There's no place like Boston for the Fourth, and the size of the crowds on the Esplanade Thursday night proved it.
Each year, the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular draws people from across the country, with some people waiting over 24 hours on the Esplanade to see the show.
Karen Reid and her daughter came to Boston from Nashville, Tennessee, to look at colleges, but they extended their stay just to see the Pops.
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"I mean, this seems a bit more spacious. Nashville's a little bit more condensed. Kind of similar— it all revolves around music," Reid said.
Pat Novak, of Memphis, Tennessee, was in Boston to see the Pops for the first time.
"I told her, 'This is the best.' She's gonna see, so you better not let her down," he said.
Others have been many times before. This year marked the 18th year Debbie Schinker, of Stow, Ohio, has come to Boston for the Fourth. She even has a scrapbook full of memories from past Pops performances.
"There's a lot of crazy in the world, and this is the best kind."
Matthew Ruane also traveled to Boston for the Fourth of July show.
"We talk to people who say for years they've watched the fireworks on tv, and we say well we've actually been to it," Ruane said.
To be front row on the Fourth, some lined up on the third. Carol Hunt, of Milton, has been doing it for three decades.
"Because this is the Fourth of July. This is where it is," she said.
The popular event boasts live music, a fireworks display and a U.S. Air Force aircraft flyover to kick off the festivities.
Grammy-winning musician Queen Latifah, songwriter Arlo Guthrie, poet and Harvard University student Amanda Gorman, the Texas Tenors and soul singer Amanda Mena performed, and the event featured a fireworks display and a U.S. Air Force flyover.
Keith Lockhart, the Boston Pops conductor, told NBC10 crowds can always count on the classics.
"That's why people celebrate traditions— to come back to something recognizable, especially when sometimes the rest of the world seems unrecognizable," he said.
And that's what keeps families like the Schinkers coming back year after year.
"The music is always different every year but the energy and the passion we get from the stage is just astounding. And the quality of the music is phenomenal," Samm Schinker said.
"It’s just like a good, free way to entertain yourself on the fourth," said Brookline resident Henry Ross. "We’re kinda like Keith Lockhart groupies."