Updated: Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Return to Roosevelt Island, After All

Updated: Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Return to Roosevelt Island, After All

A fireworks return to Roosevelt Island, announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday, confirms a story last week on a Long Island City website. The Roosevelt Island Daily previously disputed that report, and we happily apologize for our error.

By David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

“This will be the biggest show yet, literally Macy’s putting together the biggest fireworks display they ever had,” de Blasio said in a press briefing.

Fireworks return to Roosevelt Island
Photo by Anna-Louise on Pexels.com

More importantly for Roosevelt Islanders, from five barges positioned on the East River in Midtown, Macy’s will send 65,000 shells and other effects into the air.

This is the long traditional spot just south of Roosevelt Island, and the viewing is the best in the world.

“There’s going to be dedicated areas for fully vaccinated folks,” the mayor added, other areas for folks who are not vaccinated or want to join together with family who are not vaccinated. All will be managed by the NYPD to keep it safe. This is really great, a tremendous sign of the rebirth of New York City.”

But that only covers the waterfront areas in Manhattan. What about Roosevelt Island?

Fireworks Return to Roosevelt Island With Move View Options Than Ever Before

The first question for most of us is, “Where can I watch?”

Part of the excitement here is that, when this year’s fireworks return to Roosevelt Island, viewing options are more and better in 2021.

Let’s consider the best of them and what their status is as of today.

FDR Four Freedoms State Park

In years past, when the south tip of Roosevelt Island remained undeveloped, RIOC lined up chairs running roughly the whole length of the current park. It is, without question, the world class location for shells bursting overhead, reflecting off glass towers in Manhattan and Queens.

But things are different now, and New York State Parks is in charge.

COVID concerns and other safety regulations are considerable, but they are all in already.

“We are finalizing the plan for the Fourth of July and should have the information to share next week,” a Parks manager told The Daily. Those plans must include arrangements with RIOC because access is possible only through Southpoint Park.

Southpoint Park

Not only are the low, rolling hills of Southpoint ideal for watching the fireworks, but in the past, RIOC’s been able to put together some entertainment along with food trucks. People typically arrive early with picnic baskets and blankets.

With such short notice of Macy’s fireworks return to Roosevelt Island, RIOC’s forced to scramble. And that’s complicated by a staff still largely working remotely and a current move out of their long time home in Westview.

But talks have already started with New York State Parks, and some arrangement is almost certain.

Cornell Tech: Fireworks Return to Roosevelt Island, But It’s a First for the Completed Campus

With its island-wide raised meadows, unfinished areas of Cornell Tech add acres of prime viewing space. No plans are ready yet, but the café may well arrange for grab and go foods, as they have in the past.

Large as it is, the campus will still need to consider COVID restrictions. It’s a lot of work in a short timeframe.

Many locals are asking about the on campus Graduate Hotel, especially its top floor restaurant with unobstructed views. It’s not open yet, but spokespersons tell us that’s expected this month.

“Given it was just announced, there are no firm plans yet,” our contact told us, “but I believe the team is hoping to make something happen.”


A move by Jersey City for fireworks on the Hudson, this year, likely contributed to the city’s decision for Macy’s return of fireworks to Roosevelt Island. That and COVID now make it a challenge.

State agencies, RIOC and Parks, will be working overtime to make this an unforgettable Fourth for Roosevelt Island. As will Cornell Tech.

Whatever they work out, you can expect big crowds with many visitors arriving by subway, Tram, ferry and car. (NYC Ferry service is likely to be suspended with fireworks launching along their routes.)

RIOC PSD and NYPD have handled the crowds well in the past and will need to dust off those successful plans for another year.

One thing is sure: Barring bad weather, 4th of July, 2021, will be a day to remember for Roosevelt Island.

This story is developing, and we will have more later.

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