US marks Fourth with fireworks

NEW YORK - Americans across the country mixed patriotism and plain old good fun to mark Independence Day on Friday, with solemn ceremony alternating with parades, fireworks and hot-dog-eating hijinks.

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered to watch the nation's largest fireworks display along New York's East River, moved south this year so onlookers would get a better view of the city skyline.

This year's show, broadcast on NBC, included new nautical fireworks that float on the water. Other new shells went through multiple transformations after they launched, providing four different effects.

Near Cincinnati, a daredevil walked 2,000 feet across a cable suspended high off the ground in an amusement park. Rick Wallenda is the grandson of Karl Wallenda, patriarch of the 'Flying Wallendas' high-wire act, who fell to his death trying to walk a cable in Puerto Rico in 1974.

Rick Wallenda, 53, completed the feat using a balancing pole and without a safety net or harness.

'I think my granddad would be proud,' Wallenda said moments after the walk.

On the 232nd anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, Boy Scouts in Hartford, Conn., rang a replica of the Liberty Bell, while organizers of the annual New York fireworks display promised the rockets' red glare would be better than ever.

Near Kissimmee, Fla., a wounded bald eagle, the national bird, was flying free after spending more than two months rehabilitating from a fight with another eagle. It was freed Thursday in Lake Tohopekaliga, the heart of Florida's eagle country.

In Boston, the 211-year-old USS Constitution, the Navy's oldest commissioned warship, was the backdrop Friday morning as two dozen people were sworn in as U.S. citizens.

Vice President Dick Cheney greeted the new Americans and later, in a second ceremony, administered the re-enlistment oath to a group of servicemen.

President Bush saluted new citizens at a naturalization ceremony in Charlottesville, Va., but was interrupted on several occasions by protesters calling for his impeachment.

In Fairmont, W.Va., gymnastics legend Mary Lou Retton was honored by her hometown with a parade and concert. She rode down streets in the cherry picker bucket of a fire truck, just as she did in 1984, when she was 16 and a new hometown hero.

Rain doused revelers on the National Mall in Washington ahead of Friday's celebrations. The musical bill included Huey Lewis and the News and Jerry Lee Lewis.