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Macy's July 4 fireworks event returns to in-person viewing in New York City

Nation takes steps toward normalcy as COVID cases fall
Nation takes steps toward normalcy as COVID cases fall 02:10

Macy's will host its annual Independence Day fireworks celebration in New York City next month, marking another sign that American life is returning to some sort of normal as local COVID restrictions are relaxed across the nation. 

Macy's has organized a fireworks celebration every July 4 since 1976, but this year's event will feature the largest pyrotechnics display ever, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday during a press conference. The clothing retailer said Thursday it plans to launch more than 65,000 firework shells from five barges for New York residents and a nationally televised audience at 9:25 p.m. on July 4.

"Because people got vaccinated on such an extraordinary scale, it allows us to have many, many people in attendance," de Blasio said.

Macy's employees are excited to use the 25-minute fireworks show as the retailer's unofficial kick-off to summer 2021, said Will Coss, executive producer of the event.

Coss and other event organizers have created viewing areas for people who have been COVID-19 vaccinated and for the non-vaccinated. For the vaccinated, the viewing area will be along the Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive in Manhattan, where spectators will be allowed to watch without wearing masks or social distancing themselves. Non-vaccinated viewers will be directed to the waterfronts in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. Macy's hasn't said whether those participants will need to wear a mask. 

The Macy's fireworks is one of many large-crowd events that cities have green-lit after watching vaccination rates rise nationwide and new COVID cases fall. More than 135,000 fans watched the Indianapolis 500 in person last month, for instance. In Chicago, the Lollapalooza Festival is slated to be in-person next month. The Texas State Fair, scheduled for September in Dallas, will also be in-person.

New York's fireworks event is returning to its normal format this year after using a method last year that drew a little controversy. Macy's sporadically blasted off fireworks at different times in different boroughs every day leading up to July 4 last year. The company said it did so to prevent large crowds from gathering during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Some residents said that method was insensitive to military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. 

"Last year we had to do it in a very different way," de Blasio said. "It was great, but it was not that same extravaganza we're used to."

The event will also feature musical performances by Black Pumas, Coldplay, OneRepublic and Reba McEntire. There will be another fireworks display in Coney Island Brooklyn following the Macy's event, Mayor de Blasio said. 

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