Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Independence Day in DC with Kids

"Someday," I have always said. "Someday we will take the kids to see the fireworks on the Mall. Maybe even go to the concert on the Capitol lawn."

Because, why shouldn't we? It's free. We can park in my work lot, a block away from the Capitol. The kids love fireworks. Gramma is in town.

2011, yesterday, was that someday.

If you're considering your own visit to Washington DC's celebration of America's birthday, here are some tips from my first-hand experience. I hope you find them helpful.

Do not, for example, eat dinner at home at six o'clock and then breeze into the city for the 8 pm event.

But I have guaranteed parking nearby.
Yes, but you will still need to drag your entire sweating and complaining family for half-mile, around barricades and fencing, to the security checkpoint.

But the concert is broadcast on big screens, so you don't need to see the stage.
Yes, and the people who have been waiting on the West Lawn all day will have a clear view of the screens. You, and your sweating and complaining family, will not be able to see them. If you move around twice, further back and toward the porta-potties, you might be able to see a little bit of the top of one of them.

Because it's fricken hot in DC in the summer. And it rains. A lot. It rains so much that your initial brilliant idea - attend the dress rehearsal of the concert the night before - will be closed to the public because of dangerous thunderstorms. It is so hot that after one hour your Minnesotan mother will insist that the sweat running into her eye might actually kill her. It will also start to rain lightly during the concert, prompting you and your husband to pull the plug on this whole ill-advised adventure.

But Independence Day is always in July.
I don't know what to tell you about that. I have no solution. Try Canada Day.

Guess how I gained the knowledge that the view was a little better closer to the porta-potties?

Bump's last-minute decision to "try Hains Point" after fleeing the Capitol was inspired. We found easy parking at the golf course, and had an unobstructed view of the very impressive pyrotechnic display.

I heard it was difficult to leave Hains Point after the fireworks are over.
Whoever told you that was lying. It is not difficult. It is absolutely impossible. There is one exit, everyone is trying to use it, and you're at the end of the line. The two firetrucks taking up three lanes of the outbound Fourteenth Street Bridge aren't going to do you any favors, either.

Five minutes into the drive home, he will demand apple juice, chug it, then throw up. He will also be a whiny pain-in-the-ass in general, conning Gramma into carrying him most of the time and fish-flopping through the fireworks.

She will also screw around during the fireworks, insist that they are taking too long, and encourage her little brother to misbehave. Your husband will have to take them both back to the van before the finale. This girl will also complain during the entire hour-and-a-half drive home that your husband is driving too slow and demand to know why you are not home yet.

He will thoroughly enjoy the fireworks show, and authoritatively announce the names of many of the bursts.

"It's a Toy Poodle!"

"That's a Golden Temple."

"Rainbow Star!"

He will declare these things with great conviction, even though he is clearly making that shit up (unless all fireworks coincidentally have the same names as Wii game items and the washable markers he likes to use).

The first words he will say the next morning are "Did you like the fireworks last night, Mama?" and offer that he is patiently waiting a whole year before he can see them again.

But based on his father's clenched-teeth pronouncement of "Remind me never to leave the house again on the Fourth of July," perhaps Lumpyhead shouldn't count on it.


Anonymous said...

Oh, how the 4th of July celebrations have changed from days of old. This made me smile. -AnnieO

Anonymous said...

Or...or...wait until Nathan Jr. is the age Lumpyhead is now, and by then you will have forgotten this horror and all three will be old enough to enjoy the Golden Temple and the Toy Poodle!
- Work Sarah (who has never been brave enough to return to the Mall on July 4 since giving birth)

Stimey said...

How have we never gotten our children together? We could seriously wreak some havoc.

Also? You are very brave. I commend you. I walk no farther than a block from my house on July 4.

xdm said...

We lit pathetic little fizzlers in the middle of our street with some neighbors. Beck looked on, in awe, and said, "This should be on YouTube!" (how are you all, btw?)

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

I always say "someday" too.

Now I remember why I never do it.

And I will be certain not to take your children with me.

Violet said...

I would really love to take our nearly 6 year old to the fireworks display on Guy Fawkes night, but if I think too hard about the crowds I just might forget about it...