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4th of july

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A South Dakota 4th of July hot dog eating contest turned tragic when a contestant choked to death.

Walter Eagle Tail, 47, of Custer, died at a hospital Thursday after attempts to save him at the scene failed, Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler told the Rapid City Journal.

“There was someone doing CPR when we arrived,” Rick Wheeler said.

“He probably just suffocated. It got lodged in his throat and they [paramedics] couldn’t get it out.

A South Dakota 4th of July hot dog eating contest turned tragic when a contestant choked to death

A South Dakota 4th of July hot dog eating contest turned tragic when a contestant choked to death

“It all happened within minutes,” the sheriff said.

The Custer Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the contest, canceled a pie-eating contest scheduled for Friday.

“We are at a loss for words,” Chamber Executive Director Dave Ressler said.

“We are mourning for Walter and his family right now.”

Speed-eating competitions are popular over the 4th of July weekend. Eight-time champion Joey “Jaws” Chestnut managed to eat 61 hot dogs in 10 minutes at an annual contest in Coney Island, New York, on Friday – eight short of the record 69 he swallowed in the 2013 competition.

George Shea, chairman of Major League Eating, a competitive eating organization based in New York, said organizers do all they can to prevent casualties during contests.

Funeral arrangements were pending for Walter Eagle Tail, whom friends described as a fun-loving, kind and caring man.

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In 1776, the Second Continental Congress declared the United States of America an independent nation not on July 4, as more than two centuries of Independence Day celebrations would suggest, but on July 2.

John Adams, a congressional delegate from Massachusetts and a future president of the new nation, wrote about the vote for independence in a letter to his wife, Abigail: “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. 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.”

So why do Americans celebrate Independence Day on July 4th? Because that was the date on the Declaration of Independence, a document that was widely publicized and reprinted from one end of the fledgling nation to the other. As a result, the Fourth of July quickly became associated with personal liberty and national independence in the minds of all Americans.

The Second Continental Congress declared the United States of America an independent nation not on July 4, but on July 2

The Second Continental Congress declared the United States of America an independent nation not on July 4, but on July 2 (photo Wikipedia)

The Fourth of July was not a federal holiday until 1941. Although July 4 had long been celebrated as the Independence Day holiday by tradition, and even by congressional decree, it was not officially a federal holiday until Congress agreed to give federal employees the day off with pay – and that didn’t happen until 1941.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who had been leaders in the American Revolution and US presidents as well as personal friends and political adversaries throughout much of their long lives, died on the same day, July 4, 1826. Their deaths came exactly 50 years after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, which Thomas Jefferson had drafted and both men signed.

As John Adams was near death on the evening of July 4, 1826, his last words were reported to be: “Thomas Jefferson still survives.”

John Adams was mistaken. Jefferson had died approximately five hours earlier.

In July 1776, there were approximately 2.5 million people living in the newly independent United States of America, roughly the same number of people who currently live in Brooklyn, New York.

After much debate among the Founding Fathers, the bald eagle was chosen as the new American symbol and appeared as the centerpiece of the national seal. Benjamin Franklin never really embraced the choice.

The first public recognition of American independence was in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776, just a few days after Congress declared the nation’s independence from Great Britain. The Liberty Bell sounded from the tower of Independence Hall, summoning people to the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence by Colonel John Nixon. Even though Congress had adopted the Declaration on July 4, it was not publicly announced until July 8, after the document came back from the printer.

The first annual commemoration of American independence occurred on July 4, 1777, in Philadelphia while Americans were still at war with the British, fighting to hold onto the liberty they had declared for themselves a year earlier.

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Duck Dynasty’s Uncle Si Robertson will start the 4th of July celebration early this year with a Rock Springs Church charity picnic on Sunday, June 29, in Milner, Georgia.

Si Robertson will start the 4th of July celebration early this year with a Rock Springs Church charity picnic in Milner

Si Robertson will start the 4th of July celebration early this year with a Rock Springs Church charity picnic in Milner (photo Facebook)

America’s favorite uncle wil be joined by his son, Scott Robertson, his daughter-in law, Marsha Markert Robertson, and two friends.

Si Robertson wrote on his Facebook page: “Hey JACK! I’m gonna start the celebration early this year because I love this country so much! Come celebrate with me, my son and daughter in law and my friends Diamond Rio and Mac Powell and help us raise some money for a good cause at Rock Springs Church in Milner, GA this Sunday! The party starts at 5:00pm, don’t be late, OK?! #RSPicnic.

Ireland Baldwin tweeted a picture on 4th of July of her wearing a bikini while paddleboarding with boyfriend Slater Trout in Idaho.

The 6ft 2in beauty showed off her toned figure in the bright orange bikini as she put her arms around Slater Trout, 18, from behind while he paddled.

Ireland Baldwin, 17, also posted a picture of the pair kissing after taking a dip in the lake.

Ireland Baldwin celebrates 4th of July paddleboarding with boyfriend Slater Trout

Ireland Baldwin celebrates 4th of July paddleboarding with boyfriend Slater Trout

She accompanied the photo with the caption: “Happy 4th. About to embark on a camping trip with @slatertrout. Hope you all have a fun holiday with your loved ones!”

Ireland Baldwin, who is attempting to become the fashion world’s latest “It Girl”, told People magazine recently: “I have never met anyone who is a more incredible person in my life,” she said, referring to Slater Trout.

“I would say he is my best friend. We can act stupid in public, private, or wherever and we are always laughing.”

Slater Trout then chimed in: “We don’t do normal stuff. We go paddle boarding with humpback whales in Maui.

“We go on athletic dates. And very romantic ones too. Like we will go to like a bluff and star gaze and go on trail runs and walk the dogs.”

Despite Ireland Baldwin living in Los Angeles with mother Kim Basinger, she still makes time to visit her boyfriend “once a month”.

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According to the National Sausage and Hot Dog Council (NHDSC), Americans are expected to eat 150 million hot dogs over the July 4th holiday alone, part of the 7 billion hot dogs eaten over the summer season from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Americans are expected to eat 150 million hot dogs over the July 4th holiday alone

Americans are expected to eat 150 million hot dogs over the July 4th holiday alone

How did the modern day hot dog become such an iconic part of America? It’s a tough question to answer and even the NHDSC offers little clarity:

“It is likely that the North American hot dog comes from a widespread common European sausage brought here by butchers of several nationalities. Also in doubt is who first served the dachshund sausage with a roll. One report says a German immigrant sold them, along with milk rolls and sauerkraut, from a push cart in New York City’s Bowery during the 1860′s. In 1871, Charles Feltman, a German butcher opened up the first Coney Island hot dog stand selling 3,684 dachshund sausages in a milk roll during his first year in business.”

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, which launched an informal price survey this year looking at the cost of hot dogs, cheeseburgers and other Independence Day fare, 2013 Fourth of July picnic costs $6 per person.

A typical summertime picnic averages $57.20 for 10 people, or $5.72 per person, according to the group, which puts out a similar estimate for Thanksgiving.

“Five dollars a person for a special event cookout is affordable for most people,” said John Anderson, chief deputy economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“We certainly know that there are people who struggle with affording food and other necessities, but in general, we’re blessed with very affordable food in this country.”

Sixty volunteer shoppers in 22 states checked retail prices for summer picnic foods for the American Farm Bureau Federation’s survey.

The group puts together a similar annual informal price survey about Thanksgiving dinner fare. Last year, the group said a turkey dinner with all the trimmings would cost about $49.48 for 10, or just under $5 per person.

Fourth of July 2103 picnic costs less than $6 per person, according to an American Farm Bureau Federation survey

Fourth of July 2103 picnic costs less than $6 per person, according to an American Farm Bureau Federation survey

However, since this year marks the group’s first Fourth of July price survey, John Anderson said the group doesn’t have concrete numbers to compare with the 2013 figures.

“We expect the general level of prices to go up around 2 per cent a year,” John Anderson said.

“That’s kind of normal price inflation, and… I certainly think that we’re in the ballpark of those normal price changes over the past year.”

Aside from burgers and hot dogs, the farm group’s picnic menu includes pork spare ribs, potato salad, lemonade, baked beans, watermelon, corn chips, chocolate milk, ketchup and mustard.

