There were, of course, the traditional things - bands, singers, cyclists, watermelon and franks.
In addition, there were protest marches, a marijuana smokefest, and 30,000 music lovers basking under the sun.
There was also a traffic snarl that tied up hundreds of motorists for five hours along a 45-mile stretch of Rte. 95.
It was Saturday, the start of Independence Day weekend, in the Washington area.
Picnics blossomed in backyards, and there were four-day holiday trips out of town.
But at RFK Stadium more than 30,000 people celebrated the start of the vacation in a different way. They showed up on the artificial turf to take part in The Chocolate Jam, a seven-hour soul music concert featuring such groups as Boostsy's Rubber Band, the Parliament Funkadelic, and the Brides of Dr. Funkenstein.
Thousands more enjoyed the holiday by visiting the Smithsonian's Museum of History and Technology. Outside, on the Mall, and inside, there were games, oratory, music and roving performers.
"You know, this isn't as easy as it looks," said 13-year-old Becky Tallant, as she wheeled her unicycle away after performing for crowd of 50 people in front of the musemum, Tallant belongs to an Arlington unicycle team, the Supercycles.
"It takes a whole lot of practice," she said. I've been doing for about two years now, so I don't get nervous or anything."
Inside the museum, in front of a large reproduction of the Bill of Rights nearly 100 enthralled visitors watched as 21-year-old Catrina Gainey, a Washington actress recite an old political speech by Sojourner Truth. Truth was 19th century black religious and political activist.
She's absolutely astonishing," said one woman, standing on her tiptoes to look over the heads of the crowd.
"I studied Truth's speeches and character for several weeks," Gainey said after the speech as she wiped away the tears that had welled up during her emotional oration. "The fact is, I didn't know a thing about her. I never studied black history in school, so I was surprised to found out about her."
Gainey, who wore a long green dress and white shawl to give a 19th century "mood" to her recital, belongs to a group of eight performers who will portray various historical figures through the holiday weekend.
For other holiday participants, from Rte. 95 the capital to Fredericksburg turned into a 45-mile parking lot yesterday after a tractor-trailer filled with 6,000 gallons of oil overturned at 7 a.m. The accident occurred in the southbound lane of the highway three miles outside of Fredericksburg.
"This is the worst traffic jam I've ever seen," said Sgt. William Terry of the Virginia State Police in Fredericksburg.
"It's been bumper to bumper all day," said Martha Carter, a desk clerk at the Howard Johnson Motor Inn on Rte. 95 near Rte. 1, at about noon. "I've been watching it from my window. People are stopping here and canceling reservations further down the road."
While CBs crackled and radiators boiled over on 1.95, nearly 500 marijuana smokers gathered together at a smoke-in on the lawn between the Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool. The smoke-in was sponsored by the Youth International Party (Yippie) in an effort to repeal marijuana prohibition laws.
"We like to party and have political protests at the same time," said Ben Masel, an organizer of the smoke-in as he looked at a nearby crowd of 50 not smokers. The smokers shared a dozen joints beneath a giant oak and clapped their hands in beat with the bluegrass music of two guitarists.
"This our 11th District smoke-in" said Masel, whose long black hair was tied behind his back, "and we seem to have different issues to consider every year. This year we want to abolish the Drug Enforcement Administration.
"The political issues aren't as clear as before."
Meanwhile, in Harvard Square on the corner of 16th Street and Columbia Road NW, Kojo Darley placed a picket sign in the grass that said, "Release All Political Prisoners in Ghana." Darley belongs to the Washington-based group of 35 native Ghanians who were protesting Ghana's military government yesterday.
"Our economy has been deteriorating ever since the military rulers came to power in 1972, and we want to make Americans aware of our problems," said Darley, as other protesters - in dashikis and red headbands - marched around the square singing war songs in Akan, the Ghanian language.
There was, in short, a bit of everything for everybody yesterday as residents in the metropolitan area set off to enjoy the holiday. For Carl Masters, it was a time to relax in the shade.
"I worked for about 38 straight hours," said Masters, a truck driver who lives in Northeast Washington. He sat with his 2-year-old son in the shade of the Washington Monument yesterday afternoon sipping slowly from a can of soda.
"Now I just want to cool off," he said.