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Must-see fireworks

By Beth J. Harpaz
AP Travel Editor
NEW YORK ó The recession has forced the cancellation of fireworks displays in a number of places around the country like Blue Springs, Mo., and Mesa, Ariz. But many of the biggest and best-known displays will be nearly as spectacular as ever.
ěSome larger displays have been trimmed a bit but nothing that will have a major impact on the industry,î said Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association.
The timing of the holiday, on a Saturday, has actually ěhelped the fireworks industryî in some places, said M. Philip Butler, spokesman for Grucci, the famous fireworks company. ěWhenever itís a Saturday Fourth of July, we will have as much as a 50 percent increase in demand.î
Grucci shows this year include displays in Dallas, Omaha, Neb., Hawaii and Portland, Maine, along with Station Casinos in Las Vegas and the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.
Butler said ěthe most popular shell is still the happy face.î And fireworks choreographed to music ó often patriotic medleys, sometimes performed live ó also remain popular, usually with radio simulcasts.
Patterns and shapes like stars, fish, hearts and cubes are becoming more prevalent, Heckman said. ěThe real challenge is making letters appear in the sky,î she said. ěItís really difficult to get an aerial shell to break so it looks like an M and not a W.î
Grucciís fireworks at the Hickam Air Force Base and Pearl Harbor in Hawaii are scheduled to send up the letters ěUSAî while the national anthem is played.
Heckman issues an annual list of ěmust-seeî fireworks shows, but she says your local display may be just as much fun. ěThe low-level show, which youíre not going to see in a big city skyline, can be prettier,î she said. ěAnd a lot of the fun of it is just the community involvement, hanging out and tailgating and waiting for that first burst.î
What Heckman calls ěstar-spangled spectacularsî will take place as usual in New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington and Boston, which is known for its famous Fourth of July Boston Pops concert, this year featuring Neil Diamond. But here are a dozen more fireworks displays recommended by the American Pyrotechnics Association, including a few scheduled for July 3:
Addison, Texas: This Dallas suburb has a population of just 14,000 but tens of thousands of spectators turn out for the Kaboom Town fireworks held here each July 3.
Branson, Mo.: Another July 3 event, this display at Branson Landing in Historic Downtown Branson on Lake Taneycomo is surrounded by fountains and choreographed to an outdoor concert.
Chicago: Chicagoís annual July 3 event on the lakefront is considered ěone of the boldest, brightest, and biggest patriotic fireworks spectaculars of its kind,î Heckman said. The cityís Taste of Chicago event, June 26-July 5, is at the same location. Be prepared for massive crowds.
Columbus, Ohio: The event known as ěRed, White & BOOM!î is held July 3 near Veteranís Memorial in downtown Columbus. Itís one of the largest in the Midwest after Chicagoís, with a parade and 400,000 folks attending.
Mount Rushmore, S.D.: This national monument hosts a glorious pyrotechnic display on July 3 that attracts 20,000 to 30,000 people. Officials say if youíre planning to attend, be prepared to park anywhere from 1 to 3 miles away, and donít be in a hurry to leave as it can take an hour or more to clear roadways after the show.
Stone Mountain, Ga.: This park near Atlanta will host big fireworks shows three nights in a row, July 3, 4 and 5. The display will be combined with a laser light show at the base of the mountain. You have to pay to park your car but the shows are free.
Charlotte, N.C.: Five Charlotte radio stations will host viewing parties and will simulcast music for Uptown Charlotteís ěRed, White and Boomî display July Fourth, a 20-minute computer-designed ěpyro-musical.î
Falmouth, Mass.: July Fourth fireworks on Cape Cod will honor Falmouth native Katharine Lee Bates, who was born 150 years ago and wrote the words to ěAmerica the Beautiful.î The song will lead off a musical accompaniment to the pyrotechnics. Twitter updates on the fireworks are planned.
Las Vegas: This one-of-a-kind city is the location for a one-of-a-kind Fourth of July celebration, with integrated, simultaneous fireworks at nine Station Casinos, including Green Valley Ranch, Red Rock Resort, and Aliante Station, with a separate fireworks show at Mandalay Bay.
Nashville: This is the 25th year for Nashvilleís ěLet Freedom Singî July Fourth fireworks on the riverfront, choreographed to live music by the Nashville Symphony. Pyrotechnics will include shells breaking 800 feet above the river, low-level fireworks from 10 spots along the shore, and fireworks that erupt from the surface of the Cumberland River.
Oahu, Hawaii: Fireworks will light up the skies July Fourth with a tribute to the U.S. military at Hickam Air Force Base and Pearl Harbor.
South Lake Tahoe, Nev.: The ěLights on the Lakeî July Fourth fireworks event can be seen from the beach, from boats on the lake and from the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains.
 

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