Updated 07/04/2012 10:06 PM
Fireworks Light Up The Night As New Yorkers Celebrate Independence Day
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Millions of New Yorkers and tourists alike celebrated the nation's birthday Wednesday night with the 36th annual Macy's Fourth of July fireworks show.
An estimated 40,000 fireworks lit up the sky over the five boroughs, propelled from two barges on the Hudson River in what was billed as the largest display in the country.
The 25 minute show named "Ignite the Night" was the culmination of days of preparations.
Some of the 40,000 shells had never been seen before in the U.S., according to Macy's.
"It's gorgeous. It's just beautiful," said one onlooker.
"It's very beautiful and I'm so proud of this country because it gives me so many opportunities that my own country never had," said another onlooker.
The festivities also brought serious traffic disruptions to the area, with the West Side Highway from 23rd Street north to 57th Street closed from 4:30 p.m. Wednesday until 1 a.m. Thursday.
The same restrictions applied heading downtown from 79th Street to 23rd Street.
The New York City Police Department also reminded residents Wednesday that anyone caught with illegal fireworks could end up in handcuffs, their cars seized or their business shut down. Residents who have information about anyone using or selling illegal fireworks were asked to call 311.
As usual, there were numerous closures and service changes during the holiday, with post offices, government buildings, city offices, courts and banks all closed.
Subways and buses were running on a Saturday schedule.
The Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North and Staten Island Railway were operating on a Sunday schedule.
The Staten Island Ferry was operating on a holiday schedule, with no service between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. because of the fireworks.
Meanwhile, about 42 million Americans were expected to hit the road for the holiday.
According to AAA, travel plans were fueled by lower gas prices with the average price for a gallon of regular at $3.33.
Even though the auto club says this will be the third highest price ever on the Fourth of July, it's significantly cheaper than a year ago, when prices were about $3.57.
In New York City, drivers are paying about $3.72.