fireworks, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Fireworks blaze over the Philadelphia Museum of Art once again as part of the city’s Fourth of July celebration. They are usually timed with live music over the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. — G. Widman for GPTMC

Pop! Pop, pop, pop ... boom! These noises usually associated with fireworks make people and animals jump and become fearful. But in cities like Philadelphia that have a high gun violence rate, these jarring sounds are frequently thought to be gunfire as well.

The Fourth of July is one of two main times of the year that fireworks are known to happen — with New Year’s Eve being the other.

Even smartphone services such as the Citizen app are trying to reassure people as the Fourth of July holiday weekend approaches with tips on how to distinguish fireworks from gunshots.

Here are some tips being shared:

If it sounds more like a “bang” than a “pop:” Then it’s probably fireworks. Fireworks have more of a “boom” too. Gunshots are fast and louder.

If there’s a slight echo: It could be gunshots. When a shot is fired, you can generally hear two sounds. First, there is the crack as the bullet breaks the sound barrier. Then, there is the thump of the round being fired and hitting something.

If the sounds are fizzy: Then it’s probably fireworks. They tend to have crackling noises after being lit. If the sounds are more uniform, they are probably gunshots.


Hopefully, Philadelphia residents and visitors will be relaxed enough to look forward to the fireworks the city has to offer this Independence Day.

One of the city’s most highly anticipated July 4th fireworks show is back as part of the Welcome America’s return to in-person celebrations. Taking place at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the fireworks show is scheduled to start at 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

The display is free and open to the public. There are plenty of places to see the show live and up close.

Here are 10 places to watch the 2021 fireworks:

Benjamin Franklin Parkway: You can catch the show front and center along the Parkway from Logan Circle to Eakins Circle, where the views are breathtaking. This location is also considered an iconic and classic Philly fireworks destination.

Sister Cities Park: This is a modern green space in Logan Circle that’s right off of the Parkway.

Four Seasons Hotel: You can make a night of it from 60 stories up at this spot and watch the fireworks. There will also be live Cuban jazz and summer cocktails for guests, as well as window views from the JG Skyhigh Lounge at the hotel.

Schuylkill Banks waterfront: This is a 2,000-foot-long pathway that extends the Schuylkill River Trail from Locust Street to South Street. If you get there early you can mark your spot to watch the show with a blanket or chair and enjoy the view. Not only will you see the fireworks at close range you’ll also get a glimpse of some of the best skyline views.

Martin Luther King Jr. Drive: The drive is still closed to vehicular traffic since the pandemic to help increase pedestrian use. It’s spacious with plenty of room for fireworks-watchers to spread out. This drive is also right across the Schuylkill River, facing the lit-up Boathouse Row.

Kelly Drive: Kelly Drive is opposite of and parallels the Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. It also offers great views of the fireworks and Boathouse Row. There’s an open field to view the show and set up blankets and chairs.

Lemon Hill: The elevation of Lemon Hill makes this location in Fairmount Park perfect since it overlooks the Schuylkill River. Lemon Hill is also home to the historic Lemon Hill Mansion. There’s also lots of space to set up blankets and chairs as well.

Drexel Park: Located at 3100 Powelton Ave. near Drexel University, this makes for one of the best spots to watch the fireworks display because it offers incredible city views and a chance to avoid the Parkway crowds.

University Center/Powelton Village: In West Philadelphia, near what has been historically known as “the bottom,” there are many good places to see the Independence Day show. Some venues even offer elevated spaces where you can comfortably sip, have bites and see the remainder of the rockets’ red-glare and bombs bursting in air. If you live in the area, the fireworks can be seen on the rooftop or patio at home.

Girard Avenue Bridge: Connecting East and West Fairmount Parks is a great location off the direct Parkway path. You can find the bridge at 123 W. Girard Ave.

Penn’s Landing: This is a common spot to watch some of the fireworks from our neighbors in New Jersey. The area stretches from Front Street and Delaware Avenue, passing Spring Garden Street to Washington Avenue, spanning the Delaware River. Camden has been known to have a fireworks display.

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