That list doesn’t include beer, which some Americans are shelling out a bit more for this year.

“More people are trading up to premium, more expensive beer,” said John Davie, president and CEO of Boston-based Consolidated Concepts, which works with thousands of food and restaurant outlets to help them save money on food and other supplies.

John Davie also said the price of chicken breast has increased since this time last year.

Shopper Debra Graham agrees with that.

“It’s almost as cheap to buy steaks as to do chicken or burgers,” she said outside a Little Rock grocery store where she bought catfish for a Fourth of July fish fry.

But Debra Graham, 52, said other prices seemed about as high as they usually are.

“If you want it, you’ve got to pay for it,” she said.

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The 4th of July is a day for family fun.

Whether you’re taking a trip or looking for fireworks close to home, here’s a sample of festivities.

  • Philadelphia: Welcome America Festival
    Philadelphia’s annual Independence Day festival celebrates for almost two weeks, starting the last week in June with concerts, food events, and much more, and leading up to a full day of festivities on July 4th.
    Events on the 4th of July include a parade, a Liberty Bell tapping ceremony, a “Party on the Parkway”, and an evening concert followed by fireworks.
  • Fourth of July in New York City
    From Hot Dog Eating Contests to Cruises to Concerts…
  • A highlight in NYC is Macy’s stupendous Fourth of July Fireworks, set off from several locations from barges on the Hudson River.
  • Long Island, NY
    Fireworks, parades, festivals, races, more.
  • Boston’s Fourth of July Harborfest
    “America’s Biggest Independence Day Party” is a multi-day bash with hundreds of events – from historic tours to Children’s Day to Chowderfest- and attracts more than 2.5 million visitors. Fourth of July Pops Concert at the Esplanade is a tradition, leading up to fireworks over the Charles River.
  • July 4th in Chicago
    Chicago’s biggest fireworks spectacle took place for decades on July 3rd at Grant Park, with over a million people – with blankets, coolers, picnics – watching from the lakefront, but this event was discontinued. On July 4th, Navy Pier – which has fireworks all summer – will have a special fireworks display.

    The 4th of July is a day for family fun

    The 4th of July is a day for family fun

  • Baltimore’s Fourth of July Celebration
    Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is the place to be: check Calendar for all-day fun, and grand finale fireworks.
  • Washington DC: 4th of July
    A giant National Independence Day Parade starts the celebration along Constitution Avenue; in the afternoon, the annual Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife entertains; the National Archives has a Family Day; and in the evening, the National Symphony Orchestra performs while one of the country’s largest shows of fireworks lights up the reflecting pool on the National Mall.
  • 4th of July in Colonial Williamsburg
    Colonial Williamsburg is living history: real-life actors in the streets and in historic houses bring to life the days before the American Revolution. Expect fireworks, and the chance to ask a few questions – ask Thomas Jefferson or Patrick Henry, that is.
  • Virginia Beach
    It’s a Stars & Stripes Explosion for July 4th: oceanfront stages with live performances; thousands of visitors; many styles of live music; spectacular fireworks over the ocean.
  • Fourth of July in Orlando
    Expect great fireworks in this town! Find fireworks and celebrations at Universal Orlando, Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, more.
  • Houston, Texas
    Festivities and live entertainment in Eleanor Tinsley Park lead up to “the nation’s largest land-based fireworks show” (-NYC’s fireworks are on a river).
  • Austin, Texas
    Bring a blanket and picnic basket, for fireworks and music by the Austin Symphony; other venues too.
  • New Orleans
    Celebrate Independence Day New Orleans style: Go 4th on the River is a major bash, with live entertainment followed by the “Dueling Barges Fireworks Extravaganza” on the Mississippi River. Other events, too.
  • Top Picks for 4th of July in St. Louis
    The Fair St. Louis has a parade that’s been rolling for over 130 years, a Family Fun Village, free concerts, and of course fireworks. Other celebrations too in nearby towns.
  • Phoenix Independence Day
    Picnics, concerts, rides, etc., leading up to the fireworks.
  • Los Angeles: 4th of July Festivities
    Where to celebrate the 4th of July in and around LA: festivals, fireworks, BBQ’s, and more, including events in the Valley and Orange County.
  • LA: Americafest at the Rose Bowl
    A standout event for July 4th for families in the LA area: the Rose Bowl stadium, in Pasadena, has a day-long festival with live music, food, entertainment, and “the biggest and best fireworks show in Southern California”.
  • San Francisco
    The 4th of July Celebration takes place at Pier 39, part of the popular tourist complex that includes Fisherman’s Wharf, the Cannery, and Ghirardelli Square. Free family fun, bands, street performers, marionettes, face-painting, and, of course, fireworks.
  • Seattle
    Celebrations include the day-long Family Fourth at Lake Union which ends with a fireworks extravaganza, Tacoma’s Fourth of July Freedom Fair, and more.

