July 4 (UPI) -- Americans in Washington, D.C., New York City and in cities across the nation took to the streets and looked to the skies Sunday night to watch fireworks explode in celebration of a Fourth of July that sees the United States emerging from the coronavirus pandemic.
Festivities last year were scaled down or restricted due to the pandemic, but hopes for this year's events were buoyed in March when President Joe Biden said there was "a good chance" that friends and families would be able to congregate in small groups on July Fourth in celebration of the country's independence.
However, in June following an intense months-long vaccination drive, the White House said the American people exceeded their goal and were now "getting ready for a truly historic Fourth of July, with large celebrations planned in communities across the country."
In the nation's capitol, the president with first lady Jill Biden hosted 1,000 essential workers and military families for a barbecue on the South Lawn while thousands more filled the National Mall where they were no longer required to socially distance six feet apart.
Prior to the night, Mike Litterst, chief of communications for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, told WUSA 9 that they estimated tens of thousands would be in attendance.
During his Fourth of July speech from the White House, Biden championed the American people's fight against the pandemic, stating as they celebrated the independence of their country they were also celebrating their near-independence from the pandemic.
"Today, all across this nation, we can say with confidence, America is coming back together," he said.
Following his speech and with night fully set in, the presidential couple took in the fireworks display launched shortly after 9 p.m. from both sides of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in the National Mall.
In New York City, the annual Macy's Fourth of July fireworks show was held in its traditional immense scale after being pared down last year due to the pandemic.
"This year, back and literally better than ever," he said. "And because people have gotten vaccinated on such an extraordinary scale, it allows us to have many, many people in attendance."
He said the return of Macy's fireworks show was "a really great, a tremendous sign of the rebirth of New York City."
The display of 65,000 shells and effects were launched from five barges positioned on the East River at around 9:25 p.m. under the theme of saluting those who serve the nation.
"The summer of New York City is going to be memorable," the mayor said.