What to know about Fourth of July celebrations along DC’s National Mall - WTOP News (2024)

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What to know about Fourth of July celebrations along DC’s National Mall - WTOP News (1)

As hundreds of thousands of people are expected to pack the National Mall for Fourth of July festivities Thursday, the National Park Service and U.S. Park Police said they’re working to ensure it’s a safe celebration.

During a news conference Tuesday, officials urged those who plan to be outside to stay hydrated and consider cooling down in Smithsonian museums along the mall early in the day. With the possibility of rain and even thunderstorms on Thursday, U.S. Park Police Spokesman Sgt. Thomas Twiname said there’s a plan in place to clear the area safely.

Visitors are urged to be patient in security lines and consider using public transportation, because a number of roads are scheduled to be closed for most of the day.

“We have a lot of measures that are in place when it comes to security,” Twiname said. “But to maintain a lot of the integrity of those operations, we really don’t provide any of the specifics on it, other than what’s visible as far as the uniform presence, the access control points and just a heightened visibility of our officers on the National Mall Memorial Parks.”

Here’s what to know ahead of Thursday’s celebrations in downtown D.C.


The day is scheduled to start with the National Independence Day Parade, which kicks off at 11:45 a.m. on 7th Street and Constitution Avenue, and travels down Constitution Avenue to 17th Street.

The end of the parade should reach the last stretch of the route by about 2 p.m., said National Park Service Spokesman Mike Litterst.

There will be a family activity area at Sylvan Theater near the Washington Monument. That event, which features a scavenger hunt for kids 10 and older, will start at 1 p.m. and end at 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Capitol Fourth concert on the West Lawn starts at 8 p.m. and ends at 9:30 p.m. It’ll be going on during the fireworks display, Litterst said. The Capitol grounds will open at 3 p.m.

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The firework display is scheduled to begin at 9:09 p.m., and last for 17.5 minutes. It’ll be the 10th consecutive year Garden State Fireworks is putting on the show, Litterst said.

For a full list of Fourth of July events throughout the D.C. region, check out WTOP’s Fourth of July event guide.

Safety and security

The U.S. Park Police will be using a traditional event security system, which Twiname said is similar to one “that you would see at many other either sporting events, concerts and things like that.”

Most of the access points are either on Constitution Avenue west of 15th Street or Independence Avenue west of 15th Street. There will also be one by the Jefferson Memorial.

The secure area from 14th Street to the Lincoln Memorial will open at 1 p.m. The stretch from 14th Street east to the Capitol, meanwhile, is open to anyone, Litterst said.

“There is no bag check, that is not a secure area,” he said.

Litterst recommended leaving extra time to get through security, because the event permit lists 250,000 people as the crowd size.

Weapons, drones and fireworks aren’t allowed through the checkpoints. Alcohol and large coolers are also prohibited, Twiname said. Small coolers under 36 quarts are allowed, as are umbrellas.

Anyone attending with small children should take a picture of them before leaving the house, so law enforcement knows what clothes they’re wearing if they get lost, Litterst said.

High temperatures Thursday are expected to be back in the low 90s, with feels-like temperatures near 100, according to 7News First Alert Senior Meteorologist Brian van de Graaff.

Litterst also recommended drinking a lot of water in advance and using sunscreen.

“Smithsonian museums are open in the afternoon. Take advantage of their free air conditioning and in the heat of the day before you come out and grab that spot for the fireworks,” Litterst said.

D.C. outdoor pools and spray parks will also be open during the Fourth of July to help people cool off. Indoor aquatic centers, however, will be closed. The D.C. Department of Transportation will also stage buses along the National Independence Day Parade route to act as cooling centers starting at 9 a.m.

The Lincoln Memorial will be closed on the Fourth of July, Litterst said, because of nearby construction.

“Currently, half of the stairs are under construction,” Litterst said. “We know the stairs draw a big crowd, and there are concerns of overcrowding and safety issues.”

U.S. Park Police has been using information from its intelligence branch to prepare for the event, Twiname said.

“A lot of our operational planning comes from what they have to give,” Twiname said.

With the higher humidity Thursday, there is also a chance for rain and storms during the afternoon and early evening hours, according to the 7News First Alert Weather team.

In the event of bad weather, they’ll “try to just clear the area as quickly as possible first. In the event that that’s not possible and we need to get people to safety, there is a plan in place where officers will then direct people to the places that are going to be the safest for them to ride out whatever the weather concern is until it’s then safe to clear the area,” Twiname said.

D.C. officials also urged anyone planning on attending Fourth of July festivities to sign up for text updates on public safety impacts, road closures and weather alerts by texting JULY4DC to 888-777.

Road Closures

Officials are urging anyone heading to the National Mall to consider public transportation because of all the road closures that will be in effect.

Road closures will start around 4 a.m. Thursday and will include many roads around the National Mall and Memorial Parks.

“They’re going to be done in sort of a rolling fashion as the event sort of continues to finalize set-up, before the start of the program,” Twiname said.

The closures will include the Arlington Memorial Bridge and Memorial Circle, Constitution Avenue, Independence Avenue and most of East and West Potomac Parks. They’ll remain in effect until the fireworks are finished.

D.C. police have a separate traffic plan and released a list of more specific road closures for the Fourth of July.


Metro is offering free rail and bus rides after 5 p.m. Thursday.

Litterst recommended people use stops other than the Smithsonian station, because of how crowded it may get.

L’Enfant Plaza, Federal Triangle and Foggy Bottom-George Washington University could be alternatives, he said.

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Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.


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Fourth of July | Holiday News | Latest News | Lifestyle News | Local News | Washington, DC Event News | Washington, DC News


DC events | DC Fireworks | fourth of july | independence day | national mall | scott gelman | us park police

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What to know about Fourth of July celebrations along DC’s National Mall - WTOP News (2024)
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