Despite sweltering heat and the possibility of storms, thousands of people around the D.C. region packed streets for parades and flocked to the National Mall to celebrate the Fourth of July.
The National Independence Day Parade kicked things off in the nation’s capital on Tuesday morning, traveling along Constitution Avenue NW, from 7th to 17th streets. The parade featured bands invited from across the country, floats, military units, equestrian, drill teams and national dignitaries.
Afterward, people in the crowds lining Constitution Avenue headed over to the National Mall to claim their spot for viewing the District’s famous fireworks show.
“Get out here and get a good seat, and so we can see. It’s not so crowded,” Cookie Lewis from Fort Washington, Maryland, said.
Some people traveled long distances, and went to great lengths, to see the show.
“We got up at 2 in the morning in Denver and flew on two planes to get here to see the fireworks,” Jen Grote said.
For her son Grady, being on the Mall for the Fourth of July is a dream come true.
“I’ve always wanted to come here, and I feel like it’s cool that I finally get to come here and see everything,” he said.
Pat from Senegal came to see the fireworks this year for the second time.
“Everybody’s proud to be American, everyone has a smile, puts race and everything else to the side,” Pat said.
Earlier in the day, cities in Fairfax County, Virginia, Montgomery County, Maryland, and most other jurisdictions held parades of their own.
In Takoma Park, Maryland, Olivia Corcoran lined up with the MacMillan Pipe Band at the start of the city’s Fourth of July parade. She first started playing the bagpipes 16 years ago, at age 8: “My mom liked the sound of bagpipes, so I started to play them.”
Sabrina Mandel, with Happenstance Theater, performed with her colleagues in their vintage clown costumes: “They’re characters from our theatrical clown circus called ‘Preposterous.'”
No matter the city, participants and spectators endured muggy weather, with highs reaching 90 degrees on Tuesday afternoon and a heat index in the mid to upper 90s. Scattered storms were in Tuesday’s forecast, but most of the area managed to stay dry.
The night’s fireworks show on the National Mall, along with fireworks set off at celebrations around the region, triggered a Code Orange air quality alert through Thursday.
Starting Tuesday night, sensitive groups including children and older adults should make outdoor activities shorter and less intense.
WTOP’s Kate Ryan and Mike Murillo contributed to this report.