On July Fourth, Washington, D.C., will be treated to the largest fireworks display in recent memory and military flyovers, but everyone should maintain their social distance and wear a mask while celebrating, the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior say.
The Park Service and Department of the Interior released details Wednesday on how to enjoy Independence Day on the National Mall, although D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has cautioned that she thinks big, public celebrations are unwise because of coronavirus.
"We’ve communicated to [the Department of the Interior] that we do not think this is in keeping with the best CDC and Department of Health guidance," she said.
President Donald Trump will make a speech from the South Lawn of the White House on Saturday. It will be streamed online and shown on news networks, planners say.
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and historic aircraft including P-51s and B-29s are scheduled to fly over the National Mall and the District from around 6:45 p.m. to 8 p.m.
A fireworks display is set to begin at 9:07 p.m. It will be visible from three miles away, so you can watch from both D.C. and Northern Virginia, planners say.
Two companies will set off more than 10,000 fireworks over 35 minutes from an area more than a mile long. The blast-off zone goes from the Inlet Bridge south of West Potomac Park to north of the Lincoln Memorial and on the grounds of the Washington Monument, planners say.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt in a news released said it would be “an incredible fireworks display will follow that promises to be the largest in recent memory.”
Zoom in on the D.C. area to see a map of the National Mall secure zone
July 4th Fireworks Celebrations in the DMV
Fireworks displays and cancellations in D.C., Maryland and Virginia
Credit: Anisa Holmes, NBC Washington
It will be viewable from the National Mall, which will be secure and surrounded by fences. Visitors can only go onto the National Mall from certain access points, where they will go through a security screening, planners say:
- Constitution Avenue NW at 20th Street NW
- Constitution Avenue NW between 23rd Street NW and Henry Bacon Drive NW
- 17th Street NW between Constitution Avenue NW and Independence Avenue SW (near the World War II Memorial)
Access points will be open from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. No capacity limits were announced, but planners urged anyone who goes to spread out over the 800 acres of the National Mall.
Gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited under D.C.'s coronavirus rules, but the National Mall is federal land.
More than 300,000 cloth face coverings will be handed out for free to people who go onto the mall. It's still recommended that you bring your own mask as a precaution against coronavirus. Anyone over 2 years old should wear a face covering, the CDC recommends.
Anywhere you watch the fireworks, wear a mask and stay six feet away from others, organizers say. Stay home if you feel sick, wash your hands often and avoid unnecessary physical contact.
Mayor Bowser recently asked D.C. residents to steer clear of the fireworks and instead celebrate close to home. On Tuesday, she issued guidelines on how to more safely host or attend a party.
Washington, D.C., and neighboring areas in Maryland and Virginia have largely decided to nix their annual parades and fireworks displays, fearing coronavirus could spread through crowds.
Trump and his administration, however, pushed for a repeat of his "Salute to America" spectacle from 2019. One spokesman said Americans deserved a celebration.
The Park Service and Interior Department say the fireworks will be visible for miles and suggested a few places to watch that are away from possible crowds downtown:
- U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial
- Netherlands Carillon grounds
- Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove
- Gravelly Point Park
- Mount Vernon Trail from the 14th Street Bridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island
Metro has announced it will run extra trains for the show. Riders are required to wear masks.