Hot-dog eating champs, backyard picnickers and small-town
parade lovers pressed on with Fourth of July celebrations,
some featuring less sizzle than usual after Hurricane Arthur
dampened many Independence Day plans.
In Washington, President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle,
presided over a barbecue and concert on the White House South
Lawn attended by members of the US military and their
"Today immigrants from around the world dream of coming to
our shores. Young people aspire to study at our universities.
Other nations look to our support and leadership at times of
disaster and conflict and uncertainty," Obama said.
"And when the world looks to America, so often they look to
all of you, the men and women of our armed forces.
"Today we honor all of you," he said.
Hurricane Arthur traveled up the East Coast but did not wash
out the annual Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International
Hot Dog-Eating Contest in Coney Island, New York, where a
slate of professional eaters competed for purses of $20,000.
World champion Joey "Jaws" Chestnut, 30, of San Jose,
California, walked away with his eighth straight title after
consuming 61 wieners and buns - short of his world record of
69 set in 2013. Runner-up Matt Stonie took down 56 hot dogs
in 10 minutes.
Chestnut proposed marriage to his girlfriend on stage to
roars from the crowd of about 1,000 people just before the
The women's contest saw an upset, with rookie Miki Sudo, 28,
of Las Vegas, toppling reigning champion Sonya Thomas, eating
34 hot dogs in 10 minutes.
"I love watching the guys stuff their faces," said Barbara
Hicks, 43, of Queens.
Hicks said she intended to try the amusement park rides,
including the famous Cyclone roller coaster and the newly
opened state-of-the art Thunderbolt.
"We're going to have fun no matter the weather," she said.
The evening's annual fireworks show in New York City drew
huge crowds of onlookers who gathered in Manhattan and in
Brooklyn under clear skies to watch the spectacle staged on
barges in the city's East River.
PEOPLE 'WANT TO TRAVEL'
Roads were expected to be jammed during the busiest summer
travel holiday weekend, with 41 million people traveling 50
miles or more from home, the American Automobile Association
That marks a 1.9 percent increase over the 40.3 million
people who traveled this time last year, AAA said.
Travelers can be undaunted by the weather, even Hurricane
Arthur, experts said.
"People do try to err on the side of keeping their vacation
plans in place. They want to go. They want to travel," said
AAA spokeswoman Heather Hunter.
Erin Hutchinson, 36, a marketer from Pittsburgh, visiting
family in Maplewood, New Jersey, said she was taking her
children, Ava, 9, and Kane, 4, to ice-cream eating contests
and a dog show that had been moved inside because of the damp
"We have an indoors backup plan," Hutchinson said.
With the storm approaching, towns from Ocean City, Maryland,
to Nashua, New Hampshire, delayed July 4 fireworks displays
until Saturday. Many towns in Connecticut put off
festivities, while the famed Boston Pops Fireworks
Spectacular went off on Thursday, a day ahead of schedule, to
beat the hurricane.
In California, a fast-moving wildfire near Julian, about 35
miles east of San Diego, destroyed 150 acres and two homes
and prompted officials to cancel the local July 4 parade.