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July 7, 2013

4th of July 2013 – New York and New Jersey Celebrate

Should We Cover The Macy’s Show or Not

Each year I question the wisdom of trying to cover Macy’s July 4th celebrations in New York and each year I realize it would be a daunting task to make the trip to the city, try to find a decent vantage point to get the photos I would like to take and then return to my home in New Jersey.


Click to Enlarge

Well this year I was lucky and my son was staying at one of the hotels in New York and invited me and my wife to join him. So we came into New York on Wednesday and were going to stay over through July 5th then head back to Jersey. In 2012 I was able to get some wonderful shots at Waterfront Park in Weehawkin where my brother-in-law lived and it was spectacular.

But being a photojournalist I wanted to experience the excitement this year and feel the electricity in by being in the crowd. We understood that in order to get a good view of the fireworks we could be almost anywhere in Manhattan, but I wanted more and wanted to be in the crowd. So we thought it would be a good idea to go to Battery Park but found out that it was not permitted.

We searched for more information and discovered at the site that the best places to view would be: The fireworks may be viewed from any area with an unobstructed view of the sky above the Hudson River.

Best Places To See The Show

For the best views, head to 12th Avenue below W. 59th Street at the following access points along 11th Avenue:

  • W. 24th Street
  • W. 26th, 27th, 29th, Streets
  • W. 33rd & 34th Streets
  • W. 40th, 42nd, 44th Streets
  • W. 50th through 52nd Streets
  • W. 54th, 56th, 57th Streets .

Click to Enlarge

We decided to find a spot on West 50th Street and I began to set up my tripod and get ready for the photos.  The police were everywhere and understandably so.  Security in New York during these types of events has to be tight.  Especially right after the Boston Marathon bombing and we all understood the need to feel safe. I opened my camera bag for inspection and all was well.

Now Some Facts About the Show

The fireworks started at 9 PM and the skies begin to explode with the most fantastic displays of color and artistry.  This years display was supposed to be the biggest and best in the United States since the first display in 1958.  The show lasts about 25 minute patriotic score and takes over a year to create.  The soundtrack perfectly timed to the explosions in the sky, the 40,000 shells and special effects that needed to be produced which meant the shells had to be fired at a rate of 1,000 shells per minute. The firing  is controlled by a computer that needed 10 miles of wire for proper synchronization.

Each aerial shell is individually launched from its own mortar. This translates to 63,000 feet of pipe made of steel and fiberglass for the 30,000 shells

The entire Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks uses 55 times more fireworks than the average show in the United States..

Stunning fireworks display

Red Bank – NJ – Navasink River – Click to Enlarge

The New York Police department was not alone, the New York Fire department was on hand as well with their Fire boats shooting red, clear and blue water over 300 feet into the air.

The display was amazing and I was able to capture some beautiful shots.  During the days to follow and that week-end I went to other displays in New Jersey where we live and found many other wonderful opportunities to capture the local shows, but after seeing the Macy’s display, I have to admit, I didn’t Ooo and Aaaah as they went off.

Neil Diamond Album Photo By Len Rapoport Click to Enlarge

Neil Diamond Album
Photo By Len Rapoport
Click to Enlarge

Other 4th of July Festivities

Normally we try to hit my home town Coney Island where I was born and lived the first 16 years of my life. I lived on the boardwalk there, worked on the boardwalk for three summers from age 16 to 19 at Shatzkins Knishes.  I have even put up a Shatzkins website to help me remember and share those early memories of my childhood with others.  Now we thousands visit Coney Island on July 4th for Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest.  This year Joey Chestnut scarfed down 69 hot dogs to break the worlds record.  It was his 7th win at their 98th annual contest.


In Washington on the National Mall to thousand attended their Fourth of July celebrations with Neil Diamond (my cousin) singing “Sweet Caroline” in tribute to victims and survivors of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing. The song has become a Fenway Park tradition, and Diamond performed it there in the aftermath of this horrible and cowardly attack.


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About the Author

Len Rapoport
Len Rapoport
IPA Editor-In-Chief, ID: 1000 • I am an internationally published photographer and the founder of International Press Association. As president and editor-in-chief, my duties at IPA are extensive. For over 40 years I have written articles, had my photos published in millions of publications, record album covers, books, and in the digital media. I was senior marketing and sales executive for major corporations, including my own and as a corporate communications consultant. I have taught photography and formed IPA 20 years ago. I currently work from my home office and continue to actively cover media events in addition to all of my other IPA and IMPress responsibilities.


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