South Florida celebrates America’s birthday with fireworks, parades

MIAMI (WSVN) - The skies lit up across South Florida, as revelers ended a day of barbecues, parades and parties by coming together to watch Fourth of July fireworks.

Thousands descended on Bayfront Park in Downtown Miami to secure a front-row seat for the fireworks display, Wednesday night.

For South Florida transplant Kalisha Matterson, the patriotic spectacle, which lasted about 15 minutes, is something she looks forward to every year.

“I’m from [Washington], D.C. I live here now. I’ve been here for like 13 years, so it’s just gorgeous,” she said. “Being on the water, seeing the fireworks is beautiful.”

The Independence Day bash began hours earlier, filled with live music, food and an ideal summer getaway for travelers.

Asia Cannon came all the way down from Maryland.

“I am really excited. I got really dressed up just to be here,” she said.

Other revelers told 7News this was their first time watching the fireworks at Bayfront Park.

“For my kids, this will be their first time seeing fireworks like this,” said Connecticut resident Zelma Olivi.​

“It’s when all of us come together as Americans,” said Maryland resident Prianca Parvez. “We’re proud, we’re independent, so, all this vibe.”

Hours earlier, thousands of locals gathered in Key Biscayne for the 59th annual Independence Day Parade.

Grammy Award-winning singer Jon Secada was on hand to sing the national anthem.

“It’s my first time, in all these years living in Miami,” Secada said. “This is what Miami’s all about, Key Biscayne and a day like this.”

Some attendees have been coming to the event for years.

“It’s always the best on Key Biscayne,” said Annika Akernund Tarajano. “I’ve lived here close to 40 years, and I really, really love it. It’s a wonderful day.”

Others flocked to Pelican Harbor Marina to spend the Fourth of July on the water.

Miami Beach was also a hotspot for the holiday.

People spent time in the salt water and also grilled food on land.

Many expressed how grateful they are to be an American. “I was an immigrant from the Dominican Republic. Right now, I’m a U.S. citizen,” said one woman, “and very happy to celebrate the graciousness that this country has offered all of us.”

The City of Miami Gardens turned their festivities into a community gathering.

“Concerts, live performances, dance, carnival, food, community,” said Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert.

Kid-friendly fun also took place at Bayfront Park while families waited for the fireworks.

In Broward, residents also came out to enjoy Independence Day activities, from Fort Lauderdale Beach all the way up to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.

The timing worked in revelers’ favor on Fort Lauderdale Beach, where the rain started just as the fireworks display ended.

Hours earlier, Fort Lauderdale kicked off festivities with a parade along A1A, one of the city’s oldest traditions.

Around the county, there were also commemorations for veterans as crowds celebrated their freedom.

“It’s an honor, to be honest with you,” said veteran Rich Broder. “You watch the parade, you see how many people are here. It shows that people care.”

A lot has changed in the last 242 years. Back in 1776, it was all about fighting for the freedom of American families. Now, it’s all about simply being with family.

A host of events took place in Fort Lauderdale, including live music, parties, giveaways, contests and more.

The celebration was put together by Fort Lauderdale Parks and Recreation.

“It’s a day full of lots of fun and excitement. It’s all free as far as the activities,” said Debbie Bylica of Fort Lauderdale Parks and Recreation. “Every year, the crowd gets bigger. By the time the fireworks, the beach is packed from the north end all the way down to where it splits to the south beach, so it’s packed. It’s hard to tell, but thousands of people are here.”

Back in Downtown Miami, Matterson said cultural diversity is what helps make the Fourth of July celebrations unique.

“Just being around everybody, the different cultures, everyone coming together and having a great time,” she said. “I mean, it’s South Florida. I think it’s really nice.”

For more festivities going on around South Florida, click here.

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