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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Boston Fourth of July fireworks
Spectacular fireworks at Boston's Fourth of July celebration.

Boston's Fourth of July Celebration

The Boston Pops Orchestra, fireworks, cannons, and church bells all come together on the Esplanade every Fourth of July in Boston. Boston's Fourth of July has become the pre-eminent Independence Day celebration in the county. The event as we know it began in 1974, but concerts on Boston's Esplanade, along the Charles River, date back to 1929 when legendary Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler conducted his first Fourth of July concert. David Mugar, now executive producer and founder of Boston's Fourth of July, had become saddened and disappointed with the state of decline of the Esplanade, the Charles River, and the Fourth celebration in the early 70s. He made a deal with Arthur Fiedler: if Fielder would conduct the 1812 Overture, Mugar would round up not only fireworks, but also cannons and bells to rouse the moribund annual concert on the Esplanade. Despite minor glitches, the renewed Fourth of July was a rousing success!

Two years later, in 1976, Boston's Fourth of July helped the nation celebrate its Bicentennial with a concert that drew 400,000 people, marked by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest crowd ever assembled for a classical music concert. Now the event regularly draws between a quarter and a half million people who marvel at the "pyromusical" fireworks display after the concert. Guest performers now share the stage with the Boston Pops; since 1987 they have included Johnny Cash, Mel Torme, Roberta Flack, and Sandy Duncan. A fly-over by military jets marks the beginning of the two-hour concert. Following the concert with its signature 1812 Overture, there is a spectacular 30-minute fireworks display.

The event is documented in five pages of narrative text, photographs of the event, several commemorative programs, a promotional brochure and site map, CDs containing the 1999 Boston 's Fourth of July Internet site, press clippings, copies of significant papers, a video of the 1999 event, and a tee-shirt.

Originally submitted by: Edward M. Kennedy, Senator.

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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