As the United States turns 234 years old, Long Islanders have many ways of saying happy birthday. Some are deciding to become citizens, others are taking advantage of sunny weather to enjoy a day at the beach or on the water. For Dennis Wetter of Massapequa Park, the day goes beyond just a patriotic anniversary celebration. “I married my wife on the Fourth of July seven years ago,” he said while at Tobay Beach in Massapequa, “so it’s always a good day.”
Eisenhower fireworks illuminate night
It was a family affair as fireworks lit up the night Saturday at Nassau County's Eisenhower Park.
Grandparents came with grandkids. Mothers with children. Friends with friends.
So crowded was the event - thousands sat on blankets and lawn chairs - that people driving to East Meadow's Eisenhower were being redirected to park at nearby Nassau Community College, hours before the show was even to begin.
Wally Reetz, 57, of Westbury, came with his wife, daughter, three grandkids and some neighbors. They arrived nearly three hours before showtime but had to park on a side street and walk to the park.
"The Fourth of July is all about the family, barbecue and fireworks," Reetz said.
Last night's Fireworks by Grucci show was choreographed to music on WALK/97.5 FM and included heart-shaped displays and multicolored bursts.
Before the show, tribute bands entertained the audience, one playing such hits as Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl."
"We're here for the fireworks," said Laquana Griffin of Hempstead, who came with two friends, her godson and her two daughters, 3 and 5. "We were in Manhattan last year. But this time we decided to stick closer to home."
Oceanside's Danielle Reed, 22, kicked off the festivities early in the evening with a rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
The singer and aspiring music teacher, who had sung the national anthem at Eisenhower Park's July Fourth festivities in years past, plans to belt out the song again, at a celebration in Long Beach Sunday.
-KAITLYN DEFOTO AND MATTHEW CHAYES
Crowds pack area beaches to celebrate Fourth of July
Under perfect blue skies, swimmers and sunbathers swarmed Long Island’s beaches yesterday, seeking the kiss of sun or cool relief from temperatures touching the mid-80s. Crowds packed Robert Moses State Park, where a small group swam outside of areas patrolled by lifeguards.
“I had no idea we weren’t swimming in the lifeguarded section,” said Isabella Alfano, who was swimming with two others about 2 p.m. as about a half-dozen others waded nearby. “We’ve been swimming in this area the whole day and no lifeguards have come over to tell anyone to get out.”
“I’m a very experienced swimmer,” said Alfano, a New Jersey resident. State parks spokesman George Gorman said the department patrols areas where lifeguards aren’t regularly stationed and would look into the unguarded swimmers.
In Long Beach, Dora Carmichael, 32, and relative Jessica Rodriguez, 34, both of Kew Gardens, Queens, said recent drownings have made them even more aware of dangers. Both brought their daughters, 3 and 4.
“We came out to enjoy the good weather and the great harbor,” he said.
Marina owner Richard Valicenti, 55, said business “seems to be coming back a little bit, but that just could be the weather. The consumers’ confidence isn’t back yet.” But this weekend, he said, “We’re going to be busy. Very, very busy.”
-TULA BATANCHIEV, RACHEL BRYSON-BROCKMANN,YAMICHE ALCINDOR