Entries in fourth of july (7)


Fireworks Danger Outweighs Fourth of July Fun

John White Photos/Flickr/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It’s like a pilgrimage. Families in states where fireworks are strictly regulated make the long trek to giant stores on the other side of state lines in order to buy products where they don’t ask questions.

“We do this every year,” Crystal Leatherbury, who lives in Atlanta, told ABC News. “We make a family trip up.”

The “trip up” is to Lake Hartwell, S.C., just north of the Georgia line.

Every year, fireworks cause 18,000 fires, resulting in $32 million worth of property damage and 8,000 visits to the emergency room, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

That’s why four states — Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York — ban them altogether. But there are still more than a dozen states that allow the biggest aerial fireworks to be sold.

“I believe there should be a designated shooter just like you have a designated driver on Saturday night,” said William Weimer of Phantom Fireworks, the Youngstown, Ohio, company that has 1,200 outlets around the country.

This year, one of the hottest items is The Excalibur, a firework with a blast radius the size of a basketball court. It’s the kind of firework people will drive for hours to obtain, knowing full well they’ll be breaking the law once they return home with their newly acquired explosive.

“It’s not the Fourth of July without fireworks,” Sabir Mohammad said.

But authorities disagree, and this year they are cracking down.

“We are going to confiscate them and you can get up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine,” Fire Chief J.D. Rice of Valdosta, Ga., said.

And that’s no way to spend the holiday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Statue of Liberty Reopens on Fourth of July

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For the first time since Superstorm Sandy, the Statue of Liberty opened to visitors on July 4.

According to USA Today, the first ferries to Liberty Island arrived at 8:45 a.m. on Thursday with guests able to purchase tickets via the Internet, over the phone or in person at the ferry station.

While the statue and its base were not damaged by Sandy, the docks and pathways were flooded and required repairs. The framework of the statue itself enabled the monument to withstand the intense winds, says USA Today.

USA Today also reports that access to the crown of the statue was sold out for Independence Day. Lines on Thursday stretched for blocks with people trying to catch a ferry to Liberty Island.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Foursquare Ranks Americas Most Patriotic Cities

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- This Fourth of July, care to take a stab at which U.S. city is the most patriotic?

You might guess Boston, with its world-famous Boston Pops concert and impressive fireworks show.

Or maybe New York, with the spectacular Macy’s fireworks display over the Hudson River.

Or how about San Diego, with its large military presence and beautiful miles of beaches, perfect for a Fourth of July barbecue?

Those are all good guesses. But they’re all wrong.

This July 4, Foursquare ranked the nation’s most patriotic cities, the cities that had the highest jump in check-ins at parks, firework shows and parades last July 4.

The 10 most patriotic cities, according to Foursquare:

1.    Knoxville, Tenn.
2.    Oklahoma City
3.    Raleigh, N.C.
4.    San Antonio
5.    Houston
6.    Sarasota, Fla.
7.    Phoenix
8.    Baltimore
9.    Charlotte, N.C.
10.  Kansas City, Mo.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Fourth of July Fireworks Spark Wildfire Fears

John White Photos/Flickr/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In Colorado Springs, Colo., entire neighborhoods have been reduced to apocalyptic landscapes in the most destructive wildfire in the state’s history.  About 350 homes have been destroyed, but many more have been saved, thanks to crews battling the flames.

“They were eating smoke and fire, enduring so much brutal heat, but they saved this neighborhood,” said Steve Schoepper, a Colorado Springs firefighter.

Firefighters were on the ground again Tuesday and were getting help from the air. The massive C-130s have rejoined the fire fight after one that was battling a blaze in South Dakota crashed on Sunday, killing four.

Now the fear of new fires has led to communities in at least 20 states banning fireworks displays this July 4 because of tinder-dry conditions.

Indiana is one of the states where police will be watching the skies.

“It’s pretty much going to be a cat and mouse game, especially once the word get out that it could be a $2,500 fine or a B misdemeanor,” said Zachary Dalton of the Beech Grove Police Department.

One study found fireworks caused more than 15,500 blazes and $36 million in property damage in 2010. Firefighters say leaving the fireworks to the professionals is the best way to insure the only “bombs bursting” really are in air.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


July 4th: Despite No Specific Threats, Officials Stepping Up Security

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you're headed to a major Fourth of July celebration on Wednesday, you can expect to see more police and security officials milling around.

