5 stories to follow: July 3

Welcome America fireworks explode over the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia on July 4th 2012. ( Ed Hille / Staff Photographer )

Here's your look at five stories we're following:

1. Fourth fun starts: Independence Day activities are getting under way in the Philadelphia region, with fireworks, parades, family events, races and other activities taking place today in advance of Friday's celebrations that include the massive Wawa Welcome America! event on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Jersey Shore is also gearing up for the big weekend.

2. Missing boater: Crews are set to resume searching for a 66-year-old man who went missing the Delaware River near Holmesburg after his boat capsized Wednesday evening.

3. State senator in court: State Sen. LeAnna Washington is scheduled to appear in court for a pretrial conference today. She faces allegations that she used taxpayer-paid-for staff and resources for campaign fundraisers.

4. Ocean research: Environmental officials in New Jersey are planning to seek an injunction in federal court today to block a plan to conduct seismic research by blasting the ocean with sound waves.

5. Pa. budget: Budget talks continue in Harrisburg, where the state House late Wednesday passed a cigarette tax to generate funds for Philadelphia public schools. The Senate is expected to take up the measure next week, while Gov. Tom Corbett says he is still reviewing the $29.1 billion budget legislators sent to him on Monday and continues to push pension-system changes.