Where Fireworks Freaks Go On Independence Day

Independence Day
Adam Baker/Flickr

As America prepares to celebrate its Independence Day this week, thoughts might turn to picnics, barbecues, an extra day off work and a patriotic display of fireworks. Look up after dark on the Fourth of July at just about any city or town in the United States and colorful displays will fill the sky. Some Americans plan their own displays where permitted while others seek out traditional fireworks celebrations that have been held annually for decades. Not sure where to go for the best of the best in fireworks? We checked in with a variety of sources and experts in their respective fields of travel for ideas. One of these places should work just fine for the fireworks freak inside you.

The Travel Channel ranks everything from the best beaches to the best bike cities in the U.S. On their list of Best U.S. Fireworks Displays, they like “America’s biggest birthday party” under the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Kaboom Town in Addison, TX, the largest fireworks display in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Navy Pier in Chicago, with regular fireworks every Wednesday and Saturday night as some of their top places to go.

Hotel search engine Room 77 knows about more than 200,000 hotels worldwide and has a list of the Top 10 Hotels with the Highest “Boom Factor,” offering the best vantage points from pools and rooftop bars to balconies, beaches and even bathtubs. They like the Hyatt Regency Austin, one of the few hotels in the city that overlook the water; the Mandarin Oriental New York, where some rooms in the 54-story hotel have marble soaking tub views of the river and fireworks; and the W Washington DC where the rooftop bar offers a premiere vantage point for viewing the fireworks over the mall, one of the most spectacular Fourth of July celebrations in the entire country.At Disney Parks and on Disney Cruise Line ships, nightly fireworks displays are a big part of the experience every day of the year but especially on July Fourth. What fireworks freaks know that many fans of the Disney displays do not is that the colorful, timed explosions are not actually “blown” off the ground at all.

The Walt Disney Company is the largest user of fireworks in the world and coordinates aerial displays with microsecond accuracy to coincide with music or live action performances. They have been doing that using compressed air rather than gunpowder since 1999, making display shells explode in the air using an electronic timer. The result is a reduction of fumes, greater accuracy in height and timing and a surprise effect unmatched by gunpowder-driven pyrotechnics.

To see one of the reasons why Disney Cruise Line ranks consistently high in customer satisfaction, take a look at their Buccaneer Blast display, held at sea:

Photo Of The Day: Fourth Of July In Indiana


Patriotism means something different to everyone, but today we each celebrate the home we have found in the United States. We celebrate today with things that complete any good party: food, drinks, music, the outdoors and a good show. In most places, the show tonight will be a fireworks display. For that reason, I chose this photo by Keith Pennington as today’s Photo Of The Day. A night sky in Lake Wawasee, Indiana, is misted over from the explosions of fireworks on a Fourth of July past. Enjoy your holiday and be safe.

If you have a photo you’d like to have considered for Photo Of The Day, just upload it to the Gadling Flickr pool.

Independence Day Travel Forecast

Fireworks in Austin from July 4th, 2010

With Independence Day arriving tomorrow, many Texans are wondering just how to celebrate the 4th of July without fireworks. The sparkling display has been canceled this year due to the extreme drought in the area. I recently published a piece on Alternatives to Fireworks for those of you afflicted by firework-less regions. My favorite suggestion in the piece, cheesy as it may sound, was a fireworks film projected onto a wall. Some of my friends are having a BBQ tomorrow for the special day and I’m not kidding when I say: I totally plan on making everyone celebrate via the Austin fireworks show from last year’s July 4th.

Check out the video and honor the USA by way of YouTube video tomorrow if you have no other way to set off or see fireworks. And if you have seen or will be seeing fireworks for the holiday? Feel free to share your video link in the comments on this piece.

Tube, Mine, and Shell Fireworks

Spend Independence Day in a national park

Celebrate Independence Day in the National ParksThe Fourth of July holiday has always been a popular one in the U.S. This coming weekend, millions of people across the country will gather with friends and family to celebrate the day our country won its independence with food, music, and fireworks. It is a tradition like no other, and one that is made all the better when combined with another great American tradition – the national parks.

