Preview: Macy's 4th of July fireworks to once again light up New York City skyline

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The nation's largest 4th of July celebration will once again ignite the night with an unparalleled barrage of dazzling effects framing the iconic New York City skyline during the 45th annual Macy's fireworks celebration.

This year, Macy's will return to their show that took place in pre-COVID years to celebrate Independence Day and our nation's 245th birthday.

Approximately 65,000 shells will be launched from five barges positioned on the East River at Midtown Sunday, with prime viewing locations in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn.

The high-flying show is made possible in part by the work of a team of 50 licensed pyro-technicians who are hard at work meticulously wiring each effect and loading them onto firing mortars laid out on the barges.

RELATED | Where to find July 4th fireworks in the New York area and what got canceled
EMBED More News Videos

Macy's 4th of July Fireworks are returning this year after a modified version due to the coronavirus pandemic last summer.


The workers were sweating through their shirts on a sweltering Tuesday at press preview for the event.

"There's a lot of manpower in fireworks," said Gary Souza, the show's designer, who watched the progress from a golf cart, a relaxed foot propped on the dash. "Working with explosives, you have to keep your composure."

On July 4th, five barges will be tugged into position in the East River from 23rd to 42nd Streets so Souza can launch 65,000 aerial shells and effects against a backdrop of the Manhattan skyline.

The 25-minute show culminates in what Souza calls the golden mile, draping the sky above the river in a mile long stretch of gold light that cascades to red.

This year's show is meant to pay tribute to "the hero within," according to Macy's.

"We've all had a really complex year, and we wanted to celebrate the spirit and optimism that America embodies," show producer Will Coss said. "At the heart of what we do is bringing smiles and delight to the masses."

One by one, the fireworks -- some of which measure up to 10-inches in diameter and weigh up to 50 pounds -- will be loaded and synchronized to a custom-designed digital firing system.

The behind-the-scenes magic happens daily until the show Is ready for the big countdown on July 4 and the first effects explode with thunderous sound, dazzling shapes and brilliant color against the Big Apple skyline.

The fireworks begin at 9:25 p.m. and will last until 9:50 p.m. There will also be fireworks shot off of the Empire State Building from the 72nd, 86th and 103rd floors.

The primary viewing area is approximately 2.5 miles long along the FDR Drive next to the East River.

There will be separate viewing areas for vaccinated and unvaccinated spectators, according to city officials.

Macy's 4th of July Fireworks first burst onto the New York City sky with a special U.S. bicentennial show in 1976. Since then, the show has grown in scale and artistry as they burst to life over many of New York City's waterways and neighborhoods.

The 45th edition of Macy's Fireworks is conceived, designed, and produced by Macy's with Pyro Spectaculars by Souza.

Designed to ignite in synchronization to a patriotic musical score, the 25-minute display will feature a host of shells and effects in dozens of colors and shapes including eclipsing fans, triple linking rainbows, blue jellyfish with crackling tentacles and red, white and blue waterfalls, creating dramatic effects a mile across the river and from 1,000 feet in the air to the water's edge.

The musical score for the fireworks display will feature classics like "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "America the Beautiful" and will feature guest performances from the United States Army Field Band & Soldiers and also "Lift Every Voice and Sing" by Broadway Inspirational Voices.

Tori Kelly is set to sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the musical "Carousel."

RELATED | Long Branch cancels July 4th fireworks over crowded beach party
EMBED More News Videos

Long Branch announced it will be postponing its July 4 fireworks due to a large beach party last weekend that was packed with out-of-towners.


Security will be tight, with public viewing locations set up and managed by the NYPD.

Viewing will be available for verified fully vaccinated spectators on elevated portions of the FDR Drive with entry points at East 23rd, East 34th and East 42nd Streets.

ADA/Special Needs public viewing for verified fully vaccinated spectators will be accessible at the East 34th Street entry point.

Public viewing for non-vaccinated spectators will be available along portions of the Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan waterfronts.

As health and safety regulations evolve, these changes may impact the city's public viewing plan, so spectators are encouraged to check Macys.com/fireworks for the most up-to-date viewing information including entry details, health and safety protocols and marine viewing.

----------
* Get Eyewitness News Delivered
* More New York City news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.