July 4th fireworks light up sky above New York and New Jersey

A mass shooting at a parade in Illinois rattled the Independence Day celebrations in the United States on Monday during a time when the country was already awash in turmoil over Supreme Court rulings on abortion and guns as well the Capitol Hill hearings on the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The massacre in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago, was not far from anyone's mind amid the massive crowds that gathered along the East River in New York City and along the waterfronts of Lower Manhattan and Hudson County, N.J., to watch separate fireworks shows on Monday night. 

Some spectators in Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City said being outside for the holiday felt good again after a long two years of the pandemic. 

The NYPD promised a safe event. In a statement released after the shooting in Illinois, New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said her department wasn't aware of any specific credible threats to the July Fourth celebrations. 

"Preparing and securing these types of large-scale events is what the members of the NYPD do on a daily basis," Sewell said, "and we continue to work closely with our city, state, and federal partners to ensure everyone's safety."

A viewing area in Hunters Point was teeming with NYPD, FBI, State Police, and other personnel. Barriers were up. Police dogs were deployed. Garbage trucks were used as blockades. 

Then at about 9:25 p.m., the Macy's fireworks show began. Five barges along the East River launched 48,000 shells and effects. 

Another fireworks show also got underway around the same time just off the Jersey City waterfront, where Flo Rida headlined a party that also featured sets by Shaquille O'Neal and DJ Funk Flex.

President Joe Biden, in remarks celebrating 246 years of America's independence, sought to reassure a nation both exhausted and unsettled by recent events.

"In recent days, there's been reason to think this country is moving backwards, that freedom is being reduced, that rights we assumed were protected are no longer," Biden said in remarks at a picnic on the South Lawn of the White House. "I know it can be exhausting and unsettling, but tonight I want you to know we're going to get through all of this."

Biden said that while many people see a divided country, he is hopeful.

"I believe we are more united than we are divided," the president said.

With The Associated Press and FOX 5 NY's Teresa Priolo and Stephanie Bertini.