Top Fourth of July fireworks spots across the US

Here are ten of the biggest and best (as well as some smaller and more regionally or otherwise distinctive) fireworks displays to anticipate this Fourth of July across the United States. And even if you can’t be in ten places across a continent in a single day (you can’t? weird!) these spots might just provide a good reference list for your next decade of Fourth of July vacation planning.

1. South Lake Tahoe, California.

The largest synchronized fireworks display west of the Mississippi will kick off on the southern end of South Lake Tahoe, starting around 9:45 pm. Lake Tahoe provides a mesmerizing surface for reflected pyrotechnics.

2. Seward, Alaska.

Seward, south of Anchorage, is flooded with tourists on July 4. The town’s festivities get off to an early start with Seward’s waterfront fireworks, which begin at 12:01 am on the morning of July 4.

3. Washington, DC.

A display over the Washington Monument is one of the country’s most distinctive. Fireworks are set off from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool after 9:00 pm.

4. New York City, New York.

The Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks show, set along the Hudson River, will kick off at 9 pm with Justin Bieber tasked with the job of getting the patriotism flowing. (How’s that for Canadian-American cross-border good will?) This year’s display is graced with a score titled “American Harmony,” performed by the New York Pops and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

5. Amarillo, Texas.

The largest fireworks display in the Texas panhandle gets started at 9:30 pm at John Stiff Memorial Park. 10,000 people are expected this year.

6. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Jordan Park, on the arty west side of Salt Lake City, hosts a 10 pm fireworks display.

7. Ala Moana Center, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Hawaii’s biggest fireworks display kicks off at 8:30 pm at the Ala Moana Center shopping mall in Honolulu, following several hours of musical entertainment.

8. Tacoma, Washington.

Tacoma’s fireworks will get going at 10 pm on the city’s Commencement Bay, the grand finale of Tacoma’s annual Freedom Fair. The bay provides a glorious expanse for the fireworks display.

9. St. Louis, Missouri.

At 9:15 pm, a fireworks display will close out 2010’s Fair Saint Louis at Gateway Arch. The St. Louis display is regarded to be one of the best in the country by hardcore fireworks fans.

10. New Orleans. Louisiana.

The Big Easy’s Dueling Barges Fireworks Extravaganza makes for an especially vibrant and exciting fireworks display.

Don’t see your city listed? More great destinations

[Image: Flickr/Clearly Ambiguous]

Mom and kid booted from plane, demand apology and compensation

It’s easy for passengers to grow annoyed with kids on planes. There’s nothing worse than hearing a scream and knowing you’re about to be part of a captive audience for several hours. Yet, flight crews usually show a lot more tolerance. Hey, they’re on the plane to earn a paycheck. Every job has trials to be endured. Pamela Root’s son, however, was too much for them.

Kid and mom were kicked from the Southwest flight from Amarillo, Texas to San Jose, California, because the former was screaming, “Go! Plane! Go!” and “I want Daddy!” Root believes the kid would have piped down once the wheels were up, but the plane’s staffers didn’t want to roll the dice. Root and child were escorted off the plane.

Of course, the 38-year-old stay-at-home mom has her list of demands. In addition to an apology, she’s looking for compensation for a portable crib and diapers that she needed to buy for the unplanned extra night away from home. I’m curious as to why. She’d need the diapers anyway: the kids bowels, I suspect, work just as well in Amarillo as they did in San Jose — no more, no less. And, where did the kid sleep the nights before she bought the portable crib? Were they unable to stay where they had been for the trip? Did she not feel like it?

Hmmmmm …

As to the apology, I’m sure she apologized repeatedly and profusely to the flight crew and other passengers, right?

If anyone was on the flight and can shed some light, please leave a comment, thanks!

Texas town pays for visitors

Finally, there’s a reason to go to Amarillo. Stay in a hotel, motel or bed and breakfast in this town from March 1, 2009 to September 30, 2009, and you could walk away $1,000 richer. Just send a copy of your receipt to the Amarillo Convention and Visitors Council to have your name entered into the drawing. Of course, longer stays better your odds. Spend two nights in town, and your name is entered into the drawing twice – three nights, three times. The maximum is 10 entries for 10 nights.

While you’re in town, check out Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Kwahadi Museum of the American Indian, Wonderland Amusement Park and Big Texan Steak Ranch. Well, at least you have a shot at the price money.

Throughout the summer, there will be 10 drawings, each for $1,000. If you win, you can put the money toward an interesting trip next year.