Planning to light off a few fireworks at home this Fourth of July weekend?
You’re not alone. Fireworks sales have skyrocketed this year as the usual public displays are cancelled or scaled back, and as people opt to stay away from the usual crowds.
While a deadly global pandemic is obviously cause for concern, socially distanced at-home fireworks can be dangerous too. Thousands of people report fireworks-related injuries each year and Arlington is no exception, although the types of fireworks allowed in Virginia are more tame than those permitted by some other states.
To help spread the word about fireworks safety, the Arlington County Fire Department held a demonstration at its training center near Shirlington yesterday. A video from the event, produced by ARLnow staff photographer Jay Westcott, is above.
More fireworks safety tips from the fire department’s website are below.
If you plan to use fireworks outside your home, follow these legal and safety tips:
Limitations & Prohibitions
- Illegal Fireworks include: Fireworks that explode, emit flames or sparks to a distance greater than 12 feet, have a burning fuse less than one and one half (1.5) inches long with a burning rate of less than 4 seconds which emit projectiles; Fireworks that explode in any form, such as firecrackers, mortars and cherry bombs; Fireworks that leave the ground or rise in the air (other than a fountain), such as bottle rockets, mortars or roman candles.
- The sale of fireworks to minors (less than 18 years of age) is prohibited, unless a parent or legal guardian accompanies the minor.
- Usage of permissible fireworks by minors (less than 18 years of age) must be under adult supervision.
- Permissible fireworks shall be used on private property with the permission of the property owner. Use of any fireworks on County, State of Federal property, such as streets, schools and parks, or any public right of way, is prohibited.
- The penalty for possession, distribution, use or sale of illegal fireworks is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 or 12 months in jail, or both, and confiscation of the fireworks. Parties are subject to additional charges for use of illegal fireworks, such as failure to obtain a Fireworks Permit
- Application and not being a Virginia State licensed Pyro technician.
Fireworks Safety Tips
- Keep a minimum clearance of 25 feet from people and buildings.
- Wet down the area before shooting fireworks.
- Follow the label directions carefully and use good sense.
- Buy fireworks only from established retail outlets displaying a valid permit issued by the Arlington County Fire Department Fire Prevention Office.
- A responsible adult, whom is not under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, must supervise fireworks activities at all times.
- Never allow young children to handle fireworks.
- Use fireworks outdoors only, in a clear area, away from buildings and vehicles.
- Light only one a time and then move away.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Keep a garden hose nearby or a bucket of water to place used fireworks in. Let them soak to ensure extinguishment before placing in regular trash for pickup.
(Updated at 12:20 p.m.) The pandemic is putting a damper on Fourth of July festivities, but Arlington County is still preparing for potential crowds at popular fireworks viewing spots.
Road closures are planned from 4-11 p.m. Saturday around the Air Force Memorial, Iwo Jima Memorial and Long Bridge Park. Street parking will also be restricted in the area.
Other viewing spots that may draw fireworks crowds in Arlington include Key Bridge, Gravelly Point and Rosslyn’s Gateway Park. None of the above will be hosting formal events this year, the county says, and residents are encouraged to stay home instead.
“Considering the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, no formal events or programming are planned in Arlington County,” said a press release Monday afternoon. “Those wishing to view fireworks or flyovers are encouraged to do so at home on TV, or in adherence to current recommended social distancing protocols. Large, outdoor gatherings are still a high risk, especially when people are close together, without any guarantees of physical distancing.”
At Long Bridge Park, near Crystal City, the crowd will be capped and no on-site parking will be available.
“The park will be open for viewing, but we aren’t encouraging people to come. It’s Safer at Home!” Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish tells ARLnow. “We will be capping park attendance to 1,000 based on the Governor’s Guidelines. We will closed entrance when we hit 1,000 or by 7:30 p.m., whichever comes first.
“Social distancing is required; face coverings recommended,” Kalish added. “No fireworks or alcohol allowed in the park. No food or spiked objects (like chairs or umbrellas) allowed on the fields. And only water is allowed on the field as well.”
The pandemic has also cancelled one of Arlington’s most popular private fireworks displays.
“Due to the recent events with COVID-19, unfortunately we will not be hosting fireworks this year for the 4th of July,” Washington Golf and Country Club said on its website. “We wish everyone a happy and safe holiday!”
There is at least one community event happening on Independence Day, however: the Lyon Village Fourth of July parade will go on, starting promptly at 11 a.m. at the corner of Key Blvd and N. Jackson Street. Parade watchers are encouraged to social distance from one another.
