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More than 300,000 modern-day patriots braved 80-degree temperatures and converged on Boston's Charles River Esplanade Monday to celebrate America's 201st birthday.
In its 49th Independence Day appearance, the Boston Pops, under the masterful baton of maestro Arthur Fiedler, sparked the evening festivities with a 90-minute concert of marches, popular tunes and classical works.
But the Pops' performance was only part of the Esplanade extravaganza, which was capped off by a spectacular 45-minute display of fireworks that drew spectators from all over the Northeast. "It's the largest fireworks display on the East Coast--that's why we came," Lynne R. Kushner of Philadelphia said Monday.
The announced highlight of the fireworks display was the explosion of a specially built 126-pound rocket, the largest ever shot off in the United States. Although the gargantuan rocket exploded several hundred feet below its anticipated height of 2000 feet, the crowd was visibly awed by the tremendous multi-colored burst.
Many of the celebrants enhanced their appreciation of the melodies and pyrotechnics with artificial stimulants, ignoring police warnings that laws prohibiting public intoxication and drug abuse would be enforced.
George X, a South End businessman operating of an ice cream truck, said he expected to sell several thousand dollars worth of marijuana.
Edward G. Bridges, assistant to the commissioner of the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC), which supervised the celebration, refused to say whether there was selective enforcement of the laws at the celebration, but Frederick L. Smith, one of the nearly 300 police patrolling the event, said, "Low profile, that's what the boss said."
Bridges said that considering the size of the crowd, and the number of incidents at previous concerts, this year's concert was relatively peaceful.
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