With the three-day holiday weekend nearly upon us, the National Park Service has a number of activities planned across the entire park system. For instance, Valley Forge National Park will play host to the annual community picnic, which features plenty of hamburgers and hotdogs, arts and crafts for the kids, Revolutionary War reenactors, and a reading of the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson himself. Festivities get underway at 11 AM and run throughout the afternoon.

Similarly, Adams National Historical Park in Massachusetts has a full schedule of events planned for July 4th as well. Things will get underway at 1 PM with storyteller William Hogeland sharing the tale of how the Declaration of Independence was drafted and eventually signed. Later in the afternoon, visitors will have the opportunity to join the second Continental Congress itself and take part in the drafting of that document themselves. Finally, the evening will wrap up with a dramatic re-telling of the friendship of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. A friendship that not only withstood the test of time, but would also help forge a nation.Visitors to Mt. Rushmore will have two days to take in that park’s annual celebration, which is always amongst the best in the entire park system. Starting on Sunday, July 3rd and running through the 4th, there will be a variety of live music, and presidential reenactors wandering the park. On Sunday evening the U.S. Air Force will also conduct several dramatic flyovers, including a B-1 bomber. Other events include a flag folding ceremony, a salute to veterans, a military swearing in ceremony, and more.

Those looking for the ultimate in fireworks displays, should plan on dropping by the National Mall in Washington DC. Those that beat the rush, and get there early in the day, can claim one of the better viewing spots near the reflecting pool, and where the fireworks are launched on the evening of the 4th. Starting just after 9 PM, the night sky will explode in spectacular colors, illuminating the Lincoln and Washington Memorials, as well as the Capitol Building itself. It is truly a patriotic sight to behold.

There are, of course, plenty of other parks that are holding their own celebrations as well. Checkout the National Park Service website for more details on what is happening in your area, and start making plans to celebrate Independence Day 2011 in your favorite national park.

[Photo credit: UpstateNYer via WikiMedia Commons]

The national parks celebrate July 4th

Looking for things to do today to help celebrate the fourth of July? Then look no further than the U.S. National Parks, many of which are hosting special events to celebrate Independence Day.

For example, Mt. Rushmore has a full schedule of activities set for the day that includes folk dancing, autographs from historical figures, music, and informational talks given by the rangers. In the evening, there will be a lighting ceremony, a film and a patriotic rendition of the national anthem. All of these events will take place in the shadow of one of the best known monuments in the world, in which four former Presidents watch over the region. (Cost: Free!)

Visitors to Morristown National Historic Park, located in New Jersey, can enjoy a live reading of the Declaration of Independence by a park ranger in a traditional historical costume. Prior to the reading, there will be stories, jokes, and riddles delivered by the staff, and an inspection of the Revolutionary era troops as well. After the reading there will be live music provided by historical balladeer Linda Russell too. (Cost: Free!)

Over in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, there will be a traditional 1860′s era celebration, with a picnic, band concerts, and patriotic speeches in honor of the founding fathers. There will also be a display of the “Wonders of the World” circa 1860 as well, and visitors can compete in the militia games in such events as tug-of-war and a water bucket brigade. (Cost: $6/car or $4/person on foot or bike)

The 4th of July is celebrated in grand style in the Colorado National Monument where they raise the flag 450 feet above the canyon floor to the top of Independence Monument, the tallest free standing rock formation in the park. That formation will be scaled by 30 rock climbers who will deliver “Old Glory” to its resting place for the day. There will also be guided walks through the park and inspirational stories told as well. (Cost: Free!)

Valley Forge National Park will have an Independence Day celebration of its own with living history demonstrations that include artillery from the Revolutionary War. Vendors will be selling hamburgers and hotdogs, and there will be plenty of games and crafts for the kids to enjoy as well. (Cost: Free!)

This is just a taste of some of the events going on in the National Parks today. Check out NPS.org to see what your favorite park has planned. Chances are, you’ll be able to celebrate the day with some fun activities.

Happy 4th of July everyone!

[Photo credit: NPS.gov]