Independence Day Spectacular

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

DSC_0701 cropped small

“A ticket to see fireworks? Don’t you just, uh, look up?” That was my friend Kathy’s comment when I mentioned Vlad had made the long, hot trip downtown in a thunderstorm to pick up our tickets for the fireworks.

Normally, she’d be right: For the past few Independence Days, we’d gone up on the roof, or just looked out from our window on the 17th floor. Even in New York, some things are free!

But these weren’t just any fireworks.  This was the first time ever they’d be in the lower East River—even be launched from the Brooklyn Bridge! And our friend John, who, like Vlad, is a photographer, would be in town expressly to take photos, and we needed to find an uncrowded location for them to set up their tripods.

So when one of our kayaking friends, Nancy, forwarded an email from the South Street Seaport Museum that tickets were available for Piers 15 and 16, we jumped on the opportunity, even though the tickets were a bit pricey.

What we didn’t realize until later was that we’d be part of the show: We ticket-holders were the audience of NBC’s live broadcast. We were instructed to wear “patriotic colors”. (A British citizen, Vlad wondered if that meant he needed to be attired in the Union Jack!) And we were given little goodie bags containing American flags, and white pom-poms with red-and-blue flashing LEDs. Plus Cracker Jacks. (Remember those? My bag was open and nearly finished before the sun even set.)

For me at least, the fellow spectators were actually the best part: Everybody was friendly, relaxed and cheerful. (And in a very un-New York way, trusting: I ended up guarding one photographer’s multi-thousand-dollar camera while he ran a quick errand.)

Here are some of Vlad’s photos (click on any photo to start slideshow):

These and a few more photos are here.

58 responses to “Independence Day Spectacular

  1. stunning set of photographs – what a celebration!

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  2. Beautiful and lovely celebration. Truly awesome shots.
    Congratulations with the Fourth of July <3
    All the best,
    Hanna

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  3. Great photos as always. Great celebration by the look of it.

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  4. Wow! Looks like a grand time! I love the first image and the flag image.

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    • Johna Till Johnson

      Thanks! I’m so happy Vlad used the flag photo… I’m not much of a photographer normally, but that one came out nicely.

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  5. Love the photos, but love the writing, too! :)

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  6. Beeee-yooooo-tiful! I haven’t seen NYC fireworks in a long time; I need to plan a trip in one year because they’re pretty spectacular. Thanks for the fabulously fun post!

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  7. Happy Independence Day, indeed. Great post Johna and Vlad.

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  8. Great report! love the images of the fired-up sky.

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  9. Wow, spectacular! Thank you for taking us there, Vlad!

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  10. Beautiful shots. Amazing!

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  11. Wow, really worth every penny you paid. Spectacular show.

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  12. I can feel the energy of the celebration! Fabulous collection of photos.

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  13. That was fantastic! Felt like I was right there!

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  14. vastlycurious.com

    LOVE>LOVE these fireworks and from the Brooklyn Bridge AND your feet were on dry land!!!

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  15. I liked the caption: Not an 18th century naval battle! Lol!

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  16. Fantastic fantastic photos :)

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  17. What a fantastic tale complete with amazing photos! So glad that Arthur passed by early :-)

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  18. Great photos! LOVE the shot of the American flag!!

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  19. I recognize the South Street Seaport! lol Thanks For Sharing!

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    • Pier 15 and 16, and the ships, are still there, but the multistory building on Pier 17, which would have partially obstructed the view of the Brooklyn Bridge, was demolished just in time :-)

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  20. I like the photos, in Germany we celebrate the 3th October.

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  21. Wow you guys had the best seat in the house – fantastic set for photographs!

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  22. Awesome blog and photos! Thanks for sharing!

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  23. New York does a bang up job!…and you certainly captured it!

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  24. Pink, Johna? I guess it is the new red! What a fun night…John could not stop gushing about the experience!

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    • It was more of a fuchsia, actually… the photo hardly does it justice :-)

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    • Johna Till Johnson

      You know, Anna, I don’t actually HAVE anything red! Fuchsia and a kind of maroon-berry-crimson appear to be my colors of choice, as I discovered when attempting to follow the instructions. (I do wish Vlad had had a shirt made from the Union Jack, though–I wonder if they’d have let us in?)

      We were delighted to spend the evening with John, and we look forward to many happy returns, with him and you!

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  25. Oooh, well worth the wait! Glorious photos, Light Up The Sky, and Cracker Jacks! Do they still have favors? (If they do I’ll bet they’re plastic, not metal.) Remind me, though, whose national flag is hot pink????

    Gorgeous photo of Johna, and gorgeous US flag photo by same.
    Poor Vlad, by now we expect excellence, and always get it, and so where is there to go beyond the usual superlatives? Maybe just a simple Well done, as always.

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    • Johna Till Johnson

      The favors, alas, have gotten a bit lame. (Some sort of baseball anecdote that might or might not have included a stick-on tattoo.) And by the way, Vlad apprised me that *I* would have to answer this comment, as he “doesn’t know anything about Cracker Jacks” (direct quote). His bag sat untouched on the dining room table for several days until I couldn’t resist any longer….

      As for flags, I’ve decided if I get my own country, the national flag will be fuchsia, chartreuse, and teal. (Still working out the design). Definitely eye-catching… and really, really fun to say those names!

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