People across the nation celebrated America's 243rd birthday Thursday, including Chattanooga residents who were out at the Tennessee River Park during the afternoon spending time with family.

Chattanoogans at the park Thursday shared what the holiday means for them. Kristy Cousins spent the day with her husband and daughter riding around the park.  

"We've been riding out bikes, the kids have played. We'll probably nap," resident she told Channel 3. 

Just a few feet away, a large family gathering was taking place underneath one of the park's pavilions.

"We're excited to be Jacksons. We're the Jackson clan," said Jo Anne Favors.

Whether it was a peaceful family day outdoors or a full on family reunion, Chattanoogans were all saying the same thing this Independence Day. 

"Happy Fourth of July!" park goers shouted. 

For some it was a time to reflect on our country's founding.

"It's not just a day off, it's a special day, it's our countries birthday, it's about freedom. I think about sacrifice. Yeah, we're enjoying it as a family but

There are a lot of people who paid a huge price so that we could do this," Cousins said.

For others, it was a reminder of where we came from and where we're headed as a nation.

"Fourth of July means, to us, that we were brought to a country against our will, of course, but through the years, we've been able to resolve some of the issues and there are still some issues that need to be resolved," Favors explained. 

At the center of it all, it's a time for family, food and, of course, fireworks.