Maybe it was a reaction to the hectic Bicentennial extravaganza last year, but people in the Washington suburbs seemed to be enjoying a more lazy Fourth of Joly this year.

In most communities outside the District of Columbia, families settled down for the traditional picnic, parades, concerts and fireworks.

In Arlington, people lined the streets for a two-hour parade featuring police and firemen, political candidates, marching bands, dancers and clowns.

Grandparents and pulled up lawn chairs and youngsters crowded the curbs. The oldsters held fans in anticipation of beat; the children held drippy popsickles and clutched colorful balloons.

Two ingenious boys towed a wagon and offered cold drinks for 10 cents. Business, they said, was "just O.K."

After the parade, many families attended picnics or parties, "until the fireworks begin. Then we'll go over to the park and have some more fun," one child said, giggling.

Business was slow at the Colvin Run Mill celebration in Fairfax County. Events included arts and crafts demonstrations, music, refreshments and games, but by 12:30 p.m. only a few dozen people were on hand.

"It's very slow," admitted volunteer Sandy Blacklock, trying to set up a potato race with three children. "I gurss everybody sleeps late and then will get up and come out.We've had to switch a few games around and wait for some more people to come in."

A sack race, three-legged race, greased pole race and some team games were scheduled for later in the afternoon, provided more children arrived.

But in Takoma Park, plenty of children and adults were present at Takoma Park Junior High School. About 200 persons were sitting in the shade on a hill overlooking the Takoma Park League Championship soccer game.

After the game, there were marathon races, followed by an evening program and fireworks.

Many spent the day at home. Perhaps it was because many communities did not schedule events during the day, concentrating on the evening fireworks.

A drive through Bethesda. Chevy Chase and Silver Spring found tennis courts and playgrounds full. The aroma of hot dogs on grills was evident.

Picknickers were scattered through Rock Creek Park, and a host of soft-ball games and sunbathers surrounded them.

Suburbanites enjoyed a leisurely Fourth this year, from the first flag in the paradeto the last fading fireworks. And after last year, they probably deserved the rest.