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Despite Covid, Trump Is Planning Another July 4 “Salute to America” Spectacle

But he says the crowd on the Mall will obey social distancing

Happy almost Fourth of July! Photograph courtesy of iStockphoto.
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President Trump wants to have another “Salute to America” event this Fourth of July, according to the New York Times. Though details are still being worked out, a spokesperson for the National Park Service said the Department of the Interior and NPS are continuing to plan for a Fourth of July celebration on the National Mall.

Last year’s “Salute to America” drew thousands to the area around the Lincoln Memorial and cost roughly $2.5 million. Trump has promised this year’s event would have attendees six feet apart. “We’ll have to do that in a very interesting way. Maybe we’ll even do it greater. Leave a little extra distance,” Trump told reporters in a White House briefing.

Currently, it’s unlikely DC’s stay-at-home order will be lifted before early June; some speculate widespread closures could extend into early July. It’s unclear how DC officials will address Trump’s event if it’s in violation of the city’s ordinances. Multiple individuals at the mayor’s office did not respond for comment.

There’s not much DC’s government can do, though. Since the National Mall is part of the National Park Service, that land is owned and run by the federal government. Trump recently invoked his executive privilege to use the Mall by holding a town hall Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial. Anyone can use the steps of the Memorial by obtaining a permit, but NPS isn’t accepting any permit applications for the Mall through May 15. For Trump to use the Memorial, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt had to issue a special order to close the area, a move that reportedly surprised NPS officials.

Trump admitted the attendance of this year’s event would likely be smaller than in 2019. But even a reduced crowd means a slew of mostly out-of-towners will have to find transportation to the Mall, which could prove tricky. Some parking around the Mall has been closed, there are only roughly 1200 metered parking spots around the Mall, the Metro is on reduced service, and the Smithsonian stop — the closest one to the Mall —  is one of 17 stations currently closed.

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Jane Recker
Assistant Editor

Jane is a Chicago transplant who now calls Cleveland Park her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and opera.