Long Island commemorates Independence Day with the annual array of rousing celebrations. While the main event is Thursday, of course, the county-wide bash kicks off the festivities on Saturday, with plenty of local fireworks to follow throughout the area.
TD Bank Celebrate America at Eisenhower Park
Eisenhower Park is always one of the most welcome sites to view the pyrotechnic spectacle, as part of its annual holiday double bill that also includes a concert. Crowds will fill the park once again, Saturday, June 29, to enjoy some entertainment and watch as the skies light up at the county’s longstanding Independence Day extravaganza.
The School of Rock starts off the festivities at 5:45 p.m., at the Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre, with a lively show for all ages. Then the headliner 45 RPM takes the stage at 8:15 p.m. The popular band — “the happiest band on Earth” — as they like to be known, recreates the sounds of the ‘70s, ‘’80s and ‘90s during their high-energy set. They’ve dug through a treasure trove of “under-appreciated” 70s AM radio hits that other bands overlook to find gems of joy. The band brings songs back to life that are instantly recognizable and deeply woven into the cultural fabric, with the veracity and fun they deserve.
That musical prelude sets the stage for the colorful fireworks that follow, presented by the famed Grucci family, at 9:30 p.m., simulcast by WALK 97.5 FM.
Theater area gates will open at 4:30 for TD Bank customers (and veterans), 5:30 p.m. for everyone else. As always, tickets are required for admission; the free tickets are available at any local TD Bank while supplies last. And, of course, there is no formal seating, so bring those blankets or chairs. Space is limited and overflow will be directed to other viewing and parking areas.
Lighting up Jones Beach
The patriotic salute, a longstanding tradition, is eagerly awaited by the throngs of area residents who will make that trek to the beach on July 4. The vivid display, beginning at 9:30 p.m. is a spectacular half-hour show using state-of-the-art pyrotechnic technology. The vibrant colors will thrill everyone, accompanied by rousing musical array of patriotic songs simulcast by WALK 97.5 FM and K 98.3 FM.
Of course, expect crowds. As always, thousands of hardy souls brave Jones Beach’s jam-packed thoroughfares to get a spot to see the light show. Over 150,000 people generally attend, so an early arrival is essential. “Center stage” is the Central Mall, but fireworks are visible throughout the length of the beach. Or choose an alternative viewing site along the south shore as many choose to do. Two popular spots are Wantagh Park and nearby Cedar Creek Park.
Holiday traditions beyond fireworks
There’s much more to an Independence Day celebration than the pyrotechnics. Consider enjoying the holiday the way it was done in days gone by.
Step back in time to the 1860s, on Thursday, at Old Bethpage Village Restoration. The rousing Fourth of July celebration recreates the holiday as it was commemorated during the Civil War.
The nation’s birthday is observed with a traditional Independence Day parade with a marching band. “Soldiers” conduct drills and fire a patriotic salute, along with performance of historical musical selections by the Old Bethpage Village Brass Band. The event, which runs from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., features contra dancing, speeches, musket firing and children’s games, along with demonstrations of historic trades. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the festivities, with the ceremony and parade, at 2:30 p.m.
Or stop by Sagamore Hill, the former summer home of President Theodore Roosevelt, in Oyster Bay, Enjoy the holiday in true presidential style, on Thursday, 12-4 p.m.
Independence Day was an important holiday for the 26th president, who would speak at the festivities in Oyster Bay and then gather with his extended family and friends at Sagamore Hill for a day of celebration. Cousins and friends enjoyed the day here participating in flag-waving outdoor activities for all.
Highlights include an equestrian demonstration by “Rough Rider” re-enactors, the First United States Volunteer Calvary Regiment; a band concert with the Calliope Brass Band, “Stars and Stripes and Old Time Swing”; crafts and old-fashioned games for the kids; along with speeches by local dignitaries, and, of course, an appearance by the president himself as portrayed by Joe Wiegand.
Guided tours of President Roosevelt’s home (first floor) are also offered.