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July 4th 2013 Sale Roundup

Featured:

Ebay: Shop the 4th of July Blowout Sale in Every Category

Macy’s: July 4th Furniture Sale with the Lowest Prices of the Season

SeaWorld: $15 Off San Diego + Free 2nd Visit Code: SWCTACOBELL2013

$12 Off Tickets to SeaWorld San Antonio w/ Code: SAVE12

Eat Free All Day at SeaWorld Orlando w/ Code: PLAYANDDINE

Sears: Hot Deals on Appliances + Extra 10% Off Appliances $499+ with Code: APPLIANCE10 (Only on Appliances Sold by Sears)

Clothing:

Ann Taylor: 30% Off Your Entire Purchase with Code: SUMMERCHIC

Bare Necessities: 30-40% Off Sale + Extra 20% Off w/ Code: BNSAVINGS [Exp. 7/31]

Backcountry : Find Freedom at the 4th of July Sale Up to 40% Off

Bebe: 15% Off Regular Priced Items w/ Code WELCOME15 [Exp. 6/30]

Also, Sale Up to 60% Off

Children’s Place: Extra 20% Off Sitewide w/ code V8KFAY13 [Exp. 7/8]

Forever 21: Shop Sale Items Up to 75% Off

JCPenney: 10% Off Your Purchase w/ Code: SPREE10

Justice: Save an Extra 40% Off Entire Purchase w/ Code 721 [Exp. 7/21]

Kohls: Extra 15% Off w/ code: LADYBUG15 [Exp. 6/30]

Also, 20% Off w/ Kohl’s Card & Code: GRILLWITH20 + Free Shipping w/ Kohl’s Card & Code: SHIPFREE4U [Exp. 6/30]

Last Call by Neiman Marcus: Red White & Wow Sale + Free Shipping on $75+ w/ Code: LCJUN75 [Exp. 7/1]

Loft : 50% Off Tees, Tanks, Shorts, Swim & Cover-Ups w/ Code: SUMMERFAVS

Macys: Extra 15% Off w/ Code: HOT [Exp. 6/30]

Nautica: 20% Off 2, 30% Off 3, or 40% Off 4 Items w/ Code: JULY4 [Exp. 7/8]

Neiman Marcus: Extra 25% Off Already Reduced Prices for Savings Up to 55% Off through July 4th + Free Shipping w/ Code: JUNEFS [Exp. 6/30]

Nordstrom: Up to 60% Off Designer Clearance

One Stop Plus: $20 Off $50, $25 Off $75 & $30 Off $100 w/ Code: OSPCOUPON2 [Exp. 12/31]

PacSun: Use Code: FREE4YOU for Free Shipping through July 4th

RUUM Children’s Wear: 20% Off Any Order w/ Code: RUUM4SUMMER [Exp. 7/11]

ShopLately: Trendy July 4th Fashion Accessories

Sierra Trading Post: 20-25% Off Pre-Fourth of July Sale through 7/1

Tilly’s: Up to 86% Off Clearance + Free Shipping Sitewide, No Minimum w/ Code: FREEDEAL [Exp. 6/28]

Victoria’s Secret: Semi-Annual Sale Up to 50% Off + Free Shipping on $100 w/ Code: SHIP13 [Exp. 7/7]

