Boston celebrates Fourth of July with annual Pops Fireworks Spectacular

This year's show marked 50 years since the event first began in 1974.

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The annual Fourth of July Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on the Charles River Esplanade is in the record books.

The star-spangled concert is always a highlight in the city.



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Many arrived more than 12 hours before showtime to make sure they got a front row seat at the Hatch Shell.

Kerri and Dan Dezwaan arrived at 6:30 a.m. Thursday and say there were 50 people ahead of them. They've been planning this for almost three decades.

“We’ve been talking about it since we got married 28 years ago, this was the year to make it happen,” Kerri Dezwaan, from Michigan, said.

“I want to feel the Americana in me and when they play the Americana music it just feels….it beats in my art,” said Giovanna Desimone, from California.

The star-spangled show always a highlight in the city.

The 50th annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular will be just that — spectacular — as Tony Award winning Broadway actress Kelli O'Hara will headline the free event at the Hatch Shell.

“It’s a love affair because it’s the only day I can really express my patriotism, which you know is kind of goofy but I really am very patriotic," said Harriet Sesen, who has been here almost every year. "One year, I didn’t make it because I had a heart attack. Other than that I've been here, by myself sometimes, and then sometimes we have a group that we formed that we call the Red, White and Blue crew.”

Doc Rutstein keeps track of his Fourth of July trips to the Pops on a notecard -- years marked in red means he was in the front row.

"It’s a tradition, it’s the nation’s holiday, and enjoy the music, the people, it's just a wonderful atmosphere, everyone’s in a great mood,” he said.

This year's show marked 50 years since the event first began in 1974.

“Since then the show has gotten bigger and broader every year,” said Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart. “I really do feel it is where America celebrates its birthday.”

Tens of thousands were expected to enjoy the concert.

“To celebrate the festivities, for freedom and to know that people are here all over the country come together as one and enjoy the beautiful day, freedom, liberty and justice,” said Dorchester resident Andrea Dacosta.

Lockhart said it’s inspiring to see people of different political stripes gather on the Esplanade but he noted that “one would have to have one’s head pretty deeply stuck in the sand to not notice the deep divisions in our country.”

But this is always one of the best nights of the year in the City of Boston, and tonight did not disappoint. As always, the show was capped off by fireworks over the Charles River.

Twenty miles north in Salem, Mass., people were partying at Derby Wharf all night long -- from the music to the food and family traditions.

Families said they enjoyed the event, with some calling the fireworks display a hidden gem.

"They glowed and they looked so pretty," one little girl said. "I really want to say YAY."

"It's great for the kids. We've been coming since our oldest was two and he's 10 now," Danvers resident Matt Farley said. "Best fireworks. Also the best music. When the orchestra is playing, it's better than Boston. How do you like that?"

Lindsay Page agrees. She moved to Salem two years ago and says she's been missing out all these years.

"I love it. It's so much fun and it's way easier than driving into Boston which is what I used to do."

"We got lemonade and fried dough earlier, and music and ice cream. What more could you want?" Michael Kutsch asked.

People of all ages enjoyed the evening, including the weather that turned out great.

It was quite a night at Derby Wharf in Salem, Massachusetts, with some calling fireworks in town a "hidden gem." Follow NBC10 Boston on... Instagram: TikTok: Facebook: X:

If you'll be traveling out of town for the rest of the holiday weekend, AAA is cautioning people to hit the road early. They're estimating more than 60 million Americans will be driving. If you're traveling Friday, AAA recommends leaving before 10 a.m. to beat the rush. Peak traffic is expected between 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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