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5 Ways to Celebrate July 4th in New York City

New York City Insider Guides
by Julie Schwietert Jul 4, 2010
Last year, I made the mistake of “doing” the Macy’s Annual Fireworks Show.

I WAS HUGELY PREGNANT, and I waddled toward the West Side Highway, hoping someone would feel sorry for me and share their patch of grass in the Hudson River Park. No such luck, though; by 6, the police had already closed access to the park. I was relegated to a standing only section of the street near 9th Avenue, where I could only tell fireworks were going off by their sound.

Never again.

If you’re still convinced the Macy’s show is the way to go, then the strange combination of Justin Bieber, Enrique Iglesias, The New York Pops Orchestra, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir should send you running in the opposite direction.

Here are a few alternatives to the fireworks:

1. Rosanne Cash concert on Governors Island.

The Rosanne Cash concert is just one of several special events scheduled to take place on Governors Island on the 4th. If the music doesn’t interest you, you can ride a bike around the island. Make sure you take an earlier ferry; Governors Island is getting increasingly popular and lines are longer and longer every time I head over there.

2. Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Though major contender Takeru Kobayashi will sit out this year’s event due to a contractual conflict, the show will go on in Coney Island. This is the 94th year of the hot dog eating contest, which will start at noon. Get there early — this contest is strangely popular; last year, police estimated the crowd to have topped 40,000.

Hot dogs downed in 10 minutes? 68.

3. Red, White, & Brews 4th of July Bash at Long Island City’s Water Taxi Beach.

It’s free. There’s beer. And live music and DJ sets all day — from 1PM until 1AM (but no fireworks, as far as we know).

4. Staten Island’s Independence Day Parade

Uncle Sam on stilts, sno-cones, and musical performances are all part of the Staten Island parade, which steps off at 12:30.

5. Declaration of Independence Exhibit at The New York Public Library

If you’re feeling contemplative (or if you just want to get inside for some air conditioning — it’s supposed to top 94 degrees today), visit the main branch of the NYPL on Fifth Avenue to view a copy of the Declaration of Independence that was written in Thomas Jefferson’s hand. The exhibit is open from 1-5PM.

And if you’re unable to imagine the 4th without fireworks, then you can test your luck at these places:

*Ink48 Hotel’s Press Bar, a rooftop bar with views of the Hudson. Tickets are costly and are likely to be in short supply.

*The Empire State Building closes to regular visitors from 8-10:30PM, opening the 86th-floor observation deck for guests with special July 4th tickets.

*Anywhere along JFK Boulevard in Weehawken, New Jersey. This street runs right along the Jersey side of the Hudson River. Expect crowds, especially since Jersey canceled its biggest fireworks shindig.

Community Connection:

Planning a last minute party? Read How to Green Your 4th of July Party for ideas about an environmentally friendly celebration.

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