Permit for ‘D.C Day’ at King memorial is in question

The District still does not have a permit from the National Park Service for Tuesday’s “D.C. Day” at the new Martin Luther King Memorial, a spokesman for the Park Service says, even though Mayor Vincent C. Gray has been heavily advertising the event.

Bill Line, a spokesman for the Park Service’s national capital region, said federal officials hope to receive the permit application and $50 filing fee sometime today.

“We instructed them to file a permit and the District is in the process of doing that now,” Line said. “We do not expect to see any glitches or hiccups and it should go forward.”

For more than a week, Gray (D) has been inviting District residents to the memorial, officially slated to open Aug. 28, for a sneak preview on Tuesday.

But there are mounting signs that Park Service officials were caught off guard by Gray’s announcements.

Initially, Gray said tickets would be issued to District residents interested in attending the event.

But on Wednesday, citing overwhelming demand, Gray said the administration decided to just open up the event to anyone who wanted to come.

According to Line, the District had no choice but to keep the event open to anyone, regardless of where they live, if they wanted to hold such an event on the Mall.

“The memorial is open to everybody, all citizens everywhere, and we made that point clear to the District and it understands that,” Line said. “The monument belongs to not only all Americans, but anybody who wants to see it.”

On Tuesday, Gray denied that the city announced “D.C. Day” without first clearing it with the Park Service. Line also sought to downplay any tension.

“They did a lot on their own, but we’ve had a meeting to inform them of the procedures,” Line said.

But since the city’s permit application is still not on file, Line said it’s not yet clear whether District taxpayers will be responsible for the costs associated with the event. Park Service officials will make that determination after they review the city’s application.

The memorial is scheduled to be open for “D.C. Day” from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday.

Update: A spokeswoman for Gray denied Wednesday night that the city doesn’t have a permit for “D.C. Day." Linda Wharton Boyd said the city is permitted to have the event through the Martin Luther King foundation. Park Service officials were not immediately available for comment.

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.

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