PORTLAND, Maine — Thousands of people gathered on the lawn of the Eastern Promenade Thursday to watch the Portland Symphony Orchestra's comeback performance and a spectacular fireworks bonanza, hosted by NEWS CENTER Maine's Cindy Williams and Lee Nelson.

Mainers and visitors started setting up their tents and blankets hours before the show started, all with the intention of getting the best spot possible. 

Shamrock Signature put on the production for the city of Portland. VIP tickets and sponsors helped cover the cost of the event.

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Hours before the Portland Symphony Orchestra took the stage, the promenade was buzzing with excitement over the Pops' return to Portland's July 4 celebration.

"Oh, we just love all of the patriotic songs. Granted, wherever you are, you can see the fireworks, but the music is just amazing," said Ms. Hilton, who comes to the celebration every year.

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When it came to picking out the perfect spot to see the performance, having a strategy was the name of the game. 

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"You definitely want to make sure you get your spot, because if you don't, it's standing room only," said Colton, a longtime July 4 celebration-goer. 

The Pops were greeted back from their year-long hiatus with rousing applause. They played a two-part concert, featuring patriotic songs, classical renditions, and, a crowd favorite, the Star Wars and Harry Potter theme songs. 

They continued to play as fireworks burst overhead; nearly two-thousand shells fired within 27 minutes. 

Steven Marsen of Pyro City Maine won the two-year contract to organize the fireworks show for Portland's July 4th celebration.