NEW YORK: Americans marked their nation’s 245th birthday on Sunday with fireworks that may look brighter, hotdogs that may taste juicier and marching bands that may sound jauntier after the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of nearly all celebrations last year.
As always, fireworks displays are the highlight of the July Fourth holiday. Two of the biggest pyrotechnic shows in the country will blast off over the National Mall in Washington, and over a mile stretch of New York City’s East River, separating Manhattan from the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn.
Some classic July Fourth events such as Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in Brooklyn’s Coney Island remained scaled back to allow for social distancing in recognition of the continued threat of the Covid-19, which has killed more than 600,000 Americans. The more aggressive Delta variant has raised alarms about the potential for another surge among the unvaccinated.
Even so, this holiday was a time for Americans to show their patriotism and to celebrate a fresh sense of freedom in a personal sense by mingling with friends once again and enjoying summer’s simple pleasures.
But this year’s July Fourth was not entirely carefree. The US Department of Homeland Security warned state and local police last week of a heightened threat of violence by domestic extremist groups amid relaxed Covid-19 restrictions and the July Fourth holiday.