Throngs of jubilant spectators placed the COVID-19 crisis in the rearview mirror Sunday night as they gathered along the East River for a mesmerizing July Fourth fireworks show.
The dazzling, annual display marked a return to normalcy as spectators were able to enjoy the pyrotechnics devoid of lockdowns, social distancing and mask requirements.
“These are the most beautiful fireworks I have ever seen,” said Denise Rivera Coladonato, a 39-year-old health care worker visiting from Charlotte, North Carolina.
“This is incredible. They are a lot louder than I thought they would be,” said Coladonato as she watched the fireworks from a Midtown public viewing area on the FDR Drive at East 34th Street.
At one point during the show, Coladonato was overcome by emotion.
“It’s my first time here. I’ve been to New York so many times … and I did not expect all this,” she said while hugging her niece and tearing up.
Coladonato’s 7-year-old daughter, Natalie, was shocked at how loud the fireworks were.
“It’s cool. They’re really loud and a little bit scary but not really,” she said with her fingers over her ears.
“It’s kinda like they are coming closer to me but they are not.”
Another North Carolina resident, Lisa Powell, 56, called the event “spectacular” as she and her family took in the fireworks that were blasting over the East River from five Macy’s barges.
New Jersey resident Janette Rosa, 30, said Sunday marked the first time she’s been to New York City for the Fourth of July.
“They’re incredible. They are unlike any other. It’s beautiful,” said Rosa.
“It’s way better. In my mind I thought once you see fireworks you see them all, but it’s completely different.”
Last year, the fireworks were wrecked by the pandemic, with “pop-up” shows meant to discourage large gatherings.
Earlier Sunday, other people in the Big Apple celebrated Independence Day with trips to the city’s beaches and parks.