NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After a year of COVID-19 lockdowns, the city held a big Fourth of July celebration on Sunday — the annual Macy’s fireworks show, which organizers say was the city’s first large-scale public event, helping kick off summer and a full reopening.

As CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported Sunday, there was a ton of excitement.

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The show’s theme was a salute to the hero within, recognizing the strength of the American people.

Having never been this close before, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported the energy was magnetic.

People were just thankful for the opportunity to get outside safely and enjoy themselves. They packed both sides of the East River to see the sparks fly.

The birth of our nation marked the rebirth of the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular.

Five barges lined the East River between 23rd Street and 42nd Street, and shot off more than 65,000 shells around 1,000 feet into the air.

The city skyline was the perfect patriotic backdrop for dazzling effects in dozens of colors and shapes, like triple-linking rainbows and jellyfish.

“I love it!” exclaimed little Bella Tolliver of Long Island City.

“My favorite part was the red colors,” added Taj Miah of Queens.

“We came here to watch it for the first time and it was incredible,” added Maria Rodriguez, a tourist from Colombia.

The show also brought back the Macy’s Golden Mile — a moment where thousands of golden-hued shells create a dramatic cascade effect more than a mile wide.

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“I think it’s wonderful,” one person said.

“The water off the buildings, it was beautiful,” added Alex Rodriguez of Queens.

The big show returned for the first time since 2019. Due to COVID-19, last year’s show was spread out over the course of a week into five-minute surprise displays to avoid attracting crowds.

But this year, there were no restrictions. Spectators were not required to be vaccinated or wear masks.

From 1 p.m. on, festive families packed viewing spots from piers along Center Boulevard in Long Island City to parts of Brooklyn and elevated portions of the closed FDR Drive.

“It was so spectacular. The finale and everything, it was amazing,” one little girl said.

“Everything, all the colors and everything,” another girl said.

“From the beginning to the end, it was the best — the lights, the sounds. New York is back,” Rodriguez said.

In lighting up the night sky with patriotism, after a tough year, the city reminded spectators that America is truly the land of the free and the home of the brave.

“I was watching the show and thinking that after a tough one and a half years this is a huge celebration and it’s a blessing,” Teresa Tolliver said.

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Thousands of NYPD officers were stationed by land, air and water, to keep the celebration safe.