Patriotic fervor spread across Long Island in 1976, as the nation prepared for its Bicentennial celebration. And after months of suspense, when the Fourth of July finally arrived, countless events were held all around New York to commemorate this special day. Let’s take a look back at this memorable year in Long Island’s history.

1976 will be remembered as the year that our nation celebrated Independence Day for an entire twelve months. Sure, there was other things going on that made the year memorable. There were Summer Olympics held in Montreal and a Presidential election back home, Peter Frampton released Frampton Comes Alive (part of which was recorded at the Long Island Arena) and the Apple Computer Company was formed, but it was the Bicentennial that was on everyone’s mind, young and old, primarily because it was, well … inescapable.



Suffice to say, anything that could be colored red, white and blue – whether it be food or toys or clothing or cars – started appearing on the market at the beginning of the year, even a little before in some cases. Every company sought to proudly portray how American they were in their advertisements in radio, TV and print ads.

Television stations were filled with historical retrospects, educational shows and other patriotic programming. Schools prepared stage plays and pageants, and communities prepared for parades, firework shows and other extravagant celebrations. In other words, utter saturation.

The Freedom Train traversed the country’s railways from April, 1975 to December, 1976, carrying hundreds of historic and pop culture items that represented America within its ten display cars, and stopping at cities across the country.

You might even remember that the Long Island Railroad presented two Railroad exhibits of their own, One in Suffolk County and the other in Nassau, called the Bicentennial Heritage Trains.



When the glorious day finally arrived, all of the television stations provided day-long coverage, as people flocked to numerous locations around the island and city to start the celebration. Most of these places were utterly packed. An impressive tall ship procession took place in New York Harbor, followed by a firework display of monumental proportions.



Eisenhower Park hosted a major fireworks display as well, along with just about every other public park across the island. And for those who didn’t want to deal with the crowds, many spent the holiday at block parties and backyard barbecues.



The Bicentennial arrived after the Vietnam War and Watergate, providing a momentary (in the grand scheme of things) diversion from more turbulent times. Long Islanders and the rest of the nation put aside many of their differences in 1976, choosing to instead celebrate and appreciate all of what makes America special.

And quite honestly, the next celebration can’t come soon enough.



Where were you on July 4th, 1976? Let’s hear all of your Bicentennial memories in our comments section below.

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8 Responses

  1. RD says:

    Played with my band FADED GRASS outdoors at an event for the Colonial Farmhouse Restoration on Little Neck Parkway in Queens — complete with Jimi style “Star Spangled Banner”. Still got the cassette of that day.

  2. Mo says:

    I was in my jr.High marching band playing the bass drum, marching in in the centenial parade playing the piece-“El-Capitan” by John Sousa. And as well was a snare drummer in for my church for their centenial parade ,Sadie Hawkins unit-American RevWar unit.Geeeez,im 52 yrs and remember those days sooooo clearly and misssssSSS those days as well! People were different then!I remember sunday Roller Rink parties,Friday or saturday evenings to the drive-in theaters and those Pizza-burgers,redhot candies,jawbreakers!My mom would take us alot,remember seeing Jaws when it first came out!I am presently looking for the drum and fife recording compilations released then! I love your Blog!!!!!!! Thankyou!

  3. Ellen Solway says:

    I swear I saw James Brown preform on July 4, 1976 at Eisenhower park. Does anyone remember a concert there that day??

  4. Alice says:

    Still have a bicentennial round brim hat from when I was 12. Not a hoarder, just sentmental. I also remember someone went around that year and painted all the fire hydrants in my town of West Hempstead red, white and blue. Don’t know if that was all over Long Island or maybe just my town. We had a big parade come down Hempstead turnpike. Whatever happened to patriotism?

  5. Ann Nonimus says:

    Oh, come on! How can you possibly recall the Bicentennial without mentioning…The Bicentennial Minute?!?

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