Macy’s will host its annual Independence Day fireworks display in New York next month, marking another sign that American life is returning to some kind of normal as local COVID restrictions are relaxed across the country.
Macy’s has held a fireworks display every July 4 since 1976, but this year’s event will feature the largest fireworks display ever, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference on Thursday. The clothing retailer said Thursday it plans to launch more than 65,000 fireworks shells from five barges to New York residents and a nationwide televised audience at 9:25 p.m. on July 4.
“Because people have been vaccinated on such an extraordinary scale, it allows us to have so many people present,” said de Blasio.
Macy’s employees are excited to use the 25-minute fireworks display as the retailer’s unofficial kickoff for summer 2021, said Will Coss, executive producer of the event.
Coss and other event planners have created viewing areas for people vaccinated against COVID-19 and for those not vaccinated. For the vaccinated, the viewing area will be along Franklin D. Roosevelt’s East River Drive in Manhattan, where spectators will be allowed to watch without wearing a mask or social distancing. Unvaccinated viewers will be directed to the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens waterfronts. Macy’s did not say whether these participants will need to wear a mask.
The Macy’s fireworks display is one of many high-traffic events cities have given the green light after seeing nationwide vaccination rates rise and new COVID cases plummet. Over 135,000 fans watched the Indianapolis 500 in person last month, for example. In Chicago, the Lollapalooza Festival is slated to take place in person next month. The Texas State Fair, scheduled for September in Dallas, will also be held in person.
The New York fireworks event is returning to its normal format this year after using a method last year that sparked a little controversy. Macy’s sporadically fired fireworks at different times in different boroughs each day until July 4 of last year. The company said it had done so to prevent large crowds from gathering during the height of the. Some residents said this method was unresponsive to military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Last year we had to do it in a very different way,” said de Blasio. “It was great, but it wasn’t the same extravagance we’re used to.”
The event will also include musical performances by Black Pumas, Coldplay, OneRepublic and Reba McEntire. There will be another fireworks display in Coney Island Brooklyn following the Macy’s event, Mayor de Blasio said.