South Florida lights up the sky to celebrate Fourth of July

Miami, Fort Lauderdale host huge free fireworks displays

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Fireworks lit up the skies of Fort Lauderdale beach Wednesday while on the ground tourists, residents and families watched in awe as they celebrated Independence Day.

More than 200,000 people came out for the city of Fort Lauderdale's free Fourth of July Spectacular. Thunderstorms had threatened to derail many area Fourth of July celebrations, including ones in Pembroke Pines and Sunrise, but most, like Fort Lauderdale's, went off without a hitch.

The Fort Lauderdale event kicked off near Las Olas Boulevard and A1A at noon with live music, vendors, beach games, a kid zone -- and if you had an appetite -- a hot dog eating contest.

Stars and stripes covered the festival and many, like Maurcio Betancourt, who proudly served this country, never forgetting why we celebrate.

"It hits the heart. I am very proud of my country," Betancourt said.

Fort Lauderdale police were keeping crowds under control and safe on the ground, even monitoring them with surveillance cameras.  On the water, officers were patrolling to make sure boaters were obeying the law.

Fort Lauderdale police said there were no serious reported incidents.

Meanwhile in Miami, tens of thousands of people packed Bayfront Park as fireworks exploded over Biscayne Bay.

Organizers said the display was the largest in South Florida.

"I come here every year from Georgia for this," tourist Serigne Gueye said.

With so many people in one place, security was tight. Officers from the Miami Police Department  were out in force and blocked off all the entrances to the park, using their cruisers. Coolers and water bottles were not permitted inside the park.

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