Our family loves the 4th of July. Our town in Idaho has a large celebration with a parade and a huge fireworks display. It is the largest west of the Mississippi River. So we were excited about spending the 4th on the Mall in Washington DC. We were going to start with the parade. Since it was a holiday, parking was free.
We found a spot near the front of the parade, which starts near the National Archives building and runs down Constitution Avenue. Since we were at the beginning we had the opportunity to sit in the Grand Marshal’s vehicle. It was pretty appropriate for the 4th celebration.
The parade started with the military groups.
Since the Grand Marshal was the National Mall parks superintendent, Patty Trap, the Park’s Service had a float.
The Salvation Army Band marched by and there was a cute girl handing out small flags
There was a variety of vehicles
Numerous marching bands from various states
Balloons of all shapes and sizes
A variety of floats
Various nationality groups
A few horses
And lots of flags
Even though it was very hot, we enjoyed the parade and it was a good way to start the 4th of July. We started our walk towards the Washington Monument and stopped for much needed shade at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. The garden was opened in 1999 and covers a little over 6 acres. There is a large fountain as well as numerous contemporary sculptures.
During the last week of June and the week of the 4th of July, the National Mall hosts the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This year, the festival featured the country of Armenia and Spain’s area of Catalonia, which encompasses 4 provinces. We started at the Armenian exhibits.
There were demonstrations of bread making, stone carving, weaving, and iron works.
Whitney and Wyatt especially liked the pottery demonstration.
Next we were on to Catalonia where we found the Gigantes y Cabezudos or translated “Giants and Big-Head”. These are used in festivals and parades. You could go inside the costumes.
There was also an area where you could wear the puppet frame and practice balancing a ball to see what it takes to be a puppet dancer.
We ate Spanish toasted cheese sandwiches
The afternoon was extremely hot and we were able to experience a “big city” treat. The Washington DC Fire Department brought out their tanker and created a street water party.
We wanted to find a spot between the Washington Monument and the reflecting pool to watch the 4th of July fireworks show. As we slowly walked the Mall, we stopped and signed the National Christmas Card for the Troops.
We continued toward the Washington Monument. Due to earthquake damage in 2011, you currently can not enter the structure. However you can walk around the exterior and there is a small visitor’s center/gift shop. The monument was started in 1848 but not completed until 1885. It is 555 feet tall and resembles an Egyptian obelisk. It’s hollow interior contains a spiral staircase as well as an elevator.
After going through security, we found a spot on the lower hill, with a perfect view of the Lincoln Memorial. The fireworks would be fired from the reflecting pool.
To pass the time until nightfall, we brought some funny tape-on mustaches and shared with our new friends.
Two hours before the fireworks show, the National Park service played patriotic music using the speakers set-up around us. The music as well as the growing crowds, only made the wait hard for Whitney and Wyatt.
As it grew dark, the scenery changed and was even more impressive.
And then the first boom of a rocket….
The fireworks show was about 18 minutes long and the finale was good. We still think the fireworks in our hometown are abit better, but you can’t beat the venue of the National Mall.
After the fireworks, we slowly made our way back up the National Mall. We enjoyed the sights of DC at night and appreciated the snowplows that were used to block the streets for pedestrian safety.