America celebrates July 4 with parades, hot dogs, cold beer

A young girl waves a flag during rehearsal for the annual Boston Pops orchestra Fourth of July concert at the Hatch Shell in Boston, Friday, July 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
A young girl waves a flag during rehearsal for the annual Boston Pops orchestra Fourth of July concert at the Hatch Shell in Boston, Friday, July 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The United States marks 239 years as an independent nation on Saturday as it celebrates the Fourth of July with parades, fireworks, food and music. Here are some highlights and lowlights of Independence Day celebrations across the globe:

PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS CAMPAIGN IN PARADES

Parades across Iowa and New Hampshire were clear reminders of the race for the White House: Red balloons promoting “Jeb! 2016,” a tractor draped in a Rick Perry banner and dutiful volunteers holding signs and chanting for their chosen candidates.

Former Govs. Jeb Bush of Florida, Rick Perry of Texas and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island as well as South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham worked the crowd in Amherst, while Hillary Rodham Clinton marched in a parade in New Hampshire’s North Country. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio spent the holiday in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley met voters in Iowa.

NATHAN’S HOT DOG EATING CONTEST

Matt Stonie devoured 62 weiners and buns in 10 minutes to upset Joey “Jaws” Chestnut in the annual hot dog eating contest at Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island, breaking Chestnut’s bid for a ninth straight victory.

Stonie, who finished second last year, beat Chestnut on Saturday by two weiners. Both are from San Jose, California. The next closest competitor ate 32 hot dogs.

Defending champion Miki Sudo won the women’s division by devouring 38 weiners and buns in 10 minutes.

The Las Vegas woman retained the coveted mustard yellow winner’s championship belt by downing four more hot dogs than last year and besting Sonya “Black Widow” Thomas of Alexandria, Virginia, who devoured 31 weiners.

MUSIC, CULTURAL CELEBRATIONS ON NATIONAL MALL

A fife and drum corps, parade and concerts on the National Mall highlight the festivities in Washington.

As morning rains cleared, the capital’s Fourth of July parade kicked off. The parade features marching bands, floats and balloons with plenty of red, white and blue.

The National Mall is also hosting the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The annual festival features the culture of Peru this year, drawing thousands of visitors to the mall before the evening fireworks.

The U.S. Air Force Band performs Saturday evening on the Washington Monument grounds. And the big event is the “Capitol Fourth” concert on the west lawn of the Capitol, featuring Barry Manilow and the National Symphony Orchestra before the fireworks.

FIREWORKS SHOOT INTO COLORADO CROWD, BURN 9

Officials say nine people suffered minor burns during an accident at a fireworks show in Avon, Colorado.

Virginia Egger, the town manager in Avon, says a malfunction caused a fireworks shell to explode in its tube rather than firing into the sky Friday night. She says the misfired shell caused a rack of shells to tip, causing two or three shells to go off toward the crowd.

The accident occurred about 17 minutes into the 23-minute fireworks show over Nottingham Lake, bringing the event to a halt. The annual event attracts about 20,000 people.

The cause of the malfunction is under investigation.

IN AMERICA’S BIRTHPLACE: CONCERTS, A PARADE AND BEER

Philadelphia started its Fourth of July celebration a little early.

The city’s Liberty Block Party kicked off the festivities Friday near Independence Hall with music on three stages, treats from local food trucks and restaurants and a beer garden.

The Philly Pops performed patriotic tunes Friday night on the Independence Hall steps.

Saturday’s events include a Celebration of Freedom ceremony, a parade through the city’s historic district and a free concert and fireworks on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Celebration of Freedom marks the 50th anniversary of a protest outside Independence Hall that would be a milestone in the fight for gay rights.

The concert features performances from Philadelphia’s own The Roots, Miguel and Jennifer Nettles.

SOME TROOPS OVERSEAS GETTING PIZZAS AS HOLIDAY TREAT

Hot dogs and burgers may be on the menu for many Americans celebrating the Fourth of July, but for some troops serving overseas, a different treat awaits – pizza.

Pizzas4Patriots, an Elk Grove, Illinois-based group founded by a veteran, has arranged for 5,000 pies to be shipped to Afghanistan, and a thousand to Kuwait. Mark Evans, a retired Air Force master sergeant, says it’s a way of giving back to service members.

Evans’ group partners with businesses like Rich Products to make the pies and DHL to fly them. The pies are put on dry ice and driven to forward operating bases before being served.

Evans says Pizzas4Patriots has sent 150,000 pizzas to deployed troops for the Super Bowl and July Fourth over the past 8 years – roughly a million slices. He says they also deliver pizzas to veterans’ hospitals across the U.S.

BOSTON POPS FEATURE 42ND SHOW

Boston gospel singer Michelle Brooks-Thompson will perform the national anthem as Keith Lockhart celebrates his 20th year as conductor for the annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on Saturday.

The star-studded event is held at the DCR Hatch Cell in the city’s Back Bay off the Charles River Esplanade and will also feature Broadway star Michael Cavanaugh, “American Idol” finalist Melinda Doolittle and “America’s Got Talent” finalist Sons of Serendip, a quartet who met at Boston University.

Drum and bugle corps the Boston Crusaders and the USO Show Troupe will also perform.

Events, which are televised and broadcast live in Boston, begin at 8 p.m. Fireworks start at 10:30 p.m.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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