By Maria Rocha-Buschel
With the mercury expected to rise into the high 80s for the next few days, the July 4th holiday is looking to be a scorcher, but at least residents on the East Side will be getting a good view of the annual fireworks display.
Fireworks will be shot off from seven barges in the East River for a 25-minute show beginning at 9:30 p.m. The 42nd annual celebration will feature a score performed by the West Point Band and in honor of the 100th anniversary of Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” pop star Kelly Clarkson will perform the song at the climax of the fireworks display. The West Point Glee Club as well as the band will accompany Clarkson’s performance.
The score for the fireworks will also include the national anthem and in honor of the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, a medley of his classical music compositions, performed by the glee club and band. The performances will be on NBC starting at 8 p.m. and will only be viewable by the public through the broadcast, but the music will be audible for spectators watching the fireworks.
The fireworks performance this year includes more than 75,000 shells, making it the largest display since the millennial celebration in 2000.
Official viewing points for the fireworks in the Gramercy/Kips Bay area include 18th Street, 23rd Street and 34th Street and these spots, as well as the other official viewing points in Manhattan, are on the elevated portions of the FDR.
Those looking to view the fireworks from the 18th Street location can enter via 20th or 23rd Street and watch the show from the southbound lane of the FDR. This spot has been designated as an ADA/special needs viewing area and is wheelchair-accessible. Viewers heading to the 23rd Street location can watch the fireworks from the FDR via a pedestrian ramp and the 34th Street location on the FDR is almost right in front of the barges.
The viewing lanes along the FDR will be opened to the public around 7 p.m. and spectators are asked not to bring lawn chairs or outdoor furniture. The subway will be running on a Saturday schedule for the holiday.
StuyTown Property Services said in a recent newsletter that the FDR, Avenue C (14th to 23rd Streets), 14th, 20th and 23rd Streets between First Avenue and Avenue C will be closed to traffic and the NYPD will announce more specific details about closure times closer to the holiday. Rooftop access in STPCV will not be allowed and Public Safety along with the NYPD will occupy most rooftops to enforce the rule.
Macy’s, which sponsors the fireworks show, also noted on the official website for the event that accessible blocks will also likely be closed throughout the evening as crowds build and spectators will be redirected to different access points along the FDR Drive.
In addition to the free options for watching the fireworks at different spots along the East River, a handful of local businesses are hosting parties and barbecues for the occasion, complete with food and drinks included in the cost of admission.
Solar One is hosting a barbecue and fireworks viewing party with East Village German restaurant Zum Schneider at Stuyvesant Cove Park, with tickets costing $44. There will be a DJ and food options include hot dogs, bratwursts and various sides like corn on the cob and potato salad. Backpacks and outside food or drinks are not allowed. Doors open at 5 p.m. Tickets are available online.
On the even higher end of the paid events is Riverpark’s 4th of July party, with tickets costing $275. Tom Colicchio’s restaurant at 450 East 29th Street at First Avenue offers unobstructed views of the fireworks and various stations of barbecue, with an open bar. More information is available on the website.