Many Americans are getting an early start to the July 4 Independence Day holiday in the United States, with a day off of work to enjoy the long holiday weekend.

Banks and federal offices are closed and many government services curtailed Friday.  

Washington D.C. and New York are among the cities that will have spectacular fireworks displays on Saturday.  However, many small towns have been forced to scrap or dramatically scale back their celebrations because of the economic crisis.

The holiday marks the day on July 4, 1776, that delegates from the 13 original American colonies officially declared independence from Britain.  President Barack Obama will celebrate Saturday with a Fourth of July event at the White House accompanied by military families.

The Public Broadcasting Service and the National Park Service will hold a free gala concert Saturday in front of the U.S. Capitol building.  The performers, who include singers Barry Manilow and Aretha Franklin, are treating spectators Friday to a full concert dress rehearsal.

And New York's Coney Island holds its famed hot dog eating contest every year on the Fourth of July.  The eat-off is broadcast nationally on the ESPN sports TV network.

The AAA travel and automobile club says it expects fewer people in the Washington area to be driving over the holiday, compared to last year, due to the economic crisis.  However, it projects an increase in air travel, thanks to attractive deals on flights.

Despite the money crunch, many Americans, whether at home or traveling, will find ways to relax and enjoy the holiday with outdoor summertime activities such as barbecues and beach parties, and spending time with family and friends.