I happened to be driving over the Queensboro Bridge on June 29, 2020 and witnessed one of the five pop-up fireworks shows that the city surprised New Yorkers with during the pandemic. They were magnificent and spectacular and delighted this pandemic-weary New Yorker. Fast forward to 2021. The percentage of eligible New Yorkers who were vaccinated by July 4, 2021 was roughly 70%. Macy’s promised a fireworks display like nothing anyone had ever seen. With the additional 5th barge on the East River and 65,000 shells, the show would be the biggest yet and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced, “Literally, Macy’s is putting together the biggest fireworks display they’ve ever had.”
An hour before showtime we walked to the waterfront in Long Island City amongst the biggest crowds I can remember for a July 4th fireworks display donning masks. As veterans of watching Long Island City fireworks shows, we made our way to the lawn near the Pepsi Cola sign and managed to find a patch of green to lay down our blanket for four. The show launched and the crowd was jubilant. The collective joy and release was palpable after the year we had all lived through, sitting en masse a novel concept. It was a gift to witness the incredible display with colors and shapes that felt exciting and new. The reds and blues and purples were richer. There were Saturn shapes and jellyfish and Chrysanthemums among the smiley faces and hearts. But the hearts garnered the crowd’s endearment. Perhaps living through a pandemic reminds us of what’s truly important. A little bit of heart goes a long way. Here’s hoping.
iPhone snaps Beth Horta for Sweet Sabelle.