Woman Within: 30% Off Any Order + Spend $50 & Get Free Shipping w/ Code: WW69057 [Exp. 12/31]

Electronics:

Best Buy: 10-30% Off Major Appliances [Exp. 7/10]

Dell : Get 50% Off Select Dell Laptops w/ Code: 0H9Q3PQ6L3744C

MacMall: Celebrate Independence Day with the 4th of July Sale – Up to $649 Off [Exp. 7/4]

July 4th 2013 Sale

July 4th 2013 Sale

Newegg : July 4th Sale & Independence Day Bargains

Office Depot: $15 Off $150 w/ Code: 23671737 [Exp. 7/13]

Handbags & Jewelry:

Jewelry.com: 10% Off + Free Shipping w/ Code: JUN10 [Exp. 6/30]

Kate Spade: Save up to 50-75% off Sale Handbags + Free Shipping

Nordstrom: Up to 60% Off Handbags & Jewelry

Home & Garden:

Ace Hardware: $10 Off $75+ w/ Code: VISASU13ACE [Exp. 6/30]

Harbor Freight: 25% Off Any One Item Only on July 4th + More Coupons Valid Now through July

Home Depot: Red, White & Blue Savings with Summer Values

JCPenney: 20-30% Off Kitchen, Dining, Storage & Housekeeping w/ Code: BMSM45 [Exp. 7/11]

Kohl’s: 15% Off $100 or More w/ Code: LADYBUG15 [Exp. 6/30]

Also, 20% Off w/ Kohl’s Card & Code: GRILLWITH20 + Free Shipping w/ Kohl’s Card & Code: SHIPFREE4U [Exp. 6/30]

Lowe’s: Up to 35% Off Select Major Appliances through July 9

Macy’s: July 4th Furniture Sale with the Lowest Prices of the Season

Target : Up to 40% Off Garden & Patio Sale through July 4th

Walmart: 4th of July Specials & Deals

Health Care & Beauty:

Bath and Body Works: Up to 75% Off Semi-Annual Sale + Extra 20% Off w/ Code: BEACHES13

Also, $10 Off $40 or More w/ Code: S139090 [Exp. 7/7]

Perfumania: Up to 70% Off Sale + Extra $10 off $95+ Free Shipping with code: AFT9510 or 20% off one Full-Priced Item w/ code: ENT12B

Sally: $5 Off Any Purchase of $25+ w/ code: “555148”

Sephora: Extra 10% off with VIB membership w/ Code: V436CB

Ulta: $3.50 off Any $10 Purchase w/ code: 103513 [Exp. 6/29]

Shoes:

6pm: Shop up to 70% Off Sale

Coach: Up to 50% Off Shoe Sale

DSW: Up to 50% off + FS on $35+ w/ Code SHIPR [Exp. 7/23]

Famous Footwear: Up to 83% Off Sale

Finishline: $10 Off $75 or More w/ Code: DEALPLUS10 [Exp. 6/30]

Foot Locker: $20 Off $120+ w/ Code: LKS1CP3N [Exp. 7/31]

Nike: Save Up to 75% Off Last Chance Items

Puma: Sale Up to 50% Off + Free Shipping

Reebok: Up to 50% Off Shoes, Clothing, & Accessories

Shoebuy.com: 20% Off Sitewide w/ Code: EMLHAPPYFOURTH12 [Exp. 7/4]

Gifts & Other:

Bass Pro Shops: Shop the 4th of July Sale

Build-A-Bear: $5 Off Purchase of $25+ with code: 98719 [Exp. 7/4]

Groupon: July 4th Deals & Savings

Oriental Trading: 4th of July Party Supplies

ProFlowers: 15% Off Any Purchase or 20% Off $29 or more

Snapfish: 25% Off All Photobooks (No Code Necessary) [Exp. 8/31]

Shutterly: Special Offers on Prints, Cards, & Photobooks + Free Shipping on $30+ w/ Code: SHIP30 [Exp. 8/3]

Staples: $10 Off $50 or More w/ Printable Coupon [Exp. 6/29]

Walmart: Shop their clearance event! Items start at $2

Travel:

Cheapoair: Up to 65% off flights + Extra $15 Off w/ Code: SUMMER15 [Exp 7/31]

Enterprise: Everyday Low Rates on all cars from Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Hotels.com: 30% Off 4th of July Hotel Stay

Orbitz: Save 15% Off w/ code: “SPF#15” [Book by July 7, No Blackout Dates]

Motel 6: Save 10% at Motel 6 w/ Code: CP570349 [Exp. 9/15]

Priceline: Great Travel Deals for 4th of July

Southwest: Vacation Deals!

