NEW YORK -- As Americans prepared to celebrate the nation's 238th birthday, Hurricane Arthur forced several East Coast cities to switch the dates of their Fourth of July shows and officials in the drought-stricken West urged caution in setting off fireworks.
Boston officials moved the annual Boston Pops July 4 concert and fireworks from today to Thursday because of potential heavy rain.
On Boston's Esplanade along the Charles River, there were few hints of the gathering storm. Temperatures were in the 90s in the early evening, and many thousands of concertgoers gathered to hear the Beach Boys and Broadway star Megan Hilty.
Augusta, Maine, moved its fireworks display to Aug. 2 to coincide with an annual festival, while several New Hampshire cities moved their fireworks shows to either Saturday or Sunday. In New Jersey, Atlantic City and Ocean City moved their fireworks to Sunday.
In New York City, the annual Macy's fireworks show will be back on the East River after five years on the Hudson River. A spokesman said the show, the largest Fourth of July fireworks display in the nation, will go on no matter Friday's weather.
Another New York tradition is the Nathan's hot dog eating contest at Coney Island, where champion Joey Chestnut, who ate 69 wieners and buns in 10 minutes last year, will defend his title on Friday.
In Oklahoma, the city of Pauls Valley has its own July 4 food competition: a watermelon seed-spitting contest. The record, set in 1989, is 66 feet, 11 inches.
Throughout parts of the drought-stricken West, fire officials are warning residents to take precautions when lighting fireworks. Hot and windy weather can make for dangerous conditions, and fireworks have been banned in large swaths of forested areas over concerns they could spark wildfires.