While officials say no specific threats or terror plots have been discovered, they are stepping up security over concerns about so-called "lone wolves" and ongoing concern about al Qaeda -- specifically al Qaeda in Yemen.  There's concern that the group has been focused on recruiting people of different ethnic backgrounds.  

ABC News confirmed a report out of Europe last week that a man of Norwegian descent was recruited, and is thought to be operating out of Yemen.  ABC News also learned last week that the U.S. government had charged a man of Vietnamese descent with planning and plotting with al Qaeda in Yemen.

As a result, Americans can expect to see a lot of law enforcement officials in major cities on Independence Day.  There will be undercover cops, radiation detectors will be out, and authorities will also have eyes in the sky.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Top Dog: Joey Chestnut Wins Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest

Getty Images (File Photo)(BROOKLYN, N.Y.) -- It took 10 minutes and 62 hot dogs for Joey Chestnut to win his fifth consecutive Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, N.Y.

Retaining the Mustard Yellow Belt once again, Chestnut of San Jose, Calif., has dominated the competition.

He set the all-time record in 2009, downing 68 hot dogs and buns, the equivalent of 21,000 calories, in 10 minutes.

"I love hot dogs," Chestnut said. "There's a couple of foods that if you see me eat them in a contest, you can tell I like them. Grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken wings, ribs, hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza. I mean those, they go down like I was made to eat them."
The 96th annual hot dog eating contest brought out thousands to the corner of Stillwell and Surf Avenues in front of the original Nathan's Famous hot dog stand to witness the eating battle. The scene included a man in a Dr. Seuss hat on stilts, a dancing plush hot dog and two guys in orange tank tops bouncing on a trampoline.
Many spectators came in their July 4 finest. There were men wrapped in U.S. flags chanting "USA, USA," and women wearing red, white and blue bikinis.
For the first time, Nathan's sponsored separate competitions for men and women. Sonya Thomas of Alexandria, Va., took the title in the first-ever competition for women, eating 40 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, one shy of her 2009 record.

The 100-pound woman never stopped moving during the contest, constantly bouncing and twisting her way to victory. She shoved hot dogs in her mouth with one hand, while cradling a cup of liquid to wash them down with the other.

Thomas, also known as "The Black Widow," was the odds-on favorite going into the contest. She set the women's record in 2009 by eating 41 hot dogs and buns during the joint competition.

The contest requires eaters to consume the entire hot dog and bun and any "reversal of fortune," Major League Eating's term for vomiting, results in an automatic disqualification.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Many Towns Will Forgo Fireworks Celebrations This Year

Photos[dot]com(SANTA FE, N.M.) -- To celebrate Independence Day, there will be quite a fireworks show on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. But in many other places, Americans will be denied their Fourth of July celebrations.

The summer has brought unusually dry weather to some parts of the country, creating fears that having fireworks celebrations would just be too dangerous.

"The chances of fires getting started are much greater when it's hot and exceptionally dry out," Accuweather broadcaster Jeannette Calle said.

With wildfires already blazing in Arizona and New Mexico, the bans on fireworks are spreading.

"Across New Mexico, we have seen just how quickly fires can burn through our landscape and impact our communities," New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said. "I am asking New Mexicans to follow all state and local fireworks bans and restrictions and pull together to ensure a safe and celebratory Independence Day weekend."

But New Mexico's governor has limited power.

"I ordered no fireworks used on state land," Martinez said. "That is the only authority I have as governor."

Martinez begged residents to forgo fireworks this year, even going as far as declaring a state of emergency regarding the use of fireworks, effective through July 6.

In Texas, where more than 3 million acres have been scorched, nearly every county has banned fireworks. This means that for the first time, 100,000 people in Austin won't see fireworks explode as the Texas Symphony performs, because the show was cancelled.

But one Texas town, Amarillo, has come up with a solution to the problems: Instead of the usual pyrotechnics, the town will have a laser show instead.

"Something new, something different and something safe. And really celebrating a wonderful day," Amarillo National Bank Vice President William Ware said.

It's not just the fire hazard that is causing the lack of fireworks this year. For some cities, economic hardships are putting an end to their patriotic plans.

In Chicago, for example, the city will have its big fireworks show on the Fourth, but the show for the big annual food festival, Taste of Chicago, this weekend, has been cancelled because of budget worries.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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