WASHINGTON — The annual Independence Day celebration across the United States on Wednesday involved numerous patriotic events and cookouts leading up to nighttime fireworks displays in many cities.
In Washington, D.C., the annual July fourth parade made its way down Constitution Avenue. Later, a large crowd gathered on the national mall for a patriotic concert, and watched as fireworks lit up the sky behind the Washington Monument.
The spectacle got high marks from a visitor to Washington named Donna.
"They were wonderful," she said. "They were amazing, they were awesome and just marvelous. This was our first time in the city so we've enjoyed it very much.''
Obama honors military
Earlier Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed 25 active-duty U.S. service members as new American citizens sworn in at the White House.
The 4th of July
Philadelphia marked Independence Day on July 4, 1777, a year after the Declaration of Independence was adopted
The city adjourned Congress and celebrated with bonfires, bells and fireworks
The custom spread across the United States in the following years
Congress established Independence Day as a holiday in 1870
Today, the 4th of July is marked with parades, fireworks, picnics, barbecues.
"Immigration makes America stronger, immigration makes us more prosperous, and immigration positions America to lead in the twenty-first century - and these young men and women are testaments to that," he said.
The president later paid tribute to the military families and invited them to join him for a barbecue and a performance by the U.S. Marine Corps Band.
Romney's family celebration
Obama's likely Republican opponent in the November general election, Mitt Romney, spent the holiday marching in a parade in New Hampshire.
"Well, we're just here with my family," he said. "There are 30 of us in total, with the grandkids and kids and daughters-in-law. The Wolfboro parade is a tradition in my family, so it's fun to be back, and campaigning this time."
Hot dog-eating frenzy
American Joey Chestnut chewed his way to victory for the 6th consecutive year at the hot dog-eating contest at Coney Island in New York City. He consumed 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes.
"I was pushing my body to the absolute limit," he said. "The last minute is the hardest. Right now its all settling and I'm feeling much better and eventually I'm just going to have to take a nap."
This year's celebration marked the 236th anniversary of the United States' declaration of independence from Britain.