Trump in Iowa
Credit: Flickr/Max Goldberg

Where I live in Pennsylvania, it’s now rare for the major fireworks displays to be scheduled for the Fourth of July unless the date falls on a Friday or Saturday. Sometimes the celebration happens early and sometimes it happens quite late. For some reason, the place we like to go isn’t blowing things up until the 12th. I don’t even like fireworks, but I take my kid to see them anyway. I just find it hard to get in the right kind of patriotic mood when the display is far removed from the nation’s birthday.

Donald Trump has it right, however, and he’s scheduled his big party on the Fourth, in Washington, D.C. I don’t know if he has a rain date as a backup though, and looking at the forecast I see that this may have been an unfortunate oversight. There will be scattered thunderstorms in D.C. on the Fourth, with a 50 percent chance of rain. A lot will depend on the timing and severity of the rain and lightning, but it doesn’t seem like the best time to gather a bunch of people out in the open on the Washington Mall. The whole thing could be an expensive fiasco:

The National Park Service is diverting nearly $2.5 million in entrance and recreation fees primarily intended to improve parks across the country to cover costs associated with President Trump’s Independence Day celebration Thursday on the Mall, according to two individuals familiar with the arrangement.

That’s not even close to the total price tag.

The diverted park fees represent just a fraction of the extra costs the government faces as a result of the event, which will include displays of military hardware, flyovers by an array of jets including Air Force One, the deployment of tanks on the Mall and an extended pyrotechnics show. By comparison, according to former Park Service deputy director Denis P. Galvin, the entire Fourth of July celebration on the Mall typically costs the agency about $2 million.

The whole thing is supposed to be capped with the president delivering a “Salute to America” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Yet, the White House is starting to worry that the event will be lightly attended.

Maybe some people will come to see all the military hardware on display:

“Two Abrams tanks, two Bradley Fighting Vehicles and an M88 recovery vehicle sat on train tracks in Southeast Washington on Tuesday, destined for the Mall. … A U.S. defense official … said the Pentagon was not planning for tanks to be involved … until late last week. But after the president requested them, they were shipped up by rail from Fort Stewart in Georgia.

“The list of fighter jets and other planes involved in Thursday’s military flyover also has grown, with the Pentagon carrying out requests from the White House. … The event will include appearances by the Blue Angels, an F-35 jet from the Navy, at least one aircraft from Marine Helicopter Squadron One, … a B-2 stealth bomber … and F-22 Raptor fighter jets.”

A little rain and lightning shouldn’t unduly discomfort the pilots, although low cloud cover might make it a little hard for the Blue Angels to show their stuff.

But, who knows? Maybe the weather gods smile on President Trump and the whole thing goes off without a hitch. Maybe attendance exceeds the low expectations. That won’t prevent massive protests that are scheduled to go on not only on the Fourth, but throughout the holiday weekend.

Of course, the most famous gathering at the Lincoln Memorial was punctuated by Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. I’m pretty confident that if Trump’s speech is remembered nearly as well, it won’t be because it was a success.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at