FDNY firefighter Bob Constant never touches fireworks because a homemade one blinded his father in the right eye as a child.
But Constant accepted a friend’s invitation to the TD Bank Celebrate America Concert and Fireworks show on Saturday because he loves to watch them sparkle.
“They’re magnificent, the way they light up the skies,” said Constant, 53, of Wantagh.
The 13th annual display at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow drew thousands who marveled at the fireworks show that began just after 9:30 p.m. Scores of people sat along Hempstead Turnpike to watch the fireworks and a bunch of motorists pulled over on the Meadowbrook State Parkway to view the show, too.
Earlier in the day, lines formed quickly. People lugged coolers with food and drinks and folding chairs as the song “Sweet Home Alabama” played. Kids did cartwheels. People staked out the right spot at Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre to spread their blankets for the show.
“I love the fireworks,” Michelle Spindell, 45, said before the festivities began.
Spindell, of Westbury, was a ball of energy even though she had been up since 6 a.m. She came with more than a half-dozen family members and sat next to a cooler filled with cheeses and pasta salad. Her specialty — ball-size pieces of fried zucchini — were packaged in bags.
“Someone woke me up and I said, ‘Time to make the zucchini,’ ” she said of 2-year-old granddaughter, Audrey, sitting on her lap.
The free event, hosted by Nassau County, included performances by The Steam Punk Pirates and Killer Joe & The Lido Soul Revue before the grand show.
“This is what I look forward to every year,” said LeQuetta Goodwin, 52, of Moriches. “The band, the fireworks, the atmosphere. It’s just so beautiful. I like the noise.”
Each year, her list of invitees grows. She brought the man she met on a recent blind date, blushing that she was falling in love.
Nassau County police said the fireworks usually draw 20,000 visitors inside the park and another 10,000 spectators outside the park at nearby places such as Nassau Community College.
At one point, about 6:40 p.m., security stopped letting people into the amphitheater, where the show was held, because it had reached capacity. A number of people watched from the nearby parking lot. Others left upset.
Before the show, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano called the United States “the greatest country in the world brought together by 56 patriots,” as he recognized veterans and active military.
“The only reason we enjoy the freedoms that we enjoy here in the United States is because we have brave men and women that defend our freedom here and around the world,” Mangano told the crowd.