A Capitol Idea

This week, I’m remembering my Independence Day adventures from the past. Three years ago, my wife and I spent the day in Washington, DC before heading off to a vacation in the Northwest.

After a long day downtown, would it be worth fighting the crowds to see the Fourth of July fireworks in Washington, DC? On July 4, 2010, my wife and son and I decided it was. As a bonus, we got to hear the music from “A Capitol Fourth” and almost see the stage.

Our original plan was to go to a local fireworks display in Falls Church. Then I got the idea to go see the Mets play the Nationals that afternoon. Then we decided to start our Sunday with Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Since we were all the way downtown, why not stay for the fireworks?

July 4 2010 fireworks in Washington DC by Pyro Shows Two days before the Fourth, I heard a report on WTOP.com that Pyro Shows of LaFollette was planning a “most intense show” on the National Mall. I am partial to their fireworks because of the fine display they put on in Knoxville at Boomsday each year. Washington must be where they experiment with new things to impress their hometown crowd on Labor Day weekend.

faces in the crowd at "A Capitol Fourth" 2010 reverse view of "A Capitol Fourth" stage, from near the Army cannons After the baseball game, we rode the Metrorail over to the Mall. The crowds were not as bad as I feared and we decided to stay. After grabbing a salad for dinner in the lower level food court at Union Station, we trekked back toward the Capitol. I was surprised how close we could get. Before long we were breezing through the security checkpoint to the Capitol grounds for the concert that was airing live on PBS. I made a wisecrack on Twitter about the smaller crowds being due to the presence of David Archuleta but I’ve got to say that he sounded great on “Stand By Me.” He was appropriately sappy for the circumstances without being overly cheesy like Taylor Hicks was a couple of years ago.

US Army cannons ready for 1812 Overture at "A Capitol Fourth" 2010 US Capitol through cannon smoke during "1812 Overture" at "A Capitol Fourth" When Lang Lang started performing, a significant number of people, myself included, left to seek out a better vantage point for the fireworks. It wasn’t Lang Lang’s fault. He is amazingly talented. It’s just that we realized we had absolutely no view of the area where the blasts would be. We ended up near the US Army cannons used for the “1812 Overture.”

We knew that the biggest challenge of the day would be riding the Metrorail back to our car. Instead of using the Smithsonian station like most people, we went to Federal Center and actually got a seat. Those getting on after us were packed in like proverbial sardines. All in all, it was an ideal day to celebrate America and an ideal day for my wife to wear her Lady Gaga Liberty sunglasses.

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