Thursday, July 8, 2010

A DC 4th of July

I love the 4th of July. Parades, good food, good music, fireworks - many of my favorite things. So I was excited to be spending the 4th in DC for the first time, to see if our nation's capital could celebrate in style. While I failed to do enough research in advance and missed out on a lot of the celebration, it was still a night to remember.

The Good:

Like I mentioned before, I didn't do enough research in advance, so my 4th of July plans were a lot less than normal. However, I did spend a fun evening with some friends from the Newman Center! We met up around dinner time at a friend's apartment and snacked on some tasty treats - I provided pasta salad and delicious watermelon, two essential summer foods. Then we packed up the cars, drove to the metro station and hopped over a couple of stops to Rosslyn (more on the metro adventure later!). We decided to watch the fireworks from the Iwo Jima Memorial, as it supposedly had good views and was less crowded than going across the river. Well, it was crowded, but it was a wonderful place to sit. We arrived about an hour before the fireworks started and found the most PERFECT seats on the lawn. From where we were, we could see the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Capitol Building lit up in the evening sky, and when the fireworks started, it quieted down and it was a spectacular view. While it was shorter than what I was used to and we didn't have a radio, the fireworks were excellent! There were tons of people taking very professional photographs, but we all preferred to just enjoy the show! It was quite an experience to see our nation celebrating over iconic images for our country.

The Bad:

The Metro... what can I say? Leading up to the celebration, everyone and everything was recommending that people take public transportation to get to the fireworks. Many of the roads to get across the river were closed which would make traffic awful. However, we were not across the river, but still thought that the metro was best. What an adventure. They had cops and metro police everywhere trying to streamline the process, but it was still a fiasco. I can't imagine how awful it would have been without them there, though. After the fireworks, we waited in line just to get to the escalators about 20 minutes. When we finally reached the platform, the guys managed to run and make their train heading back into the city - they were the lucky ones. We headed down to the platform heading west and began our wait for an orange line train. The platform was packed and sweaty, and each time a train pulled up, people herded each other towards the doors. Unfortunately, there were so many people on the cars already from the district that we were often only able to squeeze a few people onto each car at a time. So we waited... and waited... and waited... finally a train arrived that had room, but we realized as it pulled up that the glass was fogged up on the car. When the doors opened, we saw sweat pouring down people's faces and their looks of horror at the prospect of more people getting onto the un-air conditioned car. One girl wrote on the window in the steam "CAN'T BREATHE!". We decided to skip that car. So we waited... and waited... and waited... finally, after about an hour of waiting, Danielle and I managed to squeeze onto a car. And I mean squeeze. Her ponytail was in my nose and mouth and I think she was standing at a 30° angle to fit inside the door. But we made it! This left the last 4 from our group waiting on the platform, which we found out later that they had made it onto a train and got home.

While it was an epic, sweaty adventure on Metro, we learned a very important lesson - DO NOT TAKE METRO ON THE 4TH!!! Ha! We decided that all the notices to take Metro was a conspiracy - Metro just increased fares, people were everywhere, and it was a way to cash in and try to make up for that budget deficit. Well, maybe it wasn't a conspiracy, but it's a possibility...

The Things I Shouldn't Miss Next Year:

I missed watching a nice orchestra concert. A couple of my friends went to the rehearsal for the Capitol 4th Concert on Saturday night, but I already had plans and wasn't able to make it. That is something I do not want to miss in the future. It is a great way to catch some good music - musical artists and the National Symphony Orchestra - without having to deal with really intense security and major crowds.

Also, growing up in my nice little suburb, I enjoyed the community aspect of the 4th celebration - seeing people you know in the parade, cheering on or marching with the band, grabbing Graeter's Ice Cream from down the street, beating up little kids to get all the Cheryl's cookies (OK, maybe not beating them up...), listening to the community orchestra play patriotic tunes out on the lawn, and watching the fireworks celebration along with the music on the radio. Not surprisingly, DC is not a nice little suburb, and it just can't really do these things like a smaller community can. Next year, I will have to see if any of the communities in NoVA have town parades, concerts, and fireworks so I can still get that community 4th of July celebration.


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