Mall fireworks: Viewing spots off limits, security concerns, schedule of events

WASHINGTON – There’s a little less space to watch the fireworks at the National Mall this weekend. And with crowds coming in for the daylong festivities, the National Park Service says visitors should rethink how they’re getting there.

A full slate of events are scheduled for the Mall this Saturday.

And while some of the activities are the same every year, Mike Litterst with the National Park Service says there are changes to the availability of green space to watch the fireworks from the Mall itself.

Ongoing turf restoration of the Mall — between 7th and 14th streets — means that prime firework watching space is off limits for blankets and chairs.

“Use some of those other Metro stations besides Smithsonian — L’Enfant Plaza or Federal Triangle — it may just be a block or two further walk but you’ll deal with less crowds,” Litterst says.

He suggests visitors leave extra time to navigate their way to where they’ll lay down the blanket and enjoy the more than 6,000 round, 17-minute show scheduled to burst at 9:09 pm.



In light of a recent terrorist threat against the U.S. on Independence Day, security will be stringent on the Mall this weekend. Police say the list of items you can bring through security has not changed.

U.S. Park Police says it is working with a number of partners to ensure the day stays safe.

“Rest assured that we have concentric circles of security. It will be well patrolled and well monitored,” says Lt. Allan Griffith with U.S. Park Police.

Griffith says no alcohol, fireworks, weapons or drones will be allowed through security access points. He asks those that plan to be around the National Mall  stay aware of their surroundings, and report anything that looks odd.

Police have set up a text notification system to quickly dispense emergency information to visitors. Cell phone users can recieve notifications via text message by texting JULY4DC to 888-777

Other prohibited items:

  • alcohol
  • fireworks
  • drones
  • grills
  • glass containers

Items subject to inspection:

  • coolers
  • backpacks
  • packages
  • strollers
  • carriers

Police say pets are not allowed, unless they are service dogs.

“For several weeks the planning teams have been working,” says D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier. “There have been multiple exercises, drills, plans that we’ve [gone through].”

She says police are aware of online chatter about attacks, but there is no specific threat at the moment.

D.C. Police are always at full deployment during Fourth of July.

In a way, Lanier says, the response at Navy Yard Thursday should be comforting.

“I think this event show that you have a city that’s very well prepared,” she says. “You have a city that has a lot of local, federal law enforcement assets that are very-well coordinated; we work together every day.”


Starting with the National Folk Life Festival that runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. highlighting the culture of Peru, to the Fourth of July parade that begins at 11:45 a.m. running down Constitution Avenue, there are plenty of events to keep visiting family and friends busy.

As for other events of the day, the United States Air Force Band Concert begins on the Washington Monument grounds from 6 pm until the start of the fireworks after 9 p.m. The Capitol Fourth Concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol runs from 8 pm through 9:30 p.m.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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