High on America, high on religion, high on health and some of them probably high on marijuana, throngs from all over the country are converging on Washington this weekend as the Fourth of July approaches.
Since the nation's 203rd birthday falls on Wednesday this year, the weekend won't be a long one for most area residents. Both city and federal employes are expected to work every day but the Fourth. But celebrations, demonstrations and commemorations relating in varied and sometimes arcane ways to Independence Day have already begun.
Some people may have their preliminary patriotic festivities dampened slightly this weekend according to the National Weather Service. A cold front is moving in from the west, precipitating some natural fireworks in the form of thunder and rainstorms today, tonight and possibly tomorrow.
"But the Fourth of July looks pretty good," with clear skies and slightly cooler temperatures than normal this time of year, according to one forecaster.
From 12 to 6 p.m., today through the Fourth, the Smithsonian's Museum of History and Technology is offering speeches and dramatic readings from the revolutionary rhetoric of the founding fathers. There will be, as well, roving barbershop quartets and sea chanty singers, informal concerts and crafts demonstrations, ethnic dancing (until 8:30 p.m.), and the Revolution reenacted by puppets.
Runners may be abundant over the next few days Park Police have issued permits for an early riser's 10,000-meter road race for bicycles and runners called the "Cultural Trajectory International Olympic Games" - The route is through the streets of east and west Potomac Park. It will be held from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., Sunday.
Another event called the World's Champion Marathon Footrace" is slated to begin at Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenue Tuesday evenning at 8 p.m., wind out across the Roosevelt Bridge, along the George Washington Parkway then back to the Ellipse by the same route, ending sometimes early Wednesday morning.
But members of D.C.'s active running community said yesterday they are unaware of either event, the sponsors of which could not be reached. The D.C. Road Runners, in any case, are prepping for a 15 kilometer race on the Fourth, starting at 5 p.m. atTakoma Park High School.
Some of the indefatigable runners may have to sprint through a haze of smoke, however, as the "yippies" come to town once again to protest the nation's marijuana laws. According to U.S. Park Police as many as 15,000 are scheduled to demonstrate all day Tuesday and Wednesday near the site where the Folk Festival was held on the Mall and in Lafayette and Franklin parks.
Evangelist Billy Graham will lead an Honor American Day celebration on the Capitol's steps from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., Wednesday to "honor God and country and demonstrate to the world that Americans are proud of their country and its heritage." With Graham will be several area religious leaders, the U.S. Army Band and a hoped-for crowd of as many as 50,000.
Several smaller demonstrations of various sorts are expected as well, but they are likely to get lost in the midst of hundreds of thousands of fireworks fans gathering on the Mall in the afternoon to witness the enormous annual blast-off of multicolored lights above the Washington Monument.
During the wait for sunset, the National Symphony Orchestra will be playing at the West Front of the Capitol, starting at 8 p.m. There also will be entertainment and speeches on the monument grounds beginning at 7 p.m. The fireworks begin with cannon blasts at 9:15.
As many as 300,000 people are expected to attend, according to police. And after the show, from 9 p.m. to midnight, the special Metrorail and Metrobus service scheduled for the Fourth will be free. CAPTION: Picture, The annual fireworks display is only one of many events planned for the fourth. The Washington Post