“The Lyon Village 4th of July Parade will again take place this year,” the neighborhood’s civic association said. “It will feature a longer parade route with Arlington police and fire vehicles and a special group of antique cars.”
“The parade is honoring long time Lyon Village resident, Col. Ed Brant,” the press release notes. “For many years Col. Brant and his family drove his Model T and Model A fords in the parade. Col. Brant is now 99 years old and he will turn 100 in October.”
The full county press release about Fourth of July road closures and restrictions is below.
Arlington Gets Best View of Fireworks — On a hazy night, Arlington — particularly Rosslyn — had the best view of the expanded D.C. fireworks. Smoke obscured the viewing for many parts of the District. [Twitter, Twitter, Raw Story]
JBG Trying to Lure Big Tech to Arlington — “JBG Smith Properties CEO Matt Kelly recently met with “a handful” of big West Coast tech firms in a bid to entice them to come to National Landing now that Amazon.com Inc. has chosen the area for its second headquarters.” [Washington Business Journal]
Police Chase Ends in Arlington — A high-speed police chase along I-66 ended in Arlington, near the N. Glebe Road exit. Virginia State Police say a woman fled from police at speeds of up to 120 mph while her three children were in the car. [WJLA, Twitter]
A Modest Proposal for Arlington — In a letter to the editor published by the Arlington Sun Gazette, a man apparently upset by the renaming of Washington-Lee High School to Washington-Liberty suggests also renaming Arlington “Amazon’s bitch.” [InsideNova]
Ebbin Cast as NRA’s ‘Boogeyman’ — “[State Sen. Adam] Ebbin, when told of [state Sen. Bryce] Reeves’s remarks at the town hall, said he never made any of the comments attributed to him. ‘Apparently I’m a radical homosexual who’s misquoted,’ Ebbin said sarcastically.” [Washington Post]
Checking Car Seats in Arlington — Writing about the new Virginia law requiring rear-facing car seats for children under two and below a certain weight, the Arlington County Fire Department noted on social media: “ACFD no longer does child seat safety inspections. Arlington County Police Department offers regular inspections to ensure the child seat is safely installed and secured in your vehicle.” [Twitter]
Warner Highlights Sept. 11th Memorial Trail — “U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) are working together to further honor the heroes of September 11th, 2001. In a bipartisan resolution, Senators Toomey and Warner highlight the significance of the September 11th National Memorial Trail,” which runs through Arlington. [Press Release]
Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick/Twitter
Those flying in and out of Reagan National Airport on Thursday may have their travel disrupted by the July 4 festivities in D.C.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced this morning that non-emergency flight operations at DCA will be suspended from 6:15-7:45 p.m. due to military flyovers and from 9-9:45 p.m. due to fireworks.
President Trump has pushed for an Independence Day celebration “like no other” this year, and his “Salute to America” will feature demonstrations of American military might, an extended fireworks display and a presidential address.
The fireworks and flyovers — of the Navy’s Blue Angels, Air Force One and other military aircraft — will necessitate keeping commercial airliners out of the National Airport flight path for more than two hours over two no-fly periods Thursday night.
“Please check with your airline for flight information,” the FAA said.
FAA Statement: On July 4, the #FAA will suspend operations at @Reagan_Airport from 6:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET. Operations will also be impacted from 9:00 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. Please check with your airline for flight information. pic.twitter.com/HbLumFNuZJ
— The FAA (@FAANews) July 2, 2019
That’s not the only disruption at the airport for the Fourth. Due to construction at DCA, those hoping to watch the fireworks from nearby Gravelly Point will not be able to get there from the airport this year.
— Reagan Airport (@Reagan_Airport) July 1, 2019
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Law enforcement agencies are planning several road closures for Fourth of July.
Several main roads will be closed on July 4, including Memorial Bridge and Memorial Circle, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. The Arlington County Police Department is encouraging people to use to use public transit as large crowds are expected during the celebrations.
ACPD announced it will be working with the Virginia State Police, U.S. Park Police, and the Virginia Dept. of Transportation to close several roads, including:
1:00 PM to 11:00 PM
- Marshall Drive from Route 110 to N. Meade Street
- N. Meade St. from N. 14th St. to Marshall Dr.
2:00 PM to 11:00 PM
- Meade Street from Marshall Drive to Route 50 (access to the Ft. Myer Heights neighborhood will be from the Rhodes Street bridge)
- Exit ramp from westbound Route 50 to N. Lynn Street (Rosslyn exit)
- Exit ramp from eastbound Route 50 to N. Meade Street (Rosslyn exit)
- Long Bridge Dr. from Boundary Channel Dr. to S. 10th
8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
- Eastbound Route 50 at Washington Blvd. All traffic diverted from Rt. 50 on ramps to East and West Washington Blvd.
