As President Donald Trump sets to make himself part of Washington D.C.’s annual July Fourth celebration next Thursday on the National Mall, Mayor Muriel Bowser addressed concerns about his appearance at a Friday news conference.
The president is scheduled to make a speech at 6:30 p.m. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as part of his planned "Salute to America," which will include a military flyover by the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels.
Previously, Bowser, a Democrat, expressed frustration about not being informed about the president's plans, but on Friday she downplayed any concerns, saying that while “activities may look a little different” this holiday, it will be much like any other major event in the nation's capital.
“We have a very experienced team in dealing with large scale issues and events here on our National Mall and surrounding areas,” said Bowser. “We are always hyper-focused focused on the Fourth of July because we have so many people moving in and out of our city. It's a wonderful celebration people spending hours and hours on the mall in the hot sun so we are always focused on making sure people are safe,” she said. The federal government would be billed after the event for any additional costs incurred by the city, she said.
When asked if there was any worry about police being stretched thin with the addition of the president, and with possible tension between Trump supporters and others on the National Mall, Bowser and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham said there was no reason for public concern.
“Our police department will be fully staffed on the Fourth of July and that is no different than any other Fourth of July,” said Bowser. “On the Fourth of July everybody works at the Metropolitan Police Department.”
Newsham added, “We will be fully staffed the changes are not significant enough to cause us concern most of the additional activities will be on federal property which is patrolled by federal police officers.”
Asked if military would help at the event, Newsham answered that there will be some members of the National Guard on hand, but that is normal for a Fourth of July in D.C.
The feminist activist group Code Pink has successfully applied for a permit to fly the 20-foot "Trump Baby" balloon earlier this month, and plans to fly it near the Lincoln Memorial.
In the press conference, National Park Service Superintendent Jeff Reinbold said the permit is still pending as an agreement on how to inflate the balloon is ongoing. He said the Park Service wants it filled with cold air instead of helium so that if it were to come loose it wouldn't fly into restricted airspace or interfere with the military flyovers.
Individual, smaller "Trump baby" balloons are also being sold for the holiday, but balloons are on the list of prohibited items for the area.
“The folks at the access point will be monitoring what goes in there, and if they are on the prohibited items list, they will not be allowed in the area," said Robert MacLean, chief of the United States Park Police. "If they comply with the prohibited items list, then we will let that first amendment activity or any other item in."
During the holiday, many streets will be closed and with the addition of the White House involvement, possibly more than on the previous years.
Bolstered by a $750,000 donation from Phantom Fireworks and Fireworks by Grucci, the Park Service said this year's fireworks will set a record.
With President Trump expected to be watching, the first fireworks will start at 9:07 p.m. at the Lincoln Memorial followed by a second round set off in West Potomac Park a short distance away for a show lasting a total of 35 minutes -- the longest show in D.C.'s history.