Stepping Out

Lighting up Long Island

Dazzling fireworks set the tone for a colorful Fourth of July

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Get set to enjoy the annual spectacle that marks our Independence Day, with some rousing celebrations. While the main event is Wednesday, of course, the county-wide festivities begin Saturday, continuing into next weekend with plenty of local fireworks to enjoy in communities throughout the area.

TD Bank Celebrate America at Eisenhower Park

Eisenhower Park is always on of the most popular sites to view the pyrotechnic spectacle, as part of its annual holiday double bill that also includes a concert. Crowds will fill the park once again, Saturday, June 30, to enjoy some tunes and watch as the skies light up at the county’s longstanding Independence Day extravaganza.

The Eternal Frontier, with Professor Adam Smasher, kicks things off, at 5:50 p.m. at the Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre, with a lively show for the kids. Smasher, who refers to himself as a “gizmologist,” is followed by the Mod Squad, at 6:45 p.m., which will have everyone groovin’ to some of the best tunes of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. Then headliner 45 RPM takes the stage at 8:15 p.m. The popular band will recreate the sounds of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s in their high-energy set.

The musical prelude sets the stage for the colorful fireworks that follow, presented by the famed Grucci family, at 9:32 p.m., simulcast by WALK 97.5 FM.

Theater area gates will open at 4:30 p.m. for TD customers (and veterans), 5:30 p.m. for everyone else. As always, tickets are required for admission; the free tickets are available at any TD Bank in the area while supplies last. And, of course, there is no formal seating, so bring blankets or chairs. Space is limited and overflow will be directed to other viewing and parking areas. The rain date is July 1.

Fireworks Spectacular at Jones Beach

The patriotic salute — a longstanding tradition — is eagerly awaited by throngs of area residents who will make that trek to the beach on July 4. The vivid display, beginning at 9:30 p.m., is a spectacular half-hour show using state-of-the-art pyrotechnic technology. Those vibrant colors always thrill everyone, accompanied by a rousing musical array of patriotic songs simulcast by WALK 97.5 FM and K 98.3 FM.

Of course, expect crowds. As always, thousands of hardy souls brave Jones Beach’s jam-packed thoroughfares to get a spot to see the light show. Over 250,000 people generally attend, so an early arrival is essential. “Center stage” is the Central Mall, but fireworks are visible throughout the length of the beach.

Holiday traditions that go beyond fireworks

There’s much more to an Independence Day celebration than the pyrotechnics. For those want something besides fireworks, try enjoying the holiday the way it was done in days gone by.

Step back in time to the 1860s, on Wednesday, at Old Bethpage Village Restoration, when the restored village celebrates the holiday as it would have been commemorated during the Civil War.

The festivities mark the departure of local Union soldiers — new recruits — from Long Island and the nation’s 85th anniversary with a traditional Independence Day parade complete with a marching band. Soldiers conduct drills and fire a patriotic salute, along with performance of historical musical selections by the Old Bethpage Village Brass Band. The day, which runs from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., includes contra dancing, patriotic speeches, musket firing and children’s games, as well as demonstrations of historic trades. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the festivitie.

Or stop by the summer home of President Theodore Roosevelt, in Oyster Bay on Wednesday, for Sagamore Hill’s annual presidential-style Independence Day spectacle.

Commemorate the holiday in the Roosevelt tradition, at the former presidential residence, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Independence Day was an important holiday for the 26th president, who would speak at the festivities in Oyster Bay and then gather with his extended family and friends at Sagamore Hill for a day of celebration. Cousins and friends enjoyed the day, participating in flag-waving outdoor activities for all.

Highlights include an equestrian demonstration by “Rough Riders” re-enactors, a band concert with the Calliope Brass Band, crafts and a story session for the kids, along with speeches by local dignitaries, and, of course, an appearance by the president himself as portrayed by Joe Wiegand.

Guided tours of President Roosevelt’s home (first floor) are also offered.