Crowds flock to National Mall for ‘Salute to America’ fireworks

Fourth of July fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol, along the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Fourth of July fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol, along the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Fourth of July fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol, along the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Fourth of July fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol, along the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Fireworks explode around the Washington Monument during a "Salute to America" event with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump at the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Fireworks explode around the Washington Monument during a “Salute to America” event with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump at the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Fourth of July fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol along the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Fourth of July fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol along the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Fourth of July fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol, along the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Fourth of July fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol, along the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Fourth of July fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol, along the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Fourth of July fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol, along the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Fireworks light up the sky above the National Mall just before 9:30 p.m. July 4 during the “Salute to America.” (WTOP/Ken Duffy)

Fourth of July fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol, along the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Fourth of July fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol, along the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The White House is illuminated with red, white and blue lights as fireworks burst in the distance during a "Salute to America" event Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The White House is illuminated with red, white and blue lights as fireworks burst in the distance during a “Salute to America” event Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Fireworks burst near the White House, lit in red, white and blue for Independence Day, as seen through a security fence near a section of 16th Street that's been renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington.(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
Fireworks burst near the White House, lit in red, white and blue for Independence Day, as seen through a security fence near a section of 16th Street that’s been renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington.(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump stand on the Truman Balcony of the White House as they watch a fireworks display during a "Salute to America" event, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump stand on the Truman Balcony of the White House as they watch a fireworks display during a “Salute to America” event, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The White House, center, is obscured by Red and Blue smoke from fireworks on the Ellipse during a "Salute to America" event on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The White House, center, is obscured by Red and Blue smoke from fireworks on the Ellipse during a “Salute to America” event on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump watch as the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform a flyover during a "Salute to America" event on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump watch as the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform a flyover during a “Salute to America” event on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly over the White House during a "Salute to America" event on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly over the White House during a “Salute to America” event on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly over the White House during a "Salute to America" event on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly over the White House during a “Salute to America” event on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

World War II military aircraft fly over the National Mall in Washington on Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
World War II military aircraft fly over the National Mall in Washington on Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

President Donald Trump speaks during a "Salute to America" event on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump speaks during a “Salute to America” event on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump watch as the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team descend during a "Salute to America" event on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump watch as the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team descend during a “Salute to America” event on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Service members stand on the South Lawn of the White House during a "Salute to America" event with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Service members stand on the South Lawn of the White House during a “Salute to America” event with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Donald Trump
Melania Trump
Guests wait for President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump during a “Salute to America” event on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Donald TrumpMelania Trump
Guests wait for a “Salute to America” event to start and President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Minutes before the start of the flyover, crowds on the National Mall picked up, but were still smaller than in years past, according to WTOP reporter Ken Duffy. (WTOP/Ken Duffy)

The southern portion of the National Mall was nearly empty as of about 5:30 p.m., just over an hour before the start of the flyover. (WTOP/Ken Duffy)

The crowd on the National Mall early in the afternoon was light, WTOP’s Ken Duffy reported. But people from as far as California came to see the festivities. (WTOP/Ken Duffy)

One of four security checkpoints to enter the National Mall on July 4. (WTOP/Ken Duffy)

U.S. Park Police set up mask giveaway stations near the National Mall and had more than 300,000 masks to give out to visitors. (WTOP/Ken Duffy)

U.S. Park Police had given away eight boxes full of these packs of masks as of about 4:15 p.m. (WTOP/Ken Duffy)

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Fourth of July fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol, along the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Fourth of July fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol, along the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Fireworks explode around the Washington Monument during a "Salute to America" event with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump at the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Fourth of July fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol along the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Fourth of July fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol, along the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Fourth of July fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol, along the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Fourth of July fireworks explode over the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol, along the National Mall in Washington, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
The White House is illuminated with red, white and blue lights as fireworks burst in the distance during a "Salute to America" event Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Fireworks burst near the White House, lit in red, white and blue for Independence Day, as seen through a security fence near a section of 16th Street that's been renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington.(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump stand on the Truman Balcony of the White House as they watch a fireworks display during a "Salute to America" event, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The White House, center, is obscured by Red and Blue smoke from fireworks on the Ellipse during a "Salute to America" event on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump watch as the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and U.S. Navy Blue Angels perform a flyover during a "Salute to America" event on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly over the White House during a "Salute to America" event on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds fly over the White House during a "Salute to America" event on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
World War II military aircraft fly over the National Mall in Washington on Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
President Donald Trump speaks during a "Salute to America" event on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump watch as the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team descend during a "Salute to America" event on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Service members stand on the South Lawn of the White House during a "Salute to America" event with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Donald Trump
Melania Trump
Donald TrumpMelania Trump

D.C. is the focal point of celebrations for America’s 244th birthday Saturday, with a July 4 celebration featuring a speech from President Trump, flyovers and a fireworks show billed as “the biggest ever.”

Despite warnings from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to stay home during the holiday to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the National Mall opened for visitors and U.S. Park Police had 300,000 masks on hand for the event. More than 100 hand washing stations were also placed throughout the Mall. The Department of the Interior and National Park Service urged visitors to follow CDC guidelines for gatherings, including wearing a mask and social distancing.

Along with those that turned out on the National Mall, crowds also gathered to protest during the holiday elsewhere in the District.

The first fireworks kicked off the festivities on the National Mall at around 7 p.m., after an Air Force One flyover. The audience for the initial festivities was light, but the crowd grew in anticipation of the 9 p.m. fireworks display. The show went off without a hitch just after 9 p.m.

As part of the earlier military air show, five vintage WWll aircraft in tight formation flew over the National Mall just before 7:30 p.m., a slew of other aircraft streaked over the lawn about 30 minutes later.

President Trump delivered remarks at the White House as part of the “Salute to America.” Repeating some of what he said at Mount Rushmore on Friday, the President took aim at protesters toppling Confederate monuments and spoke about an executive order he signed to create a new park that will house statues of American heroes.

“Those that are lying about our history, those who want us to be ashamed of who we are, are not interested in justice or in healing. Their goal is demolition. Our goal is not to destroy the greatest structure on earth, what we have built, the United States of America,” Trump said.

President Donald Trump speaks during a “Salute to America” event on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The president touched on the pandemic as well, saying the U.S. will develop a therapeutic and or vaccine solution to the coronavirus “long before the end of the year.”

Minutes before the President’s speech and moments before the flyovers began, WTOP’s Ken Duffy reported crowds were small on the Mall compared to previous July 4 celebrations. About half the crowd appeared to be wearing masks, according to Duffy.

“I was definitely expecting to see some more people just because of the other events I’ve been to down here before,” Arlington resident William Klein who attended the event, said just before 6 p.m. “But it is early, so maybe they’ll be more later on.”

Klein compared the crowd at that point to that of an average Saturday or Sunday crowd on the Mall.

But Duffy reported one of the free masks stations that opened early in the afternoon had given out eight boxes of masks by around 4:15 p.m.

Among those gathered on the Mall early in the afternoon, Duffy spoke with people who traveled from Alabama, Tennessee and from as far as California for the event.

“If that virus is going to take me, it’s going to take me,” a visitor from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, told Duffy. “We’re taking all of our precautions, but I’m just here with my lady staying away from everybody just following the protocols.”

WTOP’s Ken Duffy contributed to this report. 

This content was republished with permission from CNN.

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