Americans celebrating Independence Day with food, fireworks

CHICAGO — With fireworks thundering across night skies and backyard barbecues, Americans are celebrating Independence Day by participating in time-honored traditions that express pride in their country's 242nd birthday.

From New York to California, July Fourth festivities will be at times lively and lighthearted, with Macy's July Fourth fireworks and Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest.

In Chicago, many are enjoying the holiday outdoors at a barbecue, parade, or with a visit to the beach.

The day's events will also be stately and traditional, with parades lining streets across the country and the world's oldest commissioned warship firing a 21-gun salute to mark the 242 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

For some Western states, however, the holiday will be a bit more muted as high wildfire danger forces communities to cancel fireworks displays.