Making the Fourth Happen

The National Park Service (NPS) will once again host its annual celebration of Independence Day on the National Mall. For more than half a century, the NPS has been at the heart of the Independence Day festivities on the National Mall. Every year thousands of people come together on the Mall in honor of the founding of our nation. But what does it take to get the National Mall ready for such a large event? You'd be surprised.

In preparation for the Fourth, NPS maintenance employees oversees the installation of 18,000 linear feet of chain link fencing and 14,000 feet of bike rack. Almost 350 portable toilets are placed throughout the Mall. U.S. Park Police (USPP) works in conjunction with multiple agencies to plan security for the event to ensure the safety of visitors. Rangers work with the fireworks contractor to safely get the 6,500 shells into place. Others plan the concert at Sylvan Theater, working with performers and making sure that the correct lights and sound systems are available and in place. A multi-agency team plans for medical aid stations. Volunteers are recruited and trained. Maps and informational signs are created.

On the holiday itself, about 150 NPS employees and more than 100 volunteers work on the National Mall and another 50 people work at George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP). Staff and volunteer crews collect trash and recycling throughout the day. Medical aid stations are set up and manned. Rangers continue to give talks at the memorials throughout the day. Access points are staffed and visitors brought through security.

After the fireworks are set off, another whole round of work begins. Cleanup crews begin their work at 10 p.m. on the Fourth and work into the next day. Park staff and volunteers quickly remove fireworks debris from the reflecting pool and the fallout area after the event to make sure it is safe for visitors. Streets are swept clean and roads are reopened as soon as possible.

It’s a big job, but one the National Park Service gets better at every year.

Have a happy Independence Day! Enjoy the show!


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