NEW YORK — Starbursts and streamers of red, white and blue exploded over the Hudson River Thursday night as thousands of celebrants braved steamy weather for the 37th annual Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular.
Huge crowds flocked to the West Side Highway and rooftops along the waterfront to watch the show, which was broadcast for home viewers by NBC to a soundtrack compiled by Usher.
The Stapleton family from Gulfport, Miss., which flew in for a vacation timed to overlap with Independence Day, stood among the revelers taking in the show.
"No other reason than we just wanted to see the fireworks," said Tony Stapleton, 52, who stood with by his wife Sharlene, 49, and their daughter Kiara, 17.
In New York for a weeklong vacation, they came to the waterfront at 3 p.m. — six hours before the first rockets launched — to stake out a spot along 12th Avenue. They found shade on the road's wide traffic median, staying there until the road closed to traffic.
"People told us to get here early, so here we are," Tony said.
Nearby, a couple from Danbury, Conn., waited hours in the sweltering heat as cars roared past them.
"There's so much noise — the city's pretty much going 24 hours," said Nurya Louzada, 28, resting her head against her husband's arm.
"We got here at 2 p.m., and there are already a lot of people here."
Some made new friends. Wilson Maldonado, 46, Ivonne Vazquez, 42, and Sandra Sosa, 54, banded together as they wandered in search of a spot, finally putting up folding-chairs against the side of a building near 40th Street.
A few blocks south, Mikey Lindfield, 21, and Aimee Flack, 24, visiting from London, wore clothes and sunglasses patterned with the flag of their country's former colony.
"We realized we'd be here for the Fourth of July, and we thought it'd be fun," Flack said. "Yeah America."