America bounces back from COVID: Magnificent July 4 fireworks fill the sky over NYC for the Big Apple's biggest EVER display, while LA is lit up and DC enjoys a 25 minute National Mall spectacular

 Sixty-five thousand shells on five barges sitting in New York's East River blasted off fireworks of red, white and blue into the night sky on Sunday night wowing audiences watching the spectacular display - the city's biggest ever - both in person and on television.

At least 50 pyrotechnicians had spent days loading the shells before the fuses were lit at 9.25pm as Americans marked their nation's 245th birthday.

Tens of thousands of people gathered along the city's East River in the boroughs of Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn in order to catch a glimpse of the impressive show.

As always, fireworks displays are the highlight of the July Fourth holiday, but the displays this year were seen as being extra special after the pandemic forced the cancellation of most of them in 2020. 

New York City

In New York City, the traditional Macy's Fourth of July fireworks show returned in full form with a display over the East River, as shells were shot from five barges in a televised, choreographed spectacle.

The display also saw fireworks launched from the top of the Empire State Building with the organizers saying the spectacular show was to 'pay tribute to everyday heroes'. 

The show was broadcast live on NBC as part of a two-hour special featuring artists including the Black Pumas, Coldplay, OneRepublic and Reba McEntire. 

At the display's most spectacular moment, thousands of golden-hued shells created a dramatic cascade effect 1,000-feet in the air and more than a mile wide across the East River.  

Lighting up the night's sky not only delighted crowds but restored lifelines this year for the businesses that supply the 16,000 July Fourth fireworks displays across the country. 

Last year, only a few went on with the show but this year, crowds were welcome to gather. The exuberant displays left some complaining about excessive smoke hanging over the city in the early hours.  

The Empire State Building was seen ablaze in color as pyrotechnics blasted from the 102nd floor

The Empire State Building was seen ablaze in color as pyrotechnics blasted from the 102nd floor

The Statue of Liberty can be seen serenaded by fireworks in New York City's firework display

The Statue of Liberty can be seen serenaded by fireworks in New York City's firework display

Fireworks explode over the Empire State Building and the Manhattan skyline for the annual Macy's 4th of July Fireworks

Fireworks explode over the Empire State Building and the Manhattan skyline for the annual Macy's 4th of July Fireworks

A view of the fireworks during the Edge at Hudson Yard's 4th of July Celebration at Edge at Hudson Yards

A view of the fireworks during the Edge at Hudson Yard's 4th of July Celebration at Edge at Hudson Yards

A view of the fireworks during the Edge at Hudson Yard's 4th of July sees fireworks in Jersey City, New Jersey

A view of the fireworks during the Edge at Hudson Yard's 4th of July sees fireworks in Jersey City, New Jersey

A view of the fireworks during the Edge at Hudson Yard's 4th of July Celebration at Edge at Hudson Yards on the west side of Manhattan

A view of the fireworks during the Edge at Hudson Yard's 4th of July Celebration at Edge at Hudson Yards on the west side of Manhattan

The performers' appearances were pre-recorded around the country in front of live audiences.

Last year, because of pandemic restrictions, there were a series of shorter fireworks shows in the days leading up to the holiday, with the locations kept secret in advance to keep people from congregating.

'It's hugely significant because we're all back together again. We were apart for so long,' said Mike Marrone, who took in the fireworks among a throng of onlookers along the FDR Drive.

Other revelers expressed a mix of joy and apprehension, noting the coronavirus remains far from vanquished. Slightly more than half of the city's population is fully vaccinated, according to the city health department, but many spectators were masked.

'This is a refreshing relief for me. It gives us a sense of being out and being free,' said Richard Armstrong, a retired police lieutenant who quarantined for months and, before Sunday, hadn´t photographed any fireworks in three years.

'I'm always glad to be above ground,' he quipped, 'but as I look around, I can't tell who is vaxxed and who isn't.'

Landmarks around the state, from the World Trade Center's centerpiece tower and the Empire State Building to Niagara Falls, were lit in red, white and blue to mark Independence Day.

'If the last 16 months has reaffirmed anything, it's how precious life is and how vital liberty is to our identity as New Yorkers and Americans,' New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

Melanie Delcourt, meanwhile, celebrated her first Fourth of July since moving to the U.S. eight months ago from Paris.

'It's just so beautiful,' she said of the gatherings. 'We'll remember this for a long time.'

Spectators watch from the Queens borough of New York as fireworks are launched over the East River and the Empire State Building

Spectators watch from the Queens borough of New York as fireworks are launched over the East River and the Empire State Building

Red, white and blue fireworks filled the skies over the East River of Manhattan

Red, white and blue fireworks filled the skies over the East River of Manhattan

Spectators watch as fireworks are launched over the East River and the Empire State Building

Spectators watch as fireworks are launched over the East River and the Empire State Building

Spectators watch as fireworks are launched over the East River and the Empire State Building

Spectators watch as fireworks are launched over the East River and the Empire State Building 

People watch as fireworks are launched from the Empire State Building as part of the annual Macy's 4th of July Fireworks

People watch as fireworks are launched from the Empire State Building as part of the annual Macy's 4th of July Fireworks

Fireworks explode over the Empire State Building and the Manhattan skyline during the biggest display in New York's history

Fireworks explode over the Empire State Building and the Manhattan skyline during the biggest display in New York's history

Spectators watch fireworks explode during the 45th annual Macy's 4th of July Fireworks overlooking the Manhattan skyline

Spectators watch fireworks explode during the 45th annual Macy's 4th of July Fireworks overlooking the Manhattan skyline

America bounces back from COVID: Magnificent July 4 fireworks fill the sky over NYC for the Big Apple's biggest EVER display, while LA is lit up and DC enjoys a 25 minute National Mall spectacular America bounces back from COVID: Magnificent July 4 fireworks fill the sky over NYC for the Big Apple's biggest EVER display, while LA is lit up and DC enjoys a 25 minute National Mall spectacular Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 08:09 Rating: 5

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