America Celebrates Independence Day

4th of July parade CBS

To the stirring strains of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" or framed against the Manhattan skyline, in small towns and big cities from coast to coast, America commemorated its independence Tuesday by lighting up the night.

In New York City, 150 tons of explosives fueled the nation's most spectacular fireworks display.

The rockets' red-white-and-blue glare exploded in an extravaganza that capped off OpSail 2000's daytime parade of tall ships and naval vessels.

Fireworks lit up the sky all around Manhattan's edges, creating dramatic, fiery displays against the glamorous backdrop of the city skyline.

In the Washington, D.C., Ray Charles sang as pyrotechnics lighted the tip of the Washington Monument.

CBS News Correspondent Russ Mitchell reports the ways in which Independence Day was celebrated were as diverse as the nation itself.

In business suits, saris and checked sundresses, 84 people from 27 countries stood on the steps of Monticello Tuesday and became United States citizens.

The new Americans who took the oath of citizenship during the annual Independence Day ceremony at Thomas Jefferson's home included a Bolivian fisherman, an educator from Pakistan and a Chinese biologist, among others.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who spoke at the ceremony, said they reminded her of the fears she felt when she came to the United States from Czechoslovakia at age 11.

"It never occurred to me that I would be secretary of state and have Thomas Jefferson's job," Albright told the crowd of about 1,500.

Up north in Boston, a small group of Hawaiians mourned the loss of their islands' independence.

Blowing conch shell horns, about two dozen Native Hawaiians and their supporters gathered where American colonists threw British tea into the Boston Harbor in 1773 to protest colonial rule. The Hawaiians threw garlands of the Hawaiian plant Ti—also pronounced "tea"—into the harbor.

The group hoped to draw attention to the United States' 1893 takeover of the eleven Hawaiian Islands.

In Irving, Texas, every house in the University Hills neighborhood had at least one flag on its lawn after neighbors pitched in to buy 1,000 flags. The neighbors' efforts reward the longtime ritual of Nell Anne Hunt, who for years has planted her own flags in as many neighbors' yards as she can.

Cadillac, Michigan started the day with a colorful sky spectacular that did not include fireworks, as dozens of hot-air balloons ascended together.

Music was the main event in Austin, Texas, at Willie Nelson's annual 4th of July picnic.

Food was the thing on the Windy City's lakeshore, at the annual Taste of Chicago festival.

At Disney World in Florida, true patriots consumed a giant one and a half-ton American Flag cobbler.

And at Coney Island in Brooklyn, a hundred-pound Japanese tourist gobbled 25 hot dogs in 12 minutes to win a contest.

But in Atlanta, the hottest dogs werin running shoes, melting off those holiday calories at an annual 10K run.

In Des Moines, it was an old fashioned Fourth with kids and bikes and homemade floats and family picnics.

Arlington, Texas, had vintage cars on parade, and of course some horse rides.
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Small-town America provided plenty of patriotism, like the parade in Morrisville, Vermont, population, 1900.

In Philadelphia, site of the original 4th of July, they heard Thomas Jefferson's immortal words during a reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Earlier in the day, More than 180 tall ships from around the world sailed through New York Harbor for a weeklong July Fourth maritime festival known as Opsail 2000.

In Rye, N.H., it was the annual frog-jumping contest. It had been cancelled, then revived by an outcry a few weeks ago. The contest in the community of 5,000 began in 1975. It has its roots in the 1865 Mark Twain story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.

Initially, the town selectmen cited cruelty to frogs, but reversed themselves when the children promised not to catch the frogs until just before the contest. They cannot use anything to prod the frogs. The frogs must be kept in buckets with water, out of direct sunlight and returned to the exact location from which they were taken immediately after the race.

In the White Mountains of New Hampshire, two paraplegic men using hand-cycles planned to carry a torch from the top of Mount Washington to Laconia to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Doug Ewing and Karl Barnard's trip would take them on their 62-mile trek from the 6,288-foot peak to the site of the former Laconia State School, which used to house people with mental retardation.

U.S. Senate candidate Willie Logan rode the final leg of a statewide motorcycle trip that started May 8th by riding in the Key Largo Independence Day parade. His trek has spanned 1,000 miles along the path walked by the late Lawton Chiles when he ran for U.S. Senate 30 years ago.

Students in Calexico, Cal. finally got their independence. After years of attending summer school on the Fourth of July -- the superintendent canceled classes for the day. Holding classes on the holiday s a violation of the state Education Code.



©2000 CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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