As lawmakers rush to check items off their legislative to-do list before the Independence Day recess, Capitol administrators are busy preparing for the annual July 4th Concert on the West Lawn.
"A Capitol Fourth," the live concert broadcast on PBS, is set for Saturday, July 4, at 8 p.m., and the Architect of the Capitol announced Monday that the concert will result in a familiar series of street closures. From midnight on July 2 until 4 a.m. July 5, streets surrounding the West Front will be closed. Closures include First Street between Independence Ave. SW and Constitution Ave. NW; Pennsylvania Ave. NW between First Street NW and Third Street NW; and Maryland Avenue between First Street SW and Third Street SW.
Members of the public and congressional staff will be able to take their seats starting at 3 p.m. on July 4. Public entrances are located at First Street and Third Street on both the north and south ends of the Capitol.
Congressional staff will have access to prime seating on the West Front and will be able to access the area via the southwest and northwest drives of the Capitol. Staff with a valid congressional ID will have access to the West Front, the West Steps and the Lower West Terrace.
Restricting staff access to the Lower West Terrace is one of the changes instituted by the U.S. Capitol Police to curtail Independence Day parties in the Capitol Building. In a March 12 letter , the Capitol Police Board asked House and Senate leaders that the Capitol be restricted, citing a difficulty in enforcing security protocols in past years.
The increased vigilance during the annual concerts led to a tense situation Memorial Day weekend, when Capitol Police detonated a pressure cooker in a suspicious vehicle to safeguard people attending the annual National Mall concert. It turned out the pressure cooker belonged to a Virginia man who used the equipment for his food truck business.
Previously, staff and guests, along with members of Congress, had access to the Upper West Terrace during the concerts, and staff could often bring coolers and beverages into the Capitol for the festivities.
The AOC guidance issued Monday stipulates that "all attendees must adhere to security screening procedures" before entering the area for the July 4 concert. Food and water are permitted, but alcoholic beverages and glass bottles are among the prohibited items.
The concert, which will celebrate its 35th anniversary, includes an array of performers such as Barry Manilow, Alabama, KC and the Sunshine Band, Hunter Hayes, the National Symphony Orchestra and military bands.
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