Empire State Plaza celebrates July 4th

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Large crowds filled into Empire State Plaza Monday for the Capital Region’s largest Independence Day celebration. The event, capped off by a 30-minute firework display, marked the 45th year that Price Chopper/Market 32 presented the New York State’s Fourth of July Celebration.

Some, like Kevin Houghtaling and his family, got to the plaza well ahead of the festivities to ensure he had one of the best seat’s in the house for the fireworks.

“It’s just a great show, the bands, the fireworks are the best in the state, it’s just a nice outing, the people are nice, and the Golub’s, I mean price chopper, they give back a lot,” he said, arriving at 1 o’cock, a full four hours before the event began, to get seats at the top of the plaza.

While Houghtaling continued an over decade long tradition of coming to the celebration, others came in from out of town.

“I’m really excited for all the fireworks that are gonna happen, I’m excited for all the vendors, and I saw some like face paints,” said Mackenzie Gildea, who’s visiting the Capital Region from Florida and saw the fireworks for the second time.

But this year’s Fourth of July celebration included much more than just fireworks. The event kicked off at 5 p.m. with the naturalization of 20 new American citizens, with Governor Kathy Hochul delivering remarks shortly before each became citizens.

“We welcome you, and we say to all of you, happy birthday new Americans, congratulations everyone!” the governor said.

One of those 20 was Joel Haynes, who’s lived in the United States since she was 8-years-old, originally from Trinidad and Tobago.

“To have it done on July 4th was amazing that the officer chose this day for me. I mean it just happened spontaneously. Independence Day and also becoming a citizen? What more could I ask for?” she said, also getting an opportunity to recite the Pledge of Allegiance during the ceremony.

What followed was plenty of live music, including a headlining performance from rock band Starship and a variety of food trucks serving up food and drinks.

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