Washington Post: Trump takes charge of DC’s Fourth of July celebration

Posted at 1:37 AM, Jul 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-02 03:37:17-04

President Donald Trump has laid tentative plans to upend the traditional Fourth of July celebrations in Washington, moving the fireworks show from the National Mall and perhaps including an address from the President himself, The Washington Post reported Friday.

The fireworks display on the Mall has been a time-honored nonpartisan tradition for nearly half a century, and Trump’s new vision for Independence Day has caused a stir among city officials and lawmakers, the Post reports.

In February, Trump took to Twitter to tell Americans to “HOLD THE DATE!” for his July Fourth plans: “Major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!”

Since his initial announcement, Trump and his new interior secretary, David Bernhardt — who Trump tasked with the job three months ago — have been finalizing plans for the new celebration, to be titled “A Salute to America.” The plans involve moving the fireworks show closer to the Potomac River and away from the National Mall and adding a second stage for entertainment, as well as an address from the President, according to the Post.

A major Fourth of July parade already takes place in the nation’s capital each year. America’s National Independence Day Parade goes through the heart of downtown Washington and consists “of invited bands, fife and drum corps, floats, military and specialty units, giant balloons, equestrian, drill teams, VIP’s, national dignitaries and celebrity participants,” according to the parade’s website. The DC celebration has been broadcast on television since 1947, and it has included a free concert since 1981 on the lawn of the Capitol.

Lawmakers have expressed fear that Trump’s address to the Independence Day audience could quickly turn partisan, the Post reports.

Since attending the Bastille Day celebration in Paris in 2017, Trump has made a public push for large-scale events where he is the centerpiece. In early 2018, the administration planned a military parade for Veterans Day that was to include tanks rolling through the nation’s capital. The event was eventually postponed, then canceled due to its high costs.

The cancellation of the event led to a spat between the President and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, whose office has been informed of Trump’s proposed changes to this year’s Fourth of July celebration, according to the Post.

One DC official told the Post that the city is concerned about moving the fireworks and about the logistics of the President traveling to the Mall to address the crowds. DC’s tourist population balloons around the national holiday, and the introduction of new entertainment paired with Trump’s address could congest the National Mall even further and prevent tourists from utilizing certain locations. Officials told The Washington Post it is unclear how much the President’s changes to the holiday celebration may cost, but the DC official said the city would expect the federal government to pay for any incurred cost from the new plans set forth by the President.

According to the Post, no president has participated in an Independence Day celebration on the Mall in recent memory, and the commander in chief typically opts to spend the holiday at the White House.

Aides told The Washington Post that the President has shown an interest in the event that he often does not exhibit for other administration priorities.

“If the President moves to make this about him, I think he will find the America public disappointed and angered by it,” Rep. Betty McCollum, a Minnesota Democrat, said in an interview with the Post.