Thursday, July 2, 2020

Get Out! ....On Second Thought, Stay In! For the Fourth of July

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by Peggy Robin

Normally, my "Get Out!" column on the Thursday before the Fourth of July would spell out the holiday details for you, giving helpful tips about attendance at the festivities on the National Mall – you know, Metro schedule changes, street closings, parade times, entry checkpoint locations, and more.

This time, you’re on your own. These are NOT normal times, and instead of saying “Get out and enjoy the fireworks," I’m saying, "Better to be safe and stay home." It doesn't matter how protective your mask is -- you'll still be at increased risk as you pass through one of a few narrow checkpoints, where thousands of other people –any one of whom could be a "super-spreader"– will have passed through before you. 

Once you are inside the secure area, you may lay down your picnic blanket and stake out a buffer zone well over six feet away from any other visitor group – but how will you maintain it? There are bound to be troupes of teenagers, or college kids, or beer buddies, or any number of other odd collections of humanity, who will pass your way, carelessly invading your safety perimeter. And you can bet they will be wearing their masks down around their chins -- that's if they haven't removed them entirely. Be prepared to yell at them....although that will most likely result in people yelling right back at you -- and yelling, as we know, is a prime way that airborne droplets can fly the farthest. 

Why expose yourself? You are not going to have a good time.

Now, I have always loved a well-choreographed fireworks display, and I know that the TV screen can't capture the sensations of being there on the ground -- but this year you have got to contemplate much more than a half an hour of splendor while the night sky is lit up with cascades of colorful sparks -- waterfalls, haloes and starbursts. This year the experience you need to contemplate at length is what it would feel like to be hooked up to a ventilator -- and that would be something lasting far longer than that half-hour of fireworks you enjoyed. Not a worthwhile trade-off for anyone, to my mind. 

Still, if you are bound and determined not to miss the annual event, let me send you to this article in Washingtonian, which will tell you what you need to know to attend: Once you've read that, you might also want to read this piece in DCist about the show, which includes some sage advice from Mayor Bowser, urging DC residents to stay home:

Oh, and just one more thing about this year's holiday, that needs to be noted. Even if you do stay home, you are bound to experience all the noise of a live fireworks display – and it will doubtless go on for hours. That’s because – for reasons I can’t begin to fathom – lots of kids and maybe even some adults, have been setting off fireworks, doing it every night, for the past several weeks. On the fourth of July, they’re bound to be out in larger numbers than ever, in every neighborhood of the city, and the bangs and pops may go on till dawn. The Washington Post reported on this problem – see –  but it's not just here  in DC; in every major city, people are setting off fireworks, night after night, with no sign of stopping (see 

Here's hoping that the official fireworks holiday on the Fourth will serve as the grande finale of all this ear-shattering uproar. But given the way that things are trending these days, I have to tell you, I am not optimistic.

Even so, I wish you and yours a safe, healthy, and if at all possible, peaceful Fourth of July.

The Get Out!/Stay In! column is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.  

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