Max Suzuki participates in Nathan’s Famous International Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest weigh-in at the Empire State Building on Tuesday, July 3, 2018, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

On July 4, Americans celebrate their union, rue divisions

From New York to New Mexico, July Fourth events will celebrate what Americans have in common.

Americans are marking Independence Day with parades, fireworks and, for some, a renewed sense of pride in their 242-year-old nation. For others, a sense of a United States divided weighs heavy on its quintessential holiday.

From New York to New Mexico, July Fourth events will celebrate what Americans have in common. Festivities are as elaborate as Macy’s July Fourth fireworks show, as gulp-worthy as Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest and as easygoing as backyard barbecues. But in a country roiled with debate over what it means to be an American, there are even competing televised Independence Day events in the nation’s capital.

The country’s longest-running live national July Fourth TV tradition — PBS’ broadcast of music and fireworks from the U.S. Capitol’s West Lawn — is facing new counterprogramming from the White House, which is hosting its own concert and view of the National Park Service’s fireworks show. Both shows feature different “American Idol” alums.

First lady Melania Trump said in a statement that the White House show would allow Americans to “tune in from their homes and be part of the festivities.” PBS declined to comment.

In New York, the Macy’s fireworks show over the East River promises 25 minutes of sparkle and “ahhhh,” plus the West Point Band and entertainers including Kelly Clarkson, Ricky Martin and Keith Urban on NBC’s broadcast. Earlier, competitive-eating titans will face off at Nathan’s Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest on Coney Island, televised by ESPN.

Meanwhile, some communities in the American West have cancelled their planned July Fourth fireworks because of high wildfire danger, and some others are doing drone light displays instead of pyrotechnics. But fireworks shows will go ahead in such places as Denver and Colorado Springs.

In Boston, the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular features singer-songwriter Rachel Platten, the Indigo Girls, Rhiannon Giddens and Broadway legend Rita Moreno. It’s televised on local station WHDH-TV and streamed on several sites.

Related: FBI arrest man in alleged July 4 attack plan in Cleveland

Related: Trudeau, NATO leaders gearing up for defence spending debate with Trump

In another July Fourth tradition, new U.S. citizens will be sworn in at locales around the country.

They’ll pledge allegiance to a country where some people lament that the ability to debate respectfully the toughest issues of the day seems hopelessly lost. For Brad Messier, a chef in Portland, Maine, the holiday “seems to illustrate the glaring divides that we have.”

“How much does going and seeing fireworks really bring people together?” he asks.

But in rural Shelby County, Alabama, retired truck driver Floyd Champion views these as the best of times in America.

“I love the holiday because it’s our independence,” he said.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Let the Games begin!

Team Alberta takes home gold and silver in speed skating on day one

WATCH: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony features athletes from across Canada

Athletes’ medals unveiled at the official kick-off of 2019 Canada Winter Games

Medals depict Central Alberta landscape and pay tribute to First Nations

WATCH: Canada Winter Games are finally here

Final leg of torch relay kicked off at Fort Normandeau

Furever Ours dance coming to Botha

Tickets still left for “Furever Ours” dine and dance

‘Just like Iron Man’: Calgary surgeon undergoes experimental spinal surgery

Dr. Richi Gill was in a freak accident on a boogie board during a family vacation in Hawaii

Deported B.C. man who came to Canada as a baby granted chance at return

Lee Van Heest was deported to the Netherlands in 2017

Sex abuse survivors to meet with Vatican summit organizers

Pope Francis has urged participants to meet with abuse victims before they came to Rome

Ex-FBI official: ‘Crime may have been committed’ by Trump

Andrew McCabe said FBI had good reason to open a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was in league with Russia

Team Alberta adds nine medals on day two of competition at Canada Winter Games

Team Alberta had a solid day at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

New round of consultations with Indigenous communities is coming

PHOTOS: Canada Games action from the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre

Wheelchair basketball, short-track speedskating draw large crowds

Most Read