Security Tight forFourth on Mall; Checkpoints, Monument Closures among Safety Measures
Byline: Guy Taylor, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Keeping the Fourth of July tradition of a massive fireworks display and concert on the National Mall this year comes at the price of tightened security and the partial closing of several monuments.
The U.S. Park Police will inspect coolers and bags of visitors who enter the Mall through 19 checkpoints to "ensure the same level of public safety and security as last year."
Ten checkpoints are spread along Constitution and Independence avenues on both sides of the Mall. Others are peppered around its east and west ends.
D.C. Metropolitan Police officers will monitor a network of 14 closed-circuit video cameras eyeing the crowd on the Mall, the Capitol, the White House and Union Station for suspicious activity.
"Major arteries and highways that pass through downtown" also are under watch, said police, who will deactivate the network "soon after the conclusion of the fireworks."
Headlined by the National Symphony Orchestra, a 90-minute free concert starting at 8 p.m. Sunday on the West lawn of the U.S. Capitol, will feature stars such as Vince Gill, Amy Grant and Barry Bostwick.
The show's finale will be matched by a spectacular display of fireworks set to go off at 9:10 p.m. The pop and glitter can be seen from miles around, but those who make the trek to the Capitol to hear the music and watch from their lawn chairs or spread out blankets will enjoy perhaps the best view as the fireworks light up the night sky.
Other popular spots for viewing the fireworks include East and West Potomac parks, the Ellipse, Capitol Hill, Anacostia Park, the Iwo Jima Memorial and along the George Washington Memorial Parkway on the Virginia side of the Potomac. WMAL-AM will broadcast the free concert beginning at 9:10 p.m. to accompany the display.
Several monuments on and around the Mall will be at least partially closed. A section of the Vietnam Memorial is boarded off while new lighting is installed, and the newly dedicated World War II Memorial will close entirely from late Saturday through Monday. Its fountains will be drained, and large fire-resistant tarps will be draped over its architecture to protect from debris from the fireworks, set off just west of the memorial. …