Kevin and Mary Starr of Buffalo, New York, celebrated Independence Day with bellies full of lobster at the Fourth of July fireworks display in Portland.

The retired couple began their first trip to New England in Maine on Tuesday, with plans to visit Acadia National Park later in the week, when a local recommended they watch the fireworks on the Eastern Promenade.

They kicked back in borrowed lawn chairs with thousands of their new friends listening to the Portland Symphony Orchestra at the eighth annual Stars and Stripes Spectacular.

“It’s perfect,” Kevin Starr said, gesturing out at a Casco Bay stacked with boats. “It’s just the right size. Great weather. A real fine show.”

During a pre-show performance, PSO conductor Robert Moody took a moment to enjoy a little football payback by playing the Clemson fight song for his old friend, former assistant conductor Norman Huynh, an Alabama graduate, to mark Clemson’s 2017 victory in the national championship. Last year, Moody lost the same bet when Alabama won.

Moody flew Huynh back to Maine’s largest city from Portland, Oregon, where he conducts the orchestra, to enjoy the Clemson victory with him and be with Moody as he performed his final July Fourth concert in Maine. He will step down next year after a decade with the group to explore other ways of making music and guest-conduct orchestras around the world.

The Stars and Stripes Spectacular was free to the public and privately funded with support from companies such as WEX, the Maine Red Claws, Quirk Chevrolet and the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, among others. The fireworks were shot off for about a half-hour at the top of Munjoy Hill, which was closed off to vehicular traffic to make room for the estimated crowd of 50,000.

The Carson family from Gray and Standish has attended several Eastern Promenade shows. On Tuesday night, the children, who range in age from 6 to 18, flopped around on blankets, tickling each other and watching people pass by with glow sticks during what felt like an eternal wait for the show to begin.

“It’s nice to come and see people you used to know, see people from all walks of life,” said April Carson. “It’s like a big family reunion. People always seem to get along. It’s all right to bring your kids. You get to know the people sitting around you. It’s nice. We’ve only missed it once or twice. It’s something we always put on our calendar.”

The family, which this year numbered 13, drove up for the day, enjoying some time at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth before driving into Portland. In the past, they have taken a train ride along Casco Bay on the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad from Ocean Gateway to the Eastern Prom, but this year the lines were too long so they walked it instead.

Adnan Yousef, 16, of Portland came to the fireworks with friends, but found himself separated from his fellow teens when the show started. It was the Somali immigrant’s first time at the show. Although it was smaller than the Fourth of July events he usually watches on television, he said he liked the local event better because he could feel that “boom boom boom” of the explosions in his chest and hear the echoes bounce off the harbor.

“Look at all the smiles,” Yousef said, pointing at the children with red-white-and-blue balloons, banners and noisemakers. “All of my friends and their families are here.”

He carried a bag of freshly baked pita and boor, or fried dough, from home to munch on, along with some guavas he had saved, but he washed it down with a Coca Cola. He had already spent his pocket money on a glow-in-the-dark necklace for one of his sisters and sparklers for his brothers. He had saved one box of sparklers for his pals, who were roaming the hillside crowd looking for schoolmates.

He walked off with his cellphone held up, trying to text his friends and capture the soft glow of willow and chrysanthemum styled fireworks for his Instagram account.

Downtown Freeport was the place to be early Tuesday, as the annual Fourth of July parade rolled through the middle of town and the L.L. Bean 10K road race drew more than 1,400 runners.

Penelope Overton can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

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