Fireworks light up the sky on the 4th of July [video]

For many in the United States on July 4, the traditional way to end the day is to sit down, look up and watch a fireworks show — an artistic display of light, color and sound that fills the sky, evoking a sense of patriotic pride on America’s Independence Day.

Fireworks displays are an annual tradition, one that began with John Adams — a Founding Father and the country’s second president. Adams envisioned fireworks as part of Independence Day celebrations. In a letter to his wife, Abigail, Adams explained that the festivities should include “Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations [fireworks] from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

Adams would likely be pleased that Americans took his advice — and ran with it.

This July 4, there will be over 16,000 fireworks shows nationwide, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association. The largest shows will be held in New York, Boston, Washington, Nashville, San Diego and Chicago.

“Some of these displays are planned out a year in advance,” says Julie Heckman, the association’s executive director.

Pyro Shows Inc. — one of the largest fireworks companies in the world — is introducing new technologies this year, “employing more computerized firing systems that give you split-second accuracy,” says the company’s director of administrative operations, James Woods.

“Every Fourth of July — and every fireworks display, for that matter — has a very strong patriotic feel,” says Woods.