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July 4th In Baltimore: Birthplace Of The National Anthem Celebrates In A Big Way

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Ritter Rick 370x278 (3) Rick Ritter
Rick Ritter joined WJZ Eyewitness News in May 2014 as ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Fireworks light up Downtown Baltimore. But as thousands were glued to the sky, police officers were on the ground, working to keep the patriotic celebration safe.

Rick Ritter has more on how the event went.

Thousands packed it in downtown. Many told WJZ they noticed two things: the amazing fireworks and strong police presence.

At 18-minutes long, it was a show like no other.

“I like how they go ‘pow!’” a little girl named Jocelyn said.

The Inner Harbor welcomed thousands for the nation’s birthday.

“It’s hard to ask for more than that,” said Jason Edmonds.

For Gabrielle and Issiah Givens, it was their first time catching the fireworks.

“We usually see them in D.C.,” they said.

They were dressed for the occasion.

“The red, white and blue. Add the little fedora to go with it,” said Gabrielle.

It’s the same story for Ruth Cougnet. Outside of the food and band, she was there for the best seat in Maryland.

“Where else can you see them then at the harbor?” she said.

Tracy Baskerville with the Office of Promotion and Arts said it was hard not to notice the larger crowd.

There were roughly 75,000 people last year compared to the 100,000 expected at the harbor this holiday.

“I think it’s an earlier crowd than we had last year just cause the weather is so nice,” said Baskerville.

Last year, there were no major incidents on the Fourth of July, but years before that is a different story.

In 2011, a fire broke out, a tourist was murdered and a four-year-old was shot at Pratt and Light streets.

This holiday, police added barriers to contain crowds and amped up security with plain clothes officers as part of the strategy.

“Definitely way more secure. Yeah,” Gabrielle Givens said.

Baltimore City Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said it was a zero tolerance policy, setting the tone for the night.

“If you act up and do dysfunctional activity, you’re gone. It will not be tolerated,” he said.

With this Fourth of July in the books, many have one thing on their mind—next year.

“I’m definitely coming back,” said Ted Michos.

Police tell WJZ there were no major problems or incidents at the Inner Harbor.

Police tracked officer deployment using GPS in case of any potential problems.

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