Max Suzuki participates in Nathan’s Famous International Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest weigh-in at the Empire State Building on Tuesday, July 3, 2018, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

On July 4, Americans celebrate their union, rue divisions

From New York to New Mexico, July Fourth events will celebrate what Americans have in common.

Americans are marking Independence Day with parades, fireworks and, for some, a renewed sense of pride in their 242-year-old nation. For others, a sense of a United States divided weighs heavy on its quintessential holiday.

From New York to New Mexico, July Fourth events will celebrate what Americans have in common. Festivities are as elaborate as Macy’s July Fourth fireworks show, as gulp-worthy as Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest and as easygoing as backyard barbecues. But in a country roiled with debate over what it means to be an American, there are even competing televised Independence Day events in the nation’s capital.

The country’s longest-running live national July Fourth TV tradition — PBS’ broadcast of music and fireworks from the U.S. Capitol’s West Lawn — is facing new counterprogramming from the White House, which is hosting its own concert and view of the National Park Service’s fireworks show. Both shows feature different “American Idol” alums.

First lady Melania Trump said in a statement that the White House show would allow Americans to “tune in from their homes and be part of the festivities.” PBS declined to comment.

In New York, the Macy’s fireworks show over the East River promises 25 minutes of sparkle and “ahhhh,” plus the West Point Band and entertainers including Kelly Clarkson, Ricky Martin and Keith Urban on NBC’s broadcast. Earlier, competitive-eating titans will face off at Nathan’s Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest on Coney Island, televised by ESPN.

Meanwhile, some communities in the American West have cancelled their planned July Fourth fireworks because of high wildfire danger, and some others are doing drone light displays instead of pyrotechnics. But fireworks shows will go ahead in such places as Denver and Colorado Springs.

In Boston, the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular features singer-songwriter Rachel Platten, the Indigo Girls, Rhiannon Giddens and Broadway legend Rita Moreno. It’s televised on local station WHDH-TV and streamed on several sites.

Related: FBI arrest man in alleged July 4 attack plan in Cleveland

Related: Trudeau, NATO leaders gearing up for defence spending debate with Trump

In another July Fourth tradition, new U.S. citizens will be sworn in at locales around the country.

They’ll pledge allegiance to a country where some people lament that the ability to debate respectfully the toughest issues of the day seems hopelessly lost. For Brad Messier, a chef in Portland, Maine, the holiday “seems to illustrate the glaring divides that we have.”

“How much does going and seeing fireworks really bring people together?” he asks.

But in rural Shelby County, Alabama, retired truck driver Floyd Champion views these as the best of times in America.

“I love the holiday because it’s our independence,” he said.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

UPDATE: Red Deer RCMP arrest man involved in fatal hit and run

RCMP flew to Nipawin, Sask. to arrest Tosh Vertraeten

Pop Evil hits the stage at Bo’s Nov. 25th

Acclaimed band is touring in support of self-titled disc released early this year

Oh What a Night! celebrates iconic American legends

Frankie Valli and Andy Williams honoured during Red Deer show

Red Deer Lights the Night gets residents into the holiday spirit

Free winter festival is on Saturday, Nov. 17th from 4 to 7 p.m.

First Nation marks ‘milestone’ land deal at Alberta ceremony

Lubicon Lake First Nation Chief Billy-Joe Laboucan signed treaty last month

Canfor to buy 70 per cent stake in Swedish Vida Group for $580 million

The privately held company has nine sawmills in southern Sweden with an annual production capacity of 1.1 billion board feet.

Saudi prosecutor seeks death penalty in Khashoggi’s killing

Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor is recommending the death penalty for five suspects charged with ordering and carrying out the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Mixing business and family: Trudeau turns to Singapore ancestors to widen trade

Trudeau’s ancestor, Esther Bernard, born Farquhar (1796-1838) was the daughter of Major-General William Farquhar (1774-1839), the first British Resident and Commandant of Singapore.

Baloney Meter: Will tougher penalties for gang members make Canada safer?

Since 2013, gang-related homicides in Canada’s largest cities have almost doubled

Early data suggests no spike in pot-impaired driving after legalization: police

Some departments said it’s too early to provide data, others said initial numbers suggest stoned driving isn’t on the rise

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

Most Read