Government officials and fireworks experts have been trying to arrange for an additional Fourth of July fireworks display on the Mall to go with the original, relocated display and the planned speech by President Trump at the Lincoln Memorial.
The extra display would be put on by the Long Island firm Fireworks by Grucci, which provided fireworks from behind the Lincoln Memorial the night before Trump was inaugurated in 2017.
The company has put on shows for eight inaugurations, including Trump’s, and the Y2K display on the Washington Monument in 2000.
It was not immediately clear if the second display would also be launched from behind the Lincoln Memorial, which could provide Trump a dramatic backdrop for any speech there, or exactly when it would occur.
“We are looking forward to an announcement from the White House that has all the details of the events, including any information on, perhaps, more fireworks,” National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst said Tuesday.
The White House declined to comment Wednesday.
Details of a second show were still being addressed, but “that is what we’re working on, yes,” an assistant to Felix “Phil” Grucci, the company’s president, said Tuesday.
The first display is being put on by Garden State Fireworks Inc., of Millington, N.J., which did the Mall’s Fourth of July show from 2013 to 2017, according to its website.
The president’s revamped July 4 celebration has drawn critics who have complained that it will politicize the traditionally nonpartisan event and turn its focus to him.
“It’s about the worst holiday he could have chosen,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) has said. “You never want to make events like this around a single person . . . Cults of personality are not how we operate in this country.”
Protests are expected, and one group is seeking permission to float a big “Baby Trump” blimp, which depicts him in a diaper fastened with a safety pin as he holds a cellphone.
At the behest of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, the traditional site for the holiday’s fireworks along the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool has been moved about 1,500 feet south to West Potomac Park to make more room for spectators.
“As long as anyone’s recent memory, we’ve shot them off from the side of the reflecting pool,” Litterst said Tuesday. “The racks with the shells were on both sides of the reflecting pool.”
And a large area around the reflecting pool from Constitution Avenue on the north to Independence Avenue on the south has previously been blocked off for the fireworks there.
Opening up the area would allow about 50,000 more people to view the fireworks and the president, officials said.
“West Potomac Park was not an area where people would gather to watch the fireworks,” Litterst said. “In moving the fireworks down there, we’re not really taking anything away, but it does open up some pretty prime real estate . . . that was not accessible before.”
The move should not affect the viewing experience and has caused only minor logistical problems, he said. A new “fallout zone,” had to be measured: “We don’t want stuff falling on people. We don’t want stuff falling in the river.”
Judging from a map of the Mall, the new location could reduce views of the fireworks from the northeast but enhance views from the southwest, across the Potomac River in Virginia.
But “if you go out on the Mall or the Washington Monument grounds in years past, and you go back out this year, you’re not going to notice any difference,” Litterst said.
At Bernhardt’s urging, the first show has also been lengthened from 17½ minutes to 20 minutes, Litterst said.
As for Trump’s planned speech, “making the reflecting pool area available for crowds for the fireworks, or for anything else that may be happening at the Lincoln Memorial, obviously there’s a double benefit,” he said.
The new arrangement was a top priority for Bernhardt, to whom Trump gave the job months ago.
“He [Bernhardt] is very interested in increasing access to public lands,” Litterst said, “whether that’s . . . thousands of acres out west or a relatively small area around the reflecting pool.”
Trump had promoted the idea of holding a military parade in Washington last year, but the event was canceled amid questions about the cost.
In February, Trump tweeted about his plans to speak to Americans on the Fourth: “HOLD THE DATE! . . . Major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!”
Bernhardt in an interview about the new fireworks location last month hinted that there could be more “surprises in store for the public, very very soon.”
Julie L. Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association, which represents the industry, said the association usually hosts a briefing for federal and local regulators before the show.
“We’re thrilled that the president wants fireworks, and that he wants bigger and maybe more than one location,” she said Tuesday. “That’s a good thing for us.”
Meanwhile, PBS’s 39th annual “A Capitol Fourth,” featuring songwriting legend Carole King, singer Vanessa Williams and the National Symphony Orchestra, will kick off at 8 p.m. on the west lawn of the Capitol.
That show is unaffiliated with any other July 4 event.