Written by Kristin Underwood, Program Advisor – Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service
We are in our nation’s capital for our nation’s birthday! This year’s fireworks not only celebrate Independence Day, but they also commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner. You can’t go wrong with whatever you chose to do on the fourth, but be sure to celebrate the 239th party the right way by preparing with these tips and tricks:
Activities To Do on the Fourth:
It may sound impossible, but you really can do it all (or most of it) on the fourth, you just have to plan ahead.
Honor our Founding Fathers:
Wake up early and walk to the Memorial of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence before the festivities begin. The memorial is located in Constitution Gardens across the footbridge to Signers Island on the National Mall. The Mall opens at 10:00am. Try your best to sneak a peak of the signatures of our Founding Fathers’ on Independence Day before it gets too crowded. If you don’t mind waiting in line, stop by the National Archives to view the Declaration of Independence, exactly 239 years after it was first signed. The Rotunda is open from 10:00am to 5:30pm.
Celebrate International Cultures:
In the midst of the patriotic festivities, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival will still be going on. Weave through the tents to experience the cultures of Kenya and China firsthand.
Watch the Independence Day Parade on Constitution Ave.:
The parade kicks off at 11:45am at the intersection of 7th and Constitution. The parade features celebrities, marching bands, war heroes and more! Stay until the end or leave a bit early to head over to the Capitol lawn to grab a spot for the evening concert
Watch “A Capitol Fourth” preformed on the Capitol lawn:
Gates open at 3:00pm, so head over early to find the best viewing spot. Performers include Jordin Sparks, Phillip Phillips, Patti Labelle and more. The concert begins at 8:00pm and will be broadcast live on PBS.
See the fireworks launch on the National Mall:
The fireworks begin immediately after the last concert act (around 9:15) and are viewable from the lawn. If you are anywhere on the lawn you’ll have great seats, especially if you have a good view of the Washington Monument. Check out this list of the best places to see the fireworks.
Tips from the Pros:
- Don’t buy a flag at the parade they’ll give them out for free at the concert!
- Have at least one person in your group go without a bag. There is a “bag free” line to get into the Capitol lawn and it is always much shorter. Your designated group member can head in and steak out a spot.
- Pack your lunch-picnic style for fun on the lawn rather than overpaying for concessions.
- Water, water, water! Although Friday will be the coolest day of the week (forecasted in the lower 80s), there will be an estimated 700,000 people on the mall, and that many bodies in one area, with likely no shade, can add up to overheating and dehydration. The city will most likely have water bottle refill stations on the mall so keep your bottles and reuse them.
- Remove all weapons and alcohol from your bags. Security personnel will search through your bags, so don’t try to sneak anything in. Here is a complete list of things NOT to bring.
- If you are going to the concert early and want to save seats, have your friends all go together because they stamp hands and close off the first section for safety precautions to guests arriving late. You can take turns holding spots once you are all stamped in.
- Pay attention to the security checkpoints and metro schedule in order to plan your best route accordingly.
Follow these tips to ensure you have a safe and happy fourth!