July Fourth Festivities to Dominate City

Posted June 27, 2003 at 3:27pm

Load up on water and sunscreen, stake a patch of lawn early and don’t even think about finding a parking spot — it’s time to prepare for the July Fourth celebration.

On or near the Mall there will be parades, historical re-enactments, concerts and the famed fireworks display during what is predicted to be a sunny day with temperatures in the mid-80s and zero percent chance of rain.

To kick off the nation’s 227th birthday bash, a traditional Fourth of July parade will travel west on Constitution Avenue Northwest from Seventh to 17th streets starting at 11:45 a.m.

At 2 p.m. historical interpreters will be found reading the Declaration of Independence at Union Station. Throughout the day the National Archives-sponsored activities at the station will include mock signings of the Declaration that visitors can participate in, with patriotic music and viewings of letters the president has received from children.

Into the evening, bands will perform at various spots along the Mall. The 8 p.m. featured performance by the National Symphony Orchestra Band will be held on the West Lawn of the Capitol. Gates open at 2:30 p.m. and the area is expected to fill quickly as it is a prime fireworks viewing area. This year conductor Erich Kunzel will lead the orchestra in patriotic music as well as a tribute to composer John Williams, who created the music for “Jaws,” “Star Wars,” “Schindler’s List,” and “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.”

The “A Capitol Fourth” concert, also on the West Lawn, will also feature Barry Bostwick, Dolly Parton, The Chieftans and actress Kristen Chenoweth.

The Air Force Band will perform at 6 p.m. at the National Air and Space Museum.

Country music artist Aaron Tippin and the U.S. Navy Band will perform at the Lincoln Memorial from 4:30 p.m. until the fireworks begin at 9:10 p.m. All of the events are free.

Due to limited parking and expected crowds, festivities organizers suggest using Metrorail and purchasing fare cards ahead of time to avoid lines.

Since the Smithsonian Metrorail station will be closed the entire day to avoid overcrowding, Metro officials suggests using Metro Center, Gallery Place-Chinatown, Judiciary Square, Federal Triangle, L’Enfant Plaza or Capitol South stations.

Metrorail will run special train service to accommodate crowds. The Orange Line will run on its normal route, but will also have special service to the Blue Line terminal at Addison Road. All Blue Line service will be eliminated in Maryland and the District, replaced by Orange Line service. The Blue Line will provide a shuttle between the Huntington and Rosslyn stations in Virginia. The Yellow Line will terminate at Franconia-Springfield instead of Huntington. For more information on the special Metrorail service, go to www.wmata.com.

For those who want to avoid the crowds on the Mall and enjoy the celebration from the comforts of home, PBS will be broadcasting live starting at 8 p.m.