Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Were you bursting with patriotism?

The 4th is one of my favorite holidays. I'm happy to be an American. I love this country and all it offers. I love the monuments, the parks, the availability of everything, the kitsh, the open roads, the little towns, the high rises... everything. I love U.S. patriotic music and I believe our flag to be the most beautiful in the world.

It was 10 years since the last time we'd spent our 4th in downtown DC, and it'll be years before we take it on again. Aside from the minor sunburn, it was well worth it.

At 11:30 a.m., the nine of us met at Federal Triangle metro stop and made our way to the parade route. We stayed the length of it and took snaps of the Thomas and Magic Schoolbus balloons. The bands were OK but we gave the biggest cheer to the Medieval Times knights (our red knight traded colors to blue!). After two hours in the heat, we found a cooler spot in the Post Office Pavilion for lunch. It's amazing how the crowds were nonexistent with the security checks at each door, as well as the entrance to the Mall where the yearly Folk Life Festival is held. The Festival this year focused on the Forest Service, Food and the country of Oman. It was actually better than it sounds. I don't know if this was done in past years, but there was a booklet for kids with activities to complete that either could be done on their own or by finding the answers at various booths. A different stamp was put on each completed page, making it a bit of a scavenger hunt.
Around 5 we made the trek to the west Capitol lawn to stake out a space for the Capitol Fourth. The concert began at 8 but even by 5 the center lawn was full. Apparently the Beach Boys were rehearsing so folks made a day of sitting on the lawn. Considering there was a separate security check just for the concert, those folks were pretty dedicated to their beach towels and folding chairs. There weren't even vendors in the area so picnics had to be brought in, and no grilling. Thankfully there was free water.
We didn't get a great spot on the southern end of the lawn, but we could see the giant screen above the trees and hear the concert well. Neat sheets are a fabulous creation and we layed two down so we could play cards and let people nap if they wanted. Jonathon did eventually succumb around 8:30 but it was short-lived as we packed up and stood by the reflecting pond to watch the canons fire for the 1812 overture. Thanks to Gloria Estevan singing a song that went way over time, the fireworks started before the 1812 overture. I wonder how it turned out on TV.
Our attempt to make it near the metro before the end of the fireworks failed. The Mall lawn was packed and the walking paths with any view were packed. We got caught in the crowd and decided once the fireworks were over to take out time getting out of the city. Smithsonian was closed and Federal Triangle was next closest with a line up the escalator and half way to the sidewalk. We stopped for ice cream. Then decided to get to Metro Center. There was a backlog trying to get to the turnstyle, but once through, the platform wasn't packed and we made it on the first train to come through. Not only that, we scored seats which is just about unheard of.
Calzones and hot dogs, ice cream, about 30 bottles of water and soda, a couple miles of walking with plenty of dust, parade, festival, concert and fireworks. We were tired, but happy with a successful day of celebrating our nation.

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