Macy’s capped off its five nights of “pop-up” fireworks displays with a brief but beautiful blitz of explosives atop the Empire State Building.
The demonstration kicked off at 9:38 p.m. with colorful fireworks shooting off the Art Deco landmark’s observatory, sending sparks and smoke drifting down over Midtown and drawing “wows” from the crowd.
“I’m so glad they did that. What a cool idea to shoot them off the building like that,” said Geela Roland, 54, a Pilates instructor who was among more than 150 people lined up along 34th Street between 5th and Madison avenues to watch the surprise light show.
Macy’s had not publicized the fireworks locations in advance in order to prevent crowds from gathering in violation of social-distancing rules.
“It looked like they were shooting some of them out of the windows,” Roland added.
“That was very nice. That was something good for morale. We needed that.”
The first blasts lasted less than a minute, with fireworks resuming again for three minutes around 9:51 p.m.
“It’s a different display this year — that’s for sure,” said Lucien Vanoverberghe, a warehouse worker, as he gazed up at the skyscraper lit up in red, white and blue.
Vanoverberghe had traveled to Manhattan from Patterson, NJ, with his wife and three kids in hopes of catching the display.
“A lot of the fireworks in Jersey are canceled this year,” he added. “But we wanted to bring the kids to see this. We wanted to show our support.”
Some noted, though, that it was tough to find enjoyment in the diminished show, as the nation continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic and racial justice protests prompted by the police killing of George Floyd.
“We can’t celebrate July 4 the way we used to. This is the safest way. But it doesn’t feel as enthusiastic,” said Jake Forrester, 28, a nurse still wearing his scrubs after a 12-hour shift at a city hospital.
Forrester, who did appreciate the fireworks display, described his July 4th feelings as “bitter.”
“It’s kind of hard to be proud of where we are as a country right now,” he added.
“We’re failing at containing COVID[-19]. We’re failing at healthcare. We’re regressing … I’m a little bitter.”
The show completely fizzled with one Ohio couple, Brian Tuck, 27, and Heather Moss, 27, of Akron.
“I mean, it’s cool it happened at the Empire State Building. But that’s it,” Tuck said.
“Given all the crap that’s going on in the country you think they could have used some bigger fireworks.”
Moss added, “I’ve seen bigger fireworks in my backyard.”