July 4? Arthur moves celebrations to 3rd or 5th

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Associated Press

Posted on July 3, 2014 at 10:33 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 3 at 10:35 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — As Americans prepared to celebrate the nation's 238th birthday, Hurricane Arthur forced several East Coast cities to switch the dates of their Fourth of July shows and officials in the drought-stricken West urged caution in setting off fireworks.

Boston officials moved the annual Boston Pops July 4 celebration from Friday to Thursday because of potential heavy rain. Then they cut the concert short so that spectators could see the fireworks.

The fireworks thundered and flashed over the Charles River, just beating the storm. Before that Beach Boys founder Mike Love, Broadway star Megan Hilty and the Boston Children's Chorus offered through lively performances and thousands of revelers sang along to patriotic songs.

Augusta, Maine, moved its fireworks display to Aug. 2 to coincide with an annual festival, while several New Hampshire cities moved their fireworks shows to either Saturday or Sunday. In New Jersey, Atlantic City and Ocean City moved their fireworks to Sunday.

In New York City the annual Macy's fireworks show will be back on the East River after five years on the Hudson River. A spokesman said the show, the largest Fourth of July fireworks display in the nation, will go on no matter Friday's weather.

Another New York tradition is the Nathan's hot dog eating contest at Coney Island, where champion Joey Chestnut, who ate 69 wieners and buns in 10 minutes last year, will defend his title on Friday.

In Oklahoma, the city of Pauls Valley has its own July 4 food competition: a watermelon seed-spitting contest. The record, set in 1989, is 66 feet, 11 inches.

Throughout parts of the drought-stricken West, fire officials are warning residents to take precautions when lighting fireworks. Hot and windy weather can make for dangerous conditions, and fireworks have been banned in large swaths of forested areas over concerns they could spark wildfires.

On Thursday, a trailer loaded with fireworks exploded near a high school in Comanche, killing one person and injuring three others setting up for a Fourth of July show, authorities said. The town canceled the show, which is one of the largest in the region and typically draws 15,000 people.

In Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, officials moved a Thursday night pops orchestra concert indoors because of rain, but said the annual holiday concert featuring the Roots and fireworks display would go on Friday regardless of rain.

In Washington, D.C., composer John Williams was set to debut a new arrangement of "The Star-Spangled Banner" featuring choirs, trumpets, an orchestra and cannons on the National Mall on Friday.

This year marks the anthem's 200th anniversary. It was in September 1814 when Francis Scott Key was inspired by the sight of the flag over Baltimore's Fort McHenry after a 25-hour British bombardment.

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Associated Press writer Philip Marcelo in Boston contributed to this report.

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