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updated: 8/3/2014 9:53 PM

Fourth fun from home -- hot dogs included

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  • Joey Chestnut won last year's Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island by eating 69 dogs in 10 minutes. Can he beat his own record in 2014? Find out at 1 p.m. Friday on ESPN2.

      Joey Chestnut won last year's Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island by eating 69 dogs in 10 minutes. Can he beat his own record in 2014? Find out at 1 p.m. Friday on ESPN2.
    Associated Press

  • Fireworks will once again light the sky over the U.S. Capitol, left, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial this Friday. You can see "A Capitol Fourth" beginning at 7 p.m. on WTTW Channel 11.

      Fireworks will once again light the sky over the U.S. Capitol, left, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial this Friday. You can see "A Capitol Fourth" beginning at 7 p.m. on WTTW Channel 11.
    Associated Press

 
 

If the weather or the crowds keep you away from the usual Independence Day events this weekend, you can still enjoy the trappings of the holiday from your couch.

The festivities begin at 1 p.m. Friday on ESPN2 with an event both fascinating and disgusting, the convergence of gawkers on Coney Island for the 2014 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest.

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Joey Chestnut, the top-ranked competitive eater in the world -- yes, there's something called Major League Eating with global rankings -- will attempt to beat his own record of stuffing down 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Let's hope we don't witness any "reversals" or "protein spills" this year.

If gastronomic fireworks aren't your thing, two prime-time shows will bring you the pyrotechnics we all want to see.

The Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular returns to NBC at 7 p.m. Friday with "America's Got Talent" host Nick Cannon presiding over a pop and country program before a large arsenal of explosives is fired over New York's East River near the Brooklyn Bridge.

This year's performers include country stars Miranda Lambert ("Automatic") and Hunter Hayes ("Invisible"), pop singer-songwriter Ariana Grande ("The Way") and superstar Lionel Richie, who probably won't perform "Dancing on the Ceiling."

Your best bet for Independence Day entertainment remains, as ever, PBS' "A Capitol Fourth," airing at 7 p.m. Friday on WTTW Channel 11. There's no better backdrop than Washington, D.C., for a patriotic celebration featuring the National Symphony Orchestra, the U.S. Army Band and the Joint Armed Forces Chorus, among other musically talented members of our armed forces.

Tom Bergeron hosts the 90-minute program that also features pop legends Frankie Valli, Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald; "American Idol" winners Phillip Phillips and Jordin Sparks; legendary film composer John Williams and even Jim Henson's Muppets! (Maybe they'll be performing Sam the Eagle's "Salute to All Nations, But Mostly America.")

Sean Stangland is a Daily Herald copy editor and a tireless consumer of pop culture. You can follow him on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH.

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