Travel Zoo: America On Sale – Up to 65% Savings

Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev initially planned to attack Boston’s 4th of July Independence Day celebrations, US media have reported.

But they finished making the bombs more quickly than expected at Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s home, anonymous US officials are quoted as saying.

It is unclear if they planned to target a specific event, but Boston hosts major 4th of July festivities each year.

Meanwhile, the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been claimed by family.

A spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety confirmed a funeral home hired by his relatives picked up the remains on Thursday.

The suspect’s widow, Katherine Russell, gave consent a day earlier for the body to be released.

Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev initially planned to attack Boston's 4th of July Independence Day celebrations

Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev initially planned to attack Boston’s 4th of July Independence Day celebrations

His uncle Ruslan Tsarni, who lives in the state of Maryland, said on Tuesday night the family would take the remains.

The medical examiner has said Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s cause of death has been determined, but the information will not be released until a death certificate has been filed. It was unclear if that had happened on Thursday evening.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died after a gun battle with police during which he was run over by his younger brother as he fled the scene in a vehicle, police have said.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who was later captured and is recovering in a prison hospital from gunshot wounds, reportedly told FBI investigators of the plan for a 4th of July attack.

He also told interrogators that the two of them had initially considered suicide attacks, the New York Times reports.

Instead Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev decided to use pressure-cookers to make the two bombs they allegedly detonated on April 15 near the Boston Marathon finish line, killing three people and wounding 264.

Also according to the newspaper, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told investigators he and his brother had listened to internet sermons by Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born al-Qaeda suspect killed in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev faces a possible death sentence if convicted for his alleged role in the Boston attack.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev lived with his wife, Katherine Russell, and their three-year-old daughter, Zahara, in an apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Police have said they found bomb material at the residence.

The FBI has removed evidence, including DNA samples, from the Rhode Island home of Katherine Russell’s parents, where she has been staying since her husband’s death.

Katherine Russell’s lawyers say she did not know much about her husband’s activities because she spent most of her time outside the home working as a health aide while he watched their child.

Three of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s college friends appeared in court on Wednesday, accused of obstructing the police investigation into the attacks.

Police say Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev – both from Kazakhstan – threw away the suspect’s backpack after realizing he was one of the bombers.

Robel Phillipos, a US citizen, is accused of lying to investigators.

The backpack was recovered at a landfill site. A lawyer for Dias Kadyrbayev told CNN his client had turned over the laptop to the FBI, but did not specify when.

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Americans celebrated 236 years of independence in spectacular style on Wednesday with dazzling displays of fireworks held across the country.

Though many of the festivities were cancelled or scaled down due to weather-related power outages and wildfire concerns, it was business as usual in New York as the Manhattan skyline was lit up to the delight of the thousands who lined the streets and millions watching at home.

Despite a day-long heat warning, thousands of revelers flocked to Manhattan’s west side to view the incredible Macy’s fireworks display, where a feat of pyrotechnics erupted over the Hudson River.

Meanwhile, millions at home watched Katy Perry giving a star-spangled performance in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, donning her uniform of a purple ponytail and an American flag mini-dress and singing the aptly named hit Firework. Country music sensation Kenny Chesney also performed.

Both performances were pre-recorded so as to avoid any snafus with inclement weather. The night’s events were MC’d by none other than Regis Philbin, who has been in retirement from Live With Regis and Kelly.

Crowds lined up early in the day along FDR Drive on Manhattan’s west side, despite a heat advisory and the promise of thunderstorms. But the weather held fast, and by sundown, temperatures were down to a cooler 86 degrees.

