the city’s premiere event, where you’ll enjoy a barbecue, open bar, live DJ and spectacular fireworks display. Find yourself a perfect spot on the dance floor, where you’ll be partying all night to the tune of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
The Press Lounge
653 11th Avenue
Another rooftop bar in NYC that offers great views of the Manhattan skyline is the Press Lounge, located at the top of the Ink48 Hotel downtown. Known as one of the hottest bars in the city, this lounge features comfortable seating, a glass-walled interior space and modern architectural touches such as a low pool lit by footlights at night. The July 4th celebration includes an open bar with signature cocktails and a buffet featuring organic foods from the hotel’s own restaurant, Print.
West Side Highway
Hours: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The fireworks show will be most visible from the West Side, from 22nd to 55th Street. The roadway can offer ideal viewing, as long as you’re willing to stand. Get there early to claim your spot. The northbound lanes of West Side Highway will be closed to traffic to allow visitors to watch the show from there. The highway opens to pedestrians at 4 p.m. 12th Avenue will also be open at the same time for more standing spots.
It wouldn’t be the Fourth of July in New York City without the Annual Macy’s Fireworks, now in its 37th year.
The iconic display will take place over the Hudson River, so the optimal viewing spots are going to be on 12th Avenue between 23rd and 42nd streets, but anywhere with a decent view of the Hudson will work.
It wouldn’t be the Fourth of July in New York City without the Annual Macy’s Fireworks
If you plan on heading to where the action is, aim to be there by 5 p.m. to snag a good spot.
For this mother of all pyrotechnic displays, Macy’s will explode more than 40,000 fireworks choreographed to a 25-minute patriotic score.
Pop-music fans, take note: this year’s show was curated by Usher and features performances by Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Mariah Carey and Selena Gomez.
Admission price: Free
For more information, visit macys.com.
Americans celebrated 236 years of independence in spectacular style on Wednesday with dazzling displays of fireworks held across the country.
Though many of the festivities were cancelled or scaled down due to weather-related power outages and wildfire concerns, it was business as usual in New York as the Manhattan skyline was lit up to the delight of the thousands who lined the streets and millions watching at home.
Despite a day-long heat warning, thousands of revelers flocked to Manhattan’s west side to view the incredible Macy’s fireworks display, where a feat of pyrotechnics erupted over the Hudson River.
Meanwhile, millions at home watched Katy Perry giving a star-spangled performance in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, donning her uniform of a purple ponytail and an American flag mini-dress and singing the aptly named hit Firework. Country music sensation Kenny Chesney also performed.
Both performances were pre-recorded so as to avoid any snafus with inclement weather. The night’s events were MC’d by none other than Regis Philbin, who has been in retirement from Live With Regis and Kelly.
Crowds lined up early in the day along FDR Drive on Manhattan’s west side, despite a heat advisory and the promise of thunderstorms. But the weather held fast, and by sundown, temperatures were down to a cooler 86 degrees.
Americans celebrated 236 years of independence in spectacular style on Wednesday with dazzling displays of fireworks held across the country
Viewers along 12th Avenue witnessed as 40,000 fireworks in 15 dazzling colors and 30 separate shapes filled the sky in the half-hour spectacular.
But the storms had to go somewhere, and headed north to Boston. According to CBS Boston, the Esplanade was evacuated during the annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular due to severe thunderstorms.
Jennifer Hudson was among those performing. The station notes that people were evacuated right before the 1812 Overture.
Hundreds of thousands from the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic are spending the Fourth of July like America’s founders did in 1776: Without the conveniences of electricity and air conditioning.
Fireworks on the National Mall in Washington are planned to go forward, and in New York City, huge crowds lined the Hudson River to view the 36th annual Macy’s fireworks show.
Katy Perry giving a star-spangled performance in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, donning her uniform of a purple ponytail and an American flag mini-dress
In the nation’s capital, fireworks began shortly after 9:00 p.m. on the West Lawn. Entertainment was provided by Matthew Broderick, who performed two songs from the Broadway musical Nice Work If You Can Get It with Tony-nominated actress Keli O’Hara.
It was a mix of pop and classical in Washington, as the National Symphony Orchestra entertained with American classics like Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture with live cannon fire.
In Philadelphia, a dazzling fireworks show followed a 5,000-participant parade.
Singer Lauryn Hill performed days after pleading guilty to tax evasion, and the Roots also gave a rousing performance. Also performing were Queen Latifah, Common, and Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers.
Following the performances, fireworks were launched over the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
President Barack Obama marked the Fourth of July by thanking service members and their families, who he said “represent what is best in America”.
The president, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, hosted a barbecue and concert Wednesday for the families on the White House South Lawn.
Barack Obama saluted “this generation of heroes” for their service and sacrifice to defend American freedoms, specifically thanking them for bringing Osama bin Laden to justice and working to get out of Afghanistan.
He said the nation “will always be there for you, just as you’ve been there for us”. He said it was his promise, and America’s promise.
Afterward, the Obamas shook hands and posed for pictures with eager visitors. The U.S. Marine Band and country singer Brad Paisley performed.
Presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has spent most of the week off the campaign trail with his family in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, but took time Wednesday to march in the town’s Fourth of July parade.
He was joined by his wife Ann; the two of them were seen participating in the parade, riding in trolleys, and greeting the crowds.
The former Massachusetts governor has been on vacation at his lake house -estimated to be worth over $10million – for the better part of the week.