- Eastbound N. 10th ramp to eastbound Rt. 50 will be closed, all traffic diverted to westbound Rt. 50
- Courthouse Rd. ramp to eastbound Rt. 50 will be closed, all traffic diverted to westbound Rt. 50 or N. 10th St.
- Pershing Dr. at Rt. 50 will only be allowed westbound
- Eastbound N. Fairfax Drive from N. Pierce Street to N. Fort Myer Drive
- Columbia Pike between S. Orme Street and S. Joyce St.
- Joyce Street between Army Navy Drive and Columbia Pike
- The exit from westbound Washington Blvd. to eastbound Columbia Pike/S. Orme St.
“These closures are designed to facilitate the safe passage of large crowds for the Independence Day events and fireworks,” Arlington police wrote in the press release.
ACPD is encouraging people to use public transportation or ride hailing services due to the large crowds, and noted that the Rosslyn and Pentagon City Metro stations are close to most of the prime firework viewing spots.
The department noted that police will cite drivers who stop or stand in traffic to view fireworks, and that those who park on Route 110 will be towed.
Additionally, ACPD is reminding people that county and federally-owned parks ban people from bringing their own alcohol, grills, and fireworks to the party, and that drones are banned by the Federal Aviation Administration in Arlington and other areas around D.C.
If the road closures, crowds and traffic were not enough, police are also warning people to prepare for the heat and humidity forecasted for the holiday.
Image 1 via Arlington County Dept. of Parks and Recreation, image 2 via ACPD
(Updated at 1 p.m.) There are a number of ways to celebrate America’s independence in Arlington this year.
This year’s federal firework show on the National Mall was moved because of President Trump’s “Salute to America” rally at the Lincoln Memorial from 6:30-7:30 p.m., which will likely include a speech, military flyovers, and protestors.
The national fireworks display will blast off from West Potomac Park instead. It is scheduled to run from 9:07-9:27 p.m. and will be visible from most places across the Potomac that Arlington residents are used to.
If the president’s planned Fourth of July rally in the District isn’t for you, here are some places in Arlington to watch the show:
- Long Bridge Park, which is open for viewers but no longer hosting a large, county-sponsored extravaganza due to cost-cutting measures. The county is cautioning people to make time to go through security checkpoints on Thursday, July 4, and to be prepared for crowding due to ongoing construction closing the north end of the park’s esplanade. Attendees to the Long Bridge Park festivities are not allowed to bring food, spiked chairs, or fireworks of their own on the field, per the county’s website.
- The View of DC observation deck at CEB Tower (1201 Wilson Blvd) in Rosslyn is hosting a fireworks viewing event 31 floors up. Those who want to attend can enter their name in a lottery for tickets.
- Gateway Park in Rosslyn is hosting its usual, popular viewing.
- Gravelly Point is another popular viewing spot, though parking may be limited.
- U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial near Rosslyn has a sweeping vantage of the monuments, the river and the fireworks..
- Key Bridge also offers picturesque views for those who don’t mind standing during the show.
- The Air Force Memorial which will host a free concert by the The United States Air Force Concert Band and Singing Sergeants at 8 p.m. before the fireworks.
- The Washington Golf & Country Club also confirmed to ARLnow that it is again hosting its own fireworks this year, but won’t have any seating on the golf course due to the ongoing renovations.
Several neighborhoods are also hosting parades for those who prefer to eschew the crowds at fireworks, including:
- Douglas Park
- Lyon Village
- Lee Heights
The Arlington County Fire Department is asking residents who plan to light their own fireworks or have their cookouts to follow these safety tips for fire and injury prevention.
On average, 280 people go to U.S. emergency rooms every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday. The Arlington County Fire Prevention Office wants everyone to enjoy the 4th of July this year by keeping it safe. https://t.co/Iw5bJFU0o7 pic.twitter.com/qiMRt2CZZZ
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) June 20, 2019
SoberRide will continue its holiday tradition of offering free Lyft rides to prevent drunk driving. The organization said 746 people in the Greater Washington area used the service during Fourth of July last year.
Users can check the SoberRide website on Thursday, July 4 at 6 p.m. for the promotion code that will give free rides between 7 p.m Thursday and 2 a.m. Friday.
