Our Founding Fathers may not have been able to predict specifics about modern day society, but they knew our independence would always be something worth celebrating—and no celebration would ever be too grand, too loud or too bright. John Adams wrote about his early expectations for future celebrations in a letter to his wife, dated July 3, 1776.
"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, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."
While many argue we, as a country, have deviated from the principals set out by Adams and the rest of our Forefathers, it’s clear we’ve maintained gratitude for our independence. If nothing else, we’ve certainly kept up the grand-scale celebrations that light up the sky.
These annual celebrations are tough to scale, but marginally easier when tracking money spent. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, the fireworks industry in the U.S. has seen massive growth every year since 1998, with only one exception. In 2013, for the entire year, APA said the display fireworks industry saw $328 million in profits, while the consumer side saw $662 million in profits.
Separate data from the last four years shows almost half of all Americans either watch fireworks or attend a community event on the Fourth of July. In 2010, the National Retail Federation estimated that American’s spent a combined total of around $3 million on everything from parties and food to entertainment and travel, in anticipation of Independence Day.
The public isn’t the only one directly shelling out tons of money to celebrate, cities and towns across the U.S. are maintaining their large-scale Independence Day budgets even in tight economic times. It isn’t out of the norm to see a big city, like New York or DC, pay well over $100,000 for a 20 to 30 minute show. Even small towns like Addison, Texas, have been putting up big money to be named one of the best fireworks displays in the country. In 2012, the small town reportedly spent $220,000 for their Independence Day display, which included both fireworks and an air show.
These larger-than-life shows attract tourists, bring communities together and, most importantly, commemorate our independence. From the peaks of Lake Tahoe to the shores of the East River, there will be thousands of fantastic fireworks displays around the country. We won’t say which we think is the best—though we will name the biggest—we’re outlining a few of the major shows and where you should go to get the best view.
Take a look at the best spots to see fireworks and let us know where you’ll be watching.
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Disney World Resorts, FloridaPutting on fireworks displays since 1971, Disney has essentially mastered the art and their two-day Fourth of July Concert in the Sky caries on the tradition. To see the show, you can go to the park or you can get creative and catch the show from nearby beaches—the beaches off the Polynesian Resort and the Grand Floridian Resort offer views and convenience. The show can also be seen from boats and nearby docks. Disneyworld.go.com
The East River, New York
The city that never sleeps is home to the biggest fireworks display in the U.S. The show, hosted by Macy’s, will feature big name artists like Ariana Grande, Enrique Iglesias and Lionel Richie. If you can’t make it to New York City, NBC will be hosting live from the Brooklyn Bridge, but if you can get there, they recommend heading to Brooklyn Bridge Park or the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. To beat the crowds, we recommend foregoing the packed public places and snagging a spot on a boat for a night you won’t forget. Macys.com
Restaurants in Addison, Texas
This tiny town with just 19,000 residents in Texas celebrates Independence Day with all the rigor of a major city (and the budget to match). The show, named Kaboom Town, has reportedly spent more than $200,000 on the 30-minute show in recent years. The show has been named to APA’s top ten fireworks displays in America and regularly draws half a million visitors from around the country. Due to flat land and the grand scale of the show, it can be seen for miles around. Most local restaurants host parties if you’re looking to get away from the craziness of the festival. Addisontexas.net
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