To me, Independence Day is a pretty special day on Capitol Hill. Yes there is the deep meaning of living so close to the federal government on a day we remember our declaration of freedom and how special and unique that is. Sure, there’s that. But Capitol Hill seems to take on a very small-town feel on July the Fourth. The small yards we have are utilized for family and neighbor barbecues, and in the evening the sky fills with light and smoke like a war zone as legal (and perhaps less than legal) fireworks are ignited. We even have a parade, but not one with giant balloons and TV celebrities. It’s a parade like I remember growing up that includes scout troops and local schools and the fire department. There are plenty of larger-scale events to enjoy as well, though – something for everyone this Independence Day.
Since July 4th falls in the middle of the week this year, there may be more people in town for the holiday. If you’re wondering what to do besides the standard hamburgers and watermelon, here are some options to boost your patriotism.
Kick off the holiday on Tuesday afternoon at the National Freedomfest at Yards Park. This ticketed event features over 40 bands and DJs, food, drinks, crafts, and more 2:00 – 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday and 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday. More information and tickets are available here.
For years, A Capitol Fourth has been a tradition both live on the west front of the U.S. Capitol and on public television. You can certainly venture down and camp out all day for a great seat for the event and the fireworks beyond on Wednesday, but the public is also invited to attend the dress rehearsal on Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. The gates open at 3:00 p.m. and you can expect basically the same show you’ll see on Wednesday minus the fireworks finale. If you can’t get enough Jimmy Smits you can even attend both nights.
Wednesday morning you can be a marcher or a spectator in the annual 4th of July Parade on Capitol Hill. Marchers assemble starting at 9:00 a.m. under the overpass at 8th and I Streets SE. The parade begins at 10:00 a.m. and marches north on 8th Street SE, ending at the Eastern Market Metro plaza. Participation in the parade is free but advanced registration is appreciated. Spectators can expect bands, dancers, school groups, and other marchers that represent aspects of life on the Hill.
Exercise your right to exercise on July 4th before you head out to that picnic or barbecue. Results Gym will be open regular hours (though no regularly scheduled classes), Gold’s Gym will be open with a modified class schedule, and Capitol Hill Yoga will be offering a special workshop at 10:00 a.m.
What could be more patriotic than a day a the ball park? Head to Nationals Park for the 11:05 a.m. game against the San Francisco Giants. The early game will get you home in time for that barbecue.
If you aren’t the grilling type but enjoy a good smoke ring on your meat, head over to Sonoma for holiday barbecue specials from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Enjoy, be safe, and have a great day celebrating your independence.