WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s “Salute to America” is making some radical changes to the Fourth of July festivities that Washingtonians — and tourists from all around the nation and the world — have come to expect.
HOW IS JULY FOURTH TYPICALLY CELEBRATED IN WASHINGTON?
Every year, marching bands, drill teams, military units, floats and giant balloons participate in a mile-long parade that stretches along Constitution Avenue. The event starts at 11:45 a.m. EDT and takes about two hours. Another tradition is the free concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol that begins at 8 p.m. Then there’s the fireworks display on the National Mall that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The fireworks begin at 9:07 p.m., weather permitting.
WHAT’S DIFFERENT THIS YEAR?
President Donald Trump has added an hour-long event at the Lincoln Memorial, beginning at 6:30 p.m., that will include military demonstrations and flyovers. Under White House direction, the Pentagon was trying to arrange for an Air Force B-2 stealth bomber and other warplanes to conduct flyovers. There will be Navy F-35 and F-18 fighter jets, the Navy Blue Angels aerial acrobatics team, Army and Coast Guard helicopters and Marine V-22 Ospreys. It’s unclear what the cost will be, but Trump says it “will be very little compared to what it is worth.” While the event is entitled “Salute to America,” some are concerned he’ll try to use his speech to boost his administration’s standing with the American people.
HOW DO PRESIDENTS GENERALLY SPEND THE FOURTH OF JULY?
It varies a great deal, but here are some examples. In 2010, President Barack Obama provided barbecue to 1,200 service members on the South Lawn. Trump also used his first Independence Day in office to put on a picnic for military families, followed by a viewing of the fireworks. The National Park Service notes that in 1999, President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton watched the fireworks from the Truman Balcony at the White House. Five years later, President George W. Bush went to Charleston, West Virginia, and praised troops serving in Iraq. In 2008, like three previous presidents, Bush hosted a naturalization ceremony. Many presidents have spent July Fourth on vacation.
HOW CAN I WATCH THE JULY FOURTH CELEBRATION?
PBS will broadcast the concert from the West Lawn of the Capitol featuring host John Stamos and such performers as Carole King, Vanessa Williams, Colbie Caillat, Lee Brice and the O’Jays. Cameras set up around the nation’s capital will capture the fireworks display. Fox News Channel and C-SPAN have both announced plans to televise the president’s speech. MSNBC won’t air it live, but may show highlights. CNN hasn’t said publicly what it will do. ABC, PBS, CBS and NBC News have all said the event will be shown live on their streaming platforms.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?
Visitors should arrive early, take public transportation and expect large crowds. The Federal Aviation Administration will also suspend operations at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport from 6:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. EDT for the July 4th flyovers. Airport operations will also be impacted from 9 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. by the fireworks demonstration.