The most avid Fourth of July fans wait in line all day to get close to the Hatch Shell, and none among them are more devoted than Scott Webb.
The Lynn resident said he arrived at the Esplanade at 8 p.m. Wednesday and grabbed the first spot in line.
”I slept on a poncho with my towel as a pillow,” Webb said.
His Navy friend Jason Thompson, of Detroit, said he and Webb were in the North End when a friend texted about the change in schedule for the city’s celebration.
“He stands up like he’s been possessed by the Holy Ghost and said, ‘I’ve got to go,’” Thompson said. Thompson showed up a few hours later and also spent the night on a poncho.
Webb said the Fourth of July is his favorite holiday. He said he comes from a multi-generation military family and always loved watching the Boston bash on TV as a kid.
He said the line to get into the oval outside the Hatch Shell was about a tenth of its normal length today. Those in line said some revelers might be at work or worried about the rain.
Webb is unfazed.
“The fireworks will be awesome. The guest stars will be awesome. Keith Lockhart and America’s Orchestra will be awesome. Period,” he said.
Thompson, who said he first came to the Esplanade for the Fourth of July last year, plans to make the event an annual tradition. He said he particularly likes hearing the orchestra play “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”
“One is filled immediately with a sense of duty and pride, and you realize the importance of Boston in American history,” he said. “And we are a living, breathing part of it.”
Webb said nothing matches the Pops’ rendition of the song, delivered with a shower of confetti.
“Probably the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup is the only thing that comes close,” he said.
Behind Webb and Thompson, the line stretched for about 150 yards early this afternoon. People lounged in the shade on folding chairs and blankets.
Cathy Mitchell, 55, of Charleston, S.C., said she and her husband, Jim, secured a spot in line about 11:30 a.m.
“I think it’s been one of the best days ever, just sitting and relaxing,” she said.
Both Mitchells said they are most looking forward to seeing the Pops play, and they’re not especially worried about inclement weather.
“Being from Charleston, we’re so accustomed to hurricanes blowing through,” Cathy said.
Mike Moehring, 63, of Boston, said he has attended the dress rehearsal on July 3 each of the last three years, but he has never been on the Esplanade for the main event.
With the celebration moved up a day, Moehring said, he decided to get in line at about 11:30 a.m.
He attributed low turnout to the forecast and the workday but said the weather seemed pleasant enough.
Wearing a Red Sox cap and sitting in the shade, Moehring smiled when he talked about the part of the show he is most excited for: the famous 1812 Overture.
“That is the signature piece that the symphony does,” he said. “And seeing it done here with the cannon, there’s nothing like it.”