With Washington area residents looking for ways to save precious gasoline, Metro is bracing for record-breaking holiday crowds expected to ride trains and buses downtown for the national capital's Fourth of July celebration.

The day will be climaxed by the annular firewaorks display on the Mall, starting at 9:15 p.m.

Throughout the day, thousands also will be drawn to dozens of community events, ranging from traditional parades in suburban Takoma Park and Fairfax City to what is billed as an old-fashioned Independence Da celebration in Oxen Run Park in far Southeast Washington.

For those who want to stay close to home fireworks displays also are scheduled at several other locations around the area, including Fort Washington Wolf Trap Farm Park, Fairfax Park, Alexandria, Arlington and Reston.

The Metro subway, which will not begin regular Sunday and holiday service until September, will operate today from 8 a.m. until just after midnight.

Fares will be charged for both subway and bus rides until 9 p.m. The subway fare is 50 cents. the bus fare ranges from 40 to 80 cents. After 9 p.m., fare collection will stop, and everyone can ride free on the way home until midnight.

Metro officials have three tips for people who ride the trains downtown:

Every fider must have his own Farecard. One card worth $1.50 will not admit three people through the gate.

Riders going downtown on the Red Line from Silver Spring should not try to transfer to the Blue Line to get from G Street to the Mall. That would overcrowd the congested Metro Center station.

Riderd going home should not all try to board trains at the Smithsonian station, the only one located directly on the Mall [at 12th Street]. Several other minutes' walk away, and should be less crowded.

Metro also announced that it will open the Fourth and D streets entrance to its Judiciary Square station today, reversing an earlier decision is two blocks from the Mall.

A total of 236 cars are scheduled to be in service on both subway lines with a capacity of about 50,000 seated and standing riders at one time. They will continue running every five minutes until 11 p.m., and every 10 minutes after that.

In addition, 411 buses -- about one-quarter of the number ordinarily dispatched in weekday rush hours -- will provide service in the city and suburbs. Parking at all Metro-operated lots and at the Pentagon north lot will be free. Paid parking will be available at the Stadium-Armory and Pentagon City subway stations.

The extra bus service to carry riders downtown or to outlying subway stations will begin between 3 and 4 p.m.

A seemingly limitless number of events are scheduled throughout the area.

On the west side of the Capitol starting at 11 a.m., evangelistic Billy Graham and others, including the U.S. Army Band and Chorus, will participate in an Honor America celebration.

At 8 p.m., in the same area, the National Symphony Orchestra will perform a program featering patriotic and marital music.

The Marie Brooks Dance Research Theatre of New York, composed of 28 children aged 5 to 15, will perform at 4:40 p.m. at the Jefferson Memorial.

The location has been shifted from the Washington Monument grounds.

At the National Archives, a Revolutionary War campsite will be recreated by musket and rifle companies in period costumes. They will give a musket and cannon fire demonstration at noon, followed by music and a reading of the Declaration of Independence by Actor Glen Taylor at 12:30 p.m.

The Smithsonian Institution will present music, craft demonstrations and performances throughout the day, chiefly in and around its Museum or History and Technology.

In the evening, those watching the National Park Service's fireworks display over the Mall from a distance can listen to accompanying band music on radio station WWDC [1260 on the AM dial].

Among the dozens of community events around the region are two neighborhood celebrations in the District of Columbia, sponsored by the city Recreation Department.

One is described as "an old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration from noon to 4 p.m. in Oxon Run Park, Fourth Street and Missippi Avenue SE, featering games and a cookout. The other is a Palisades community parade along MacArthur Boulevard NY from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by a picnic and outing in Palisades Playground.

Government offices throughout the region are closed for the holiday, except for agencies providing emergency services. Northern Virginia communities except for Falls Church. There is no trash collection today in the District or the Maryland suburbs.

Major shopping centers will be open today, but some stores within them will be closed. Major supermarket and drug chain stores will be open. Government-operated liquor stores in Montgomery County and Virginia owned stores elsewhere will be open. CAPTION: Map, shows distances beween the Mall and subway stations. Closer stations are likely to be crowded. By Dave Cook -- The Washington Post