Americans celebrated 236 years of independence in spectacular style on Wednesday with dazzling displays of fireworks held across the country

Americans celebrated 236 years of independence in spectacular style on Wednesday with dazzling displays of fireworks held across the country

Viewers along 12th Avenue witnessed as 40,000 fireworks in 15 dazzling colors and 30 separate shapes filled the sky in the half-hour spectacular.

But the storms had to go somewhere, and headed north to Boston. According to CBS Boston, the Esplanade was evacuated during the annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular due to severe thunderstorms.

Jennifer Hudson was among those performing. The station notes that people were evacuated right before the 1812 Overture.

Hundreds of thousands from the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic are spending the Fourth of July like America’s founders did in 1776: Without the conveniences of electricity and air conditioning.

Fireworks on the National Mall in Washington are planned to go forward, and in New York City, huge crowds lined the Hudson River to view the 36th annual Macy’s fireworks show.

Katy Perry giving a star-spangled performance in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, donning her uniform of a purple ponytail and an American flag mini-dress

Katy Perry giving a star-spangled performance in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, donning her uniform of a purple ponytail and an American flag mini-dress

In the nation’s capital, fireworks began shortly after 9:00 p.m. on the West Lawn. Entertainment was provided by Matthew Broderick, who performed two songs from the Broadway musical Nice Work If You Can Get It with Tony-nominated actress Keli O’Hara.

It was a mix of pop and classical in Washington, as the National Symphony Orchestra entertained with American classics like Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture with live cannon fire.

In Philadelphia, a dazzling fireworks show followed a 5,000-participant parade.

Singer Lauryn Hill performed days after pleading guilty to tax evasion, and the Roots also gave a rousing performance. Also performing were Queen Latifah, Common, and Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers.

Following the performances, fireworks were launched over the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

President Barack Obama marked the Fourth of July by thanking service members and their families, who he said “represent what is best in America”.

The president, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, hosted a barbecue and concert Wednesday for the families on the White House South Lawn.

Barack Obama saluted “this generation of heroes” for their service and sacrifice to defend American freedoms, specifically thanking them for bringing Osama bin Laden to justice and working to get out of Afghanistan.

He said the nation “will always be there for you, just as you’ve been there for us”. He said it was his promise, and America’s promise.

Afterward, the Obamas shook hands and posed for pictures with eager visitors. The U.S. Marine Band and country singer Brad Paisley performed.

Presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has spent most of the week off the campaign trail with his family in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, but took time Wednesday to march in the town’s Fourth of July parade.

He was joined by his wife Ann; the two of them were seen participating in the parade, riding in trolleys, and greeting the crowds.

The former Massachusetts governor has been on vacation at his lake house -estimated to be worth over $10million – for the better part of the week.

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A massive solar flare is expected on 4th of July, the day in which America celebrates its independence.

According to reports at 10:52 UT the sun’s active region AR1515 released a M5.6-class solar flare towards Earth, sending X-ray and extreme ultraviolet radiation in our direction.

Discovery revealed that the flare was almost strong enough to become an X-class flare, the most powerful variety of solar eruption.

The sun’s active region AR1515 released a M5.6-class solar flare towards Earth, sending X-ray and extreme ultraviolet radiation in our direction

The sun’s active region AR1515 released a M5.6-class solar flare towards Earth, sending X-ray and extreme ultraviolet radiation in our direction

While the solar flare is not harmful to humans on the ground it does wreak havoc on the upper atmosphere by sending ionization waves through the ionosphere, in some cases causing disruptions to global communications.

The solar flare according to Spaceweather.com was discovered by Rob Stemmes of the Polar Light Center in Lofoten, Norway. A powerful SID was witnessed over Europe only a short time after the flare erupted from the sun.

Solar flares have been around for as long as the sun and happen in cycles along the sun’s photosphere (solar surface).

Space.com reports that this first solar flare is just the start of what is expected to be a solar storm that reaches well into Fourth of July festivities.

With a wave of plasma expected to Earth by Independence Day it looks like there will be more in our skies than just fireworks and if we could actually see the solar flare show with our own eyes, well we would go blind but before that we would stare in amazement at mother nature’s own massive fireworks display.