Where Have All the Fireworks—and Fun—Gone?

On July 4, 2001, our family continued its longtime tradition of packing up the car, getting the kids, and driving  down to the National Mall to watch the fireworks. The DC Police and Park Police were very relaxed about where you parked. Our strategy was to park illegally as close to the Lincoln Memorial as possible and I usually was able to get us no more than 100 yards away.

We’d take blankets, food, and drink and get a spot on the lawn near the Lincoln Memorial. We’d say hello to a few regulars we knew from previous years, put the blankets down, and wait until about 9:15 for the fireworks.

We’d then lie back on the blankets and look up at the spectacular display above us. Lots of oohing and aahing.

We’d pack up our stuff, walk back to the car, and usually be home in 20 or 25 minutes.

And then came the 9/11 attacks on Washington and New York.

The next year, in 2002, there were rigid controls on parking and it meant a much longer walk to the Mall. There you’d go through security checkpoints where they’d inspect what you were carying. Gone was much in the way of food and drink.

The fireworks still were good. But a lot more walking and hassle if you had kids along.

2002 or 2003 might have been our last July 4th on the Mall—we looked for other places where we could watch. One year a sometime writer invited us to his Watergate condo to join a party to eat, drink, and watch the fireworks from his terrace. No kids. We only did that one year.

In later years we sometimes looked for fireworks being set off at area country clubs–we parked nearby and sat by the car. Sort of okay.

Now, with the Coronavirus and social distancing, even the country clubs have surrendered. It’s TV or nothing.

And no baseball either.


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