Photo via John Sonderman/Flickr pool
Updated 11:15 a.m. — Last year’s construction at Washington Golf & Country Club meant viewers of the 4th of July fireworks — traditionally seated on the course — had to find new accommodations.
This year, Arlington’s other tradition of eternal construction work means viewers will still need to find another place to watch the fireworks.
Member Services Coordinator Jordan Marks said in an email that the club will still hold its fireworks celebration, but can’t promise seating:
The golf course at Washington Golf & Country Club is currently undergoing a renovation. During the renovation there is no access to the golf course because it is an active work area. As a result of this ongoing work, there will unfortunately be no seating available on the course to view the fireworks display. We apologize for any inconvenience and hope you have a wonderful 4th of July
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Arlington won’t be hosting its official Fourth of July celebration at Long Bridge Park this year, but there are still plenty of places around the county to watch the fireworks.
The County Board decided to end the event at Long Bridge, which Arlington had put on since 2012, in order to save about $50,000 amid a budget squeeze. However, the park will remain open for anyone looking to view the fireworks on the National Mall.
Those are set to start at 9:09 p.m. and last for 18 minutes.
The county recommends several other locations around Arlington to catch the D.C. fireworks:
- Air Force Memorial (The Air Force’s Honor Guard Drill team will also hold a performance at 7:30 p.m., followed by an 8 p.m. show by the Concert Band and Singing Sergeants.)
- Gateway Park in Rosslyn
- Gravelly Point
- Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (Whipple Field will open at 5:05 p.m. to Department of Defense ID card holders, their families and guests.)
- Key Bridge sidewalks
- U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial
The Washington Golf and Country Club recently announced that it will still be open for anyone looking to watch the club’s fireworks, but renovation work means seating will not be available for members of the public
Flickr photo via Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation
Members of the public who want to watch the Washington Golf and Country Club fireworks display will have to stand this year.
Due to renovations, the golf course is an “active work area” and seating is not available, as it has been in previous years.
“The fireworks are still happening but unfortunately the general public will need to stand outside the clubhouse to view the fireworks,” said Member Services Coordinator Jordan Marks.
Marks said the club is trying to make sure residents are notified in advance of the change. The club also issued a statement about the situation.
The golf course at Washington Golf & Country Club is currently undergoing a renovation. During the renovation there is no access to the golf course because it is an active work area.
As a result of this ongoing work, there will unfortunately be no seating available on the course to view the fireworks display. We apologize for any inconvenience and hope you have a wonderful 4th of July.
Washington Golf and Country Club, along with Army Navy Country Club, recently settled a tax dispute with Arlington County.
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Fireworks Law in Arlington — “In Arlington County, fireworks that are projectiles, explode, emit flames or sparks to a distance greater than twelve (12) feet are prohibited.” [NBC Washington]
Three Elected Dems Back De Ferranti — County Board Chair Katie Cristol, Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy and Sheriff Beth Arthur have endorsed fellow Democrat Matt de Ferrani in his challenge of incumbent County Board member John Vihstadt. Vihstadt, who is again running as an independent, has the endorsement of a trio of Democratic elected officials: County Board member Libby Garvey, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos and Treasurer Carla de la Pava. [InsideNova]
AWLA Saves Fawn — An Animal Welfare League of Arlington animal control officer rescued a young deer from a roadway over the weekend, sending the fawn to a wildlife rehabber to recover. [Twitter]
Photo courtesy Craig Fingar
July 4 is just around the corner, and PETA is urging people looking to celebrate Independence Day in Arlington to abandon any plans to set off fireworks and avoid frightening local pets.
The animals rights group announced in a news release Monday (June 11) that its workers will start handing out leaflets across the D.C. area to spread the word about the lesser-known impact of fireworks on our four-legged friends. PETA notes in the release that animal shelters often become flooded with lost pets in the immediate aftermath of the holiday, after being startled by the sudden explosion of fireworks.
“Fireworks sound exactly like ‘bombs bursting in air’ to animals who end up fleeing in terror — some never to be found again,” PETA Vice President Colleen O’Brien wrote in a statement. “PETA is urging everyone to protect animals and other vulnerable members of the community by never setting off fireworks, which can carry a penalty of fines or even jail time.”
PETA is also recommending that pet owners keep their animals inside on July 4, and even close the blinds or turn on the TV or a fan to drown out the noise of fireworks.
The group also points out that local laws prohibit people from setting off many types of fireworks across the region. In Arlington, the county has a ban on projectile fireworks, as well as ones with sparks that reach higher than 12 feet in the air.
A full list of approved fireworks is available on the county’s website. The full press release from PETA, after the jump.