Long before a single shell shoots sky high, the Minneapolis die-hards are saving their spots – to spot the big show.

“I know everybody else wants to get here early, and if you don’t get here early enough you have to fight the crowds," says Barnetta Johnson.

She staked her claim nearly seven hours before nightfall as close to the Stone Arch Bridge as she could on the South side of the Mississippi. Then, she waited for the magic to start.

"It's almost ear-piercing insanity and all the fireworks in all the world go up in the air and you can see it all from right here and it feels like you are right up under it," she says.

From beginning to end the explosion of 4,000 fireworks for Minneapolis' Red, White and Boom display last less than 20 minutes – about as much time as it took Bruce Carlson and his family to set up their same spot for the third year.

“We don’t need training anymore," Carlson says.

They planted six hours early with just enough space so people in front wouldn’t crowd their view.

“Early, good view line," says Sarah Knefelkamp. "Making sure you know food trucks and being supplied well.”

The U.S. won its war for independence 241 years ago. But if a new one emerges over whether to watch from the north or the south side of the Mississippi, perhaps Barnetta Johnson fired the first shot from her perch.

"This side of the river is way better," she says with a laugh.