Macy’s has been lighting up the New York skies above either the Hudson or East River on July 4 for decades, but for the 37th annual celebration organizers decided to take advantage of the Empire State Building’s newest feature.
This year’s program, which will feature 40,000 blasts above the Hudson between West 24th and 40th streets beginning at 9 p.m., will also include a patriotic light show on the Empire State Building’s spire.
Anthony E. Malkin, the president of Malkin Holdings, the company that manages the building, said New Yorkers and visitors will see the skyscraper in a whole new way.
“Picture someone playing the great organ at Radio City, but instead of the organ, we’re playing with the lights,” he said.
Last year, the building’s lighting system was updated so it can produce 16 million colors and new effects such as ripples, cross-fades, sparkles, chasers, strobes and bursts.
Malkin said the building had a huge success when it introduced the new light system at an Alicia Keys concert in November, and he wanted to go bigger.
He teased that the lights will be spectacular during the final minutes of the half-hour fireworks show.
“There is a point in time during the general show where we are just playing along and when we get toward the end of the show, we will be specifically, note by note, choreographed with the music,” he said.
The addition of the Empire State Building’s light display isn’t the only change at this year’s fireworks display.
R&B star Usher was chosen to curate the show, marking the first time a major recording artist has helped produce the program.
The 34-year-old singer promised to keep the show New York-centered and said the Empire State Building lights will give it an extra Big Apple touch.
“It’s going to be an epic moment when Frank Sinatra’s classic ‘New York, New York’ and the Jay-Z and Alicia Keys anthem ‘Empire State of Mind’ close out the show,” Usher said in a statement.
The show also airs on NBC beginning at 8 p.m.