Monday, July 5, 2010

Independence Day in New York City

I spent my July 4, 2010 in New York City.  Despite of having lived near or in the Big Apple almost all my life, I'd never been to a fireworks display on July 4.

Unfortunately, doing anything like this involves a lot of waiting in uncomfortable temperatures.  You can't just show up an hour beforehand and expect a good view.  At New Year's Eve in Times Square, I waited for six hours in below-freezing conditions.  The second time I did Rockefeller Center's Christmas tree lighting, I faced freezing rain. The second time at the Esplanade in Boston for July 4, the measured temperature on stage was 49° C / 120° F.  (That day turned my perfectly good white t-shirt yellow.)

Fortunately, this time wasn't so bad.  It was about 40° C / 105° F, which sounds terrible, but there was a pleasant sea breeze that made it not unbearable.  And there were things to entertain me, like helicopters flying low overhead, jet fighers flying in formation, and fire boats spraying red, white, and blue water into the Hudson River.

The fireworks display was slated to be 30 minutes long.  My camera's 4 GB memory card had space for about 30 minutes, 25 seconds' worth of video.  To be safe, I started recording about a minute into the display because the last thing I wanted to do was miss the ending.  Ultimately, it ended up being a few minutes shy of the half-hour mark, so I could have captured the entire show.

One other problem I faced was not knowing how long my battery was going to last.  To save energy (and thus battery life), I watched most of the fireworks display through my camera's viewfinder.  Afterward, when asked how it was, I said, "Eh."  But on the train ride home, one of the people next to me said to his buddies, "That was the best fireworks display I've ever seen!"  Looking back on the video I took, I have to say it's a lot more impressive than I thought it was.  I'm sure that if I'd seen it with my own eyes, it would have been nothing short of amazing.

Here's my video of the fireworks display, as seen from the grass north of Chelsea Piers at 24th Street.

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