US President Joe Biden will mark the nation's 245th birthday on Sunday with a traditional celebration looking forward to a rebound from the coronavirus pandemic.
After a holiday spent buying cherry pies in Michigan before spending a quiet night at his family home in Delaware, Biden is returning to the White House to host around 1,000 people for burgers and fireworks.
It's a sweet dose of nostalgia for a country weary of coronavirus pandemic restrictions and hardship, burdens that have eased but not disappeared with widespread availability of vaccines.
The pandemic forced cancellation of nearly all celebrations last year and led to a toned-down January inauguration for the Democratic president, who had to do without traditional black-tie galas and bipartisan comity as Republican former President Donald Trump disputed his election loss.
Signs of normalcy have returned in the United States, where people travelled and gathered without masks even though Biden has fallen somewhat short of his goal to get 70 per cent of US adults at least one vaccine shot by Sunday. The government calculated the number as about 67 per cent, as some people have resisted getting shots.
"On Sunday, we'll celebrate our independence as a nation, as well as our progress against the virus," Biden told a group of teachers on Friday. "In the days ahead, we have a chance to make another beginning."
At the White House on Saturday, smoke from ground-beef patties rose off of charcoal grills as workers prepared dishes for Sunday's event.
In a sharp shift from recent months, the doors of the White House will be open to hundreds of invited guests, marking the largest event there of Biden's presidency.
The White House lawn event is expected to include essential workers who helped in the COVID response and military families. Biden will make remarks and there will be a 17-minute fireworks display set off from both sides of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.
The president's house has largely been walled off from public view in recent months, with COVID protocols reducing access for tours and additional fencing installed after the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol.
The event also is scaled-back compared to prior years, a nod to the COVID-19 coronavirus that has killed more than 600,000 Americans. The more aggressive Delta variant has raised alarms about the potential for another surge among the unvaccinated.