Parades, fireworks, naturalization ceremonies, eating contests and music ushered in the Fourth of July as the United States marked 239 years as an independent nation on Saturday. Here were some highlights of Independence Day celebrations:
MUSIC, CULTURAL CELEBRATIONS ON NATIONAL MALL
Heavy rainstorms drenched the region around the White house Saturday, forcing a cancellation of an annual July Fourth picnic for military members and their families on the South Lawn.
Still, many festivities in Washington proceeded as scheduled, including a fife and drum corps, parade and concerts on the National Mall.
As morning rains cleared, the capital’s Fourth of July parade kicked off. The parade featured marching bands, floats and balloons with plenty of red, white and blue.
The U.S. Air Force Band performs Saturday evening on the Washington Monument grounds. The big event is the “Capitol Fourth” concert on the west lawn of the Capitol, featuring Barry Manilow and the National Symphony Orchestra. President Barack Obama was scheduled to make brief remarks prior to fireworks.
A 15-year-old girl won the women’s division of the 42nd annual cherry spitting contest in Eau Claire, Michigan, by sending a pit farther than anyone else: 49 1/4 feet.
“I just took a deep breath and pushed hard,” said Megan Ankrapp of Buchanan. “I was shocked.”
Kevin Bartz won the championship with a spit of 48 feet and 8 inches. Ankrapp was not allowed to participate in the overall championship round because her earlier spits were too short to qualify.
Bartz said he was excited to finally beat Brian Krause, the 2014 champ, but then realized a teenager had sent a pit farther than he did.
“I look up and say, ‘Wait a minute. One of the girls beat me,’” said Bartz, 48. “It’s not quite as exciting.”
NEW CITIZENS SWORN IN
Naturalization ceremonies big and small were held across the U.S.
The director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Baltimore district administered the oath of allegiance to 40 people from 27 countries during a ceremony at The Engineers Club in Baltimore.
In Plymouth, Vermont, 20 people became U.S. citizens at the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site. The great-granddaughter of President and Mrs. Coolidge sang the national anthem.
Officials say over 4,000 new citizens were welcomed in more than 50 naturalization ceremonies across the country from July 1 through July 4.
PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS CAMPAIGN IN PARADES
Parades across Iowa and New Hampshire were clear reminders of the race for the White House: Red balloons promoting “Jeb! 2016,” a tractor draped in a Rick Perry banner and dutiful volunteers holding signs and chanting.
Former Govs. Jeb Bush of Florida, Rick Perry of Texas and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island as well as South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham worked the crowd in Amherst, while Hillary Rodham Clinton marched in a parade in New Hampshire’s North Country. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio spent the holiday in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley met voters in Iowa.
AN OREGON FOURTH
The Portland suburb of Hillsboro held a Fourth of July parade Saturday afternoon that featured about 135 entries, ranging from marching bands to fire trucks and plenty of candy for the kids.
“It’s our favorite holiday,” said Hope Sarafa as she watched the parade with her family Ashley Clare, 6, Alexa, 3, her twin sister Christina, 3, and husband Jeff.
NATHAN’S HOT DOG EATING CONTEST
Matt Stonie devoured 62 wieners and buns in 10 minutes to upset Joey “Jaws” Chestnut in the annual hot dog eating contest at Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island, breaking Chestnut’s bid for a ninth straight victory.
Stonie beat Chestnut by two wieners. Both are from San Jose, California. The third-place finisher ate 35 hot dogs.
Defending champion Miki Sudo won the women’s division by devouring 38 wieners and buns in 10 minutes. She downed four more hot dogs than last year and bested Sonya “Black Widow” Thomas of Alexandria, Virginia, who ate 31 wieners. See Page 2A for more details on this contest.
A HISTORIC CANDY DROP
A pilot who delivered candy to children in Berlin at the end of World War II parachuted sweets down to Orem, Utah, to celebrate Independence Day.
Gail Halvorsen, 94, also known as the “Candy Bomber,” dropped 1,000 chocolate bars attached to tiny parachutes at Scera Park on Friday. He flew over the area three times before releasing the cargo into the hands of the children below.
Deb Jackson, co-chair of the event, estimated more than 50,000 people stood in 100-degree Fahrenheit temperatures to watch the 4 p.m. drop.
Halvorsen flew in a fixed-wing bomber from World War II with two escort planes attending, the Daily Herald of Provo reported.
Visitors to the National Archives building in Washington were invited to sign replicas of the Declaration of Independence.
Some signed with a quill pen while others used modern writing instruments.
The National Archives — which houses the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights — also hosted a reading of the Declaration of Independence by re-enactors portraying Abigail Adams, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington.