It's family entertainment all over town this year for the annual Fourth of July celebration, as military bands replace the Beach Boys on the Mall and the Mamas and the Papas sing at Washington's first Cityfest at RFK Stadium.
This year's low key celebration follows years of controversy over who should entertain at the national celebration on the Mall.
"We are looking for a more traditional Fourth of July this year," said Sandra Alley, spokeswoman for the National Park Service. "We want something more manageable and more pleasurable for everybody."
Last year, more than 650,000 people descended on Washington's national parks on the Fourth, creating problems for police, public transportation and cleanup crews.
This year, Alley said, officials expect about half that many celebrators.
"We are geared for families this year," she said. "We have gotten a lot of complaints over the past few years from people saying they didn't feel they could bring their children to the Mall because of the entertainment and the crowds."
Alley said that a combination of Army and Air Force bands will play at the Sylvan Theatre and on the steps of the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum. The National Symphony Orchestra will play at the Capitol, as it has done for the past eight years.
The Armory Board is staging its first Independence Day celebration, called Cityfest, according to business manager Bob Downey. The show, with a $6 admission charge for adults, will include the Mamas and the Papas as well as the Turtles, he said.
"We are expecting adults in the 35- to 45-age group and their children," he said. "We will have activities for the kids and a fireworks show at the end."
In the past, the Park Service has depended on the well-known groups that play on the Mall to pay the production costs of the show. Last year they asked the Beach Boys to pay cleanup and security costs as well.
"They still owe us $120,000 from last year," Alley said. "But we are confident that they will eventually pay us."
The Beach Boys could not be reached for comment.
Alley said this year's program ended up featuring military bands when a Radio City Music Hall program, which had been scheduled for the Mall, fell through because of a lack of financing. "We wouldn't have a show without the military," Alley said, adding that the show will cost at most $75,000 to stage.