Spectacular Showcase: Behind Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks Display

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James Devaney / WireImage

A view from 42nd St of the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks on July 4, 2010 in New York City

For 35 years, the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks display has been hailed as one of the largest and most extravagant Independence Day traditions, and tonight will be no exception.

In this year’s showcase – set to take place promptly at 9:20 pm EST and televised on NBC — more than 40,000 shells will light up the night sky 1,000 feet above the Hudson River for a stretch of two miles. The 25-minute display is themed “Gift of Freedom,” and will feature a mix of popular and classic musical performances and serve as a salute to the 125th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, which stands in New York Harbor and is a symbol of American independence.

More than 3 million people are expected to watch the show, and according to CBS News in New York, producers from both Macy’s and SOUSA Fireworks have been working out details for weeks.

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But while the showcase is always celebratory, on the East side of the island, residents still feel resentful of the event’s move from the East River to the Hudson three years ago. Originally billed as a one-time move to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s landing in Manhattan, Macy’s and event producers decided to stay on the west side after an attempt to host this year’s festivities in the Harbor near the Statue of Liberty fell through earlier this year.

All told, it’s more of a homecoming than an attempt to rob east-siders — and Queens and Brooklyn residents — of the best seats in the house. The Macy’s fireworks display actually debuted on the Hudson in 1958 before becoming an East River tradition in 1976. But that hasn’t stopped New York politicans and residents from charging that deploying the lights on the west side robs the city of much-needed economic stimulation.

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“As it stands, the celebrants with the best views will once again be residents of New Jersey and the west side of Manhattan, excluding a large part of the city in which Macy’s has its flagship store,” Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn borough president, recently told the New York Times.

Regardless of an east side vs. west side confrontation, this year’s celebration is certain to be a beautifully executed experience, as we look forward to hearing Katy Perry perform “Firework” overlapping the clap of the song’s namesake.

—With reporting by Nick Carbone

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