Americans celebrated their nation's 214th birthday with a special zest in a year when the very word "independence" has taken on new meaning worldwide.
"It's a very sensitive moment for me and very exciting," said Adal Rizk, a native Egyptian who was sworn in Wednesday as a U.S. citizen with 471 other immigrants in a Seattle ceremony. "My dream came true. It's my biggest day."Traditional parades, fireworks and family barbeques vied for attention Wednesday with non-traditional commemorations, such as a cookout for the homeless in Washington, D.C.
Eager families began gathering by 6 a.m. for Boston's celebration, the annual evening Boston Pops concert along the Charles River, capped by a 20-minute finale and two tons of fireworks.
Flocks of picnickers amassed on and around the Mall in Washington, D.C., for a day of festivities, starting with a noon parade along Constitution Avenue and topped off by a grand display of fireworks over the Lincoln Memorial, visible for miles around.
Nearby, Luther Place Church, a few blocks from the White House, staged a Fourth of July cookout for the homeless who live in a complex of group homes and shelters in the area.
Eastern Europeans experiencing their first Fourth of July free of domination by the Soviet Union joined in America's celebrations. In suburban New York, 14 East European journalists were offered a taste of Independence Day in small-town U.S.A.
The guests, high-ranking editors from Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and East Germany, are in the New York area for 10-week internships with major American magazines, said Ruth Whitney, who hosted the party in Irvington, N.Y.
"We're having hamburgers, potato salad, ice cream, beer and wine - the usual - and they're all bringing Frisbees," Whitney said. After a barbeque next to Whitney's backyard pool, the group watched the annual Irvington fireworks display at a park next to the Hudson River.