Tuesday, 5 July 2016
National Mall Fireworks Go On Despite Earlier Rain; Some Maryland Events Postponed
Persistent rain Monday left many wondering if Washington, D.C.'s fireworks on the National Mall would happen as planned -- but the rain tapered off, and the show exploded in the capital sky right on time.
The fireworks went off at 9:09 p.m. at the Mall as smaller-than-usual crowds watched. Conditions were still foggy and damp from rains that had been heavy at times earlier in the night.
"Bring umbrellas, that’s for sure," suggested Abdul Ali, who was watching the fireworks.
But the dampness didn't bother other spectators. "I mean, where else is better to watch the 4th of July fireworks than Washington, D.C.?" said Monnalisa Afifi, who was also on the Mall.
The National Mall display has not been postponed in 25 years.
The only hitch in the procedings came earlier in the evening, when the National Park Service and Park Police briefly evacuated the area around portable toilets on the Mall, where visitors could go only after passing a security screening.
Someone had spotted what appeared to be a timing device inside one of the toilets; the device turned out to be a pedometer.
However, the heavy clouds obscured visibility for many watching the show. "A Capitol Fourth," the broadcast of the Mall concert and fireworks that is shown on PBS, admitted on Twitter it had subbed in some footage of previous years' fireworks in its broadcast.
"We showed a combination of the best fireworks from this year and previous years," the Tweet read.
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Other cities and towns gave in to the weather. Fireworks planned in Frederick, Maryland, have been postponed until July 24, Frederick Police tweeted.
Fireworks in College Park, Maryland, have been postponed to Tuesday evening, Mayor Patrick Wojahn said. The show scheduled for Monday in Greenbelt, Maryland, also was rescheduled for Tuesday, the city said on its website. So are the fireworks in Dundalk and Salisbury, Maryland.
The city of Gaithersburg, Maryland, also preemptively canceled their fireworks show. The display was rescheduled for Friday, according to the Twitter account for the city. The fireworks on Solomons Island also were moved to Friday.
The Independence Day parade in Annapolis was cancelled, though the fireworks went on.
Even the White House canceled its annual Fourth of July picnic and fireworks watch because of the weather.
Scheduled performances by rapper Kendrick Lamar and singer-songwriter Janelle Monae went on indoors.
At the event, President Obama said it's important that people remember what "a miracle" the U.S. is and how "incredibly lucky we are that people generations ago were willing to take up arms and fight for our freedom."
"Independence is not something that just happens,'' he said during brief remarks to several hundred people in the White House East Room. "It's something that we have to fight for every single day. It's something that we have to nurture and we have to spread the word and we have to work on."
Monae closed her set by performing "Let's Go Crazy'' in tribute to Prince, who died this year.
Beside the nation's, Obama had another birthday to celebrate: His oldest daughter, Malia, turned 18. He led the audience in singing "Happy Birthday" to her, saying "it's a job of a father to embarrass his daughter."
The artists performed in the White House East Room for an audience of military families, administration staff, and supporters and guests of Obama and his family.
It's the second consecutive year that rain has led Obama and his wife, Michelle, to cancel its annual Fourth of July barbecue for military members and their families.
Also Monday, the Smithsonian's Folk Life Festival closed down outdoor activities at 2:45 p.m. Monday, though activities continued until 5:30 p.m. in the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building.