FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Thousands flocked to Fort Lauderdale Beach for a day of fun in the sun on July 4th and a dazzling nighttime fireworks show.

The party kicked off at noon on the beach between SE 5th Street and Las Olas Boulevard. There was a family zone along with beach games, music, bounce houses, face painting, and water slides.

The water slides are especially popular during the hot afternoon.

“It’s really fun! On that one, you spun around. I spun around,” said Mchasor Logurre.

And it wouldn’t be a beach party without a hotdog eating contest. Alfred Franco is the champ from 2017 and he won the first round here, stuffing down 7 dogs in just 3 minutes.

“I feel great. I could do round two. I’m going to do the pie eating contest as well,” he said.

The reason for the party is our patriotism and pride, celebrating the birth of our nation and the freedoms that come with it.

“It’s a proud day in our country where we can get together with friends and family and reflect on what a beautiful country that we live in because it is a free country,” said Brittany Johnson.

“The fourth of July kind of brings everyone together. It doesn’t matter if you’re from South America, Europe, wherever. If you’re in this country, you’re celebrating the freedoms,” said Darren McEwan.

The day is also a celebration of the diversity that makes the US what it is and the freedoms that many gave their lives for.

“This is a wonderful Independence Day for everyone to understand that we are one. We are one country. We are the people. We are one. That’s what matters the most. There should be no separations from race, color, size. Everybody matters,” said Jonathan Collazo.

As people enjoy today, and the patriotism that goes with it, many hope to see more unity in a nation that is facing division.

“Peace, that we can all get along, everyone. Instead of being divided. And we can all be proud to be Americans and not be divided,” said Veronic Mora when asked what her hope was.

One woman, who recently immigrated to the US from Iran, said July 4th has a special meaning.

“Today means pride and freedom and I love America but I love for Iran and America to come together in peace and just be done with all the animosity,” she said.

Most people plan to stay after dark and catch the spectacular offshore fireworks show which begins at 9 p.m.

But before that happens there’s a free concert by country music icon Lee Greenwood (“God Bless The USA”).

If you are thinking about going to the beach to catch the show, there are a couple of things you need to be aware of.

First, while there are no road closures, expect heavy traffic and delays. Police officers are stationed at all nearby main intersections and crosswalks to assist with pedestrians and traffic. Park only in designated areas because parking violations are being strictly enforced. Public parking lots will fill early, therefore, water shuttles/taxis and land public transportation are highly recommended.

Also, glass bottles are strictly prohibited on the beach and alcohol can only be consumed in the event area.

Finally, leave the fireworks at home. No fireworks of any kind, including sparklers, are allowed on the beach.

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