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Fourth of July fireworks (Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman)

Last night was basically a perfect night, weatherwise, to watch the July 4 fireworks over the nation’s capital.

Still, with the Air Force Memorial closed, Metro warning of delays, and the usual traffic headaches, perhaps going to watch the fireworks in person was not ideal for everyone.

This morning we’re wondering: how did you watch the fireworks (if at all).

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

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July 4 fireworks as seen from Joint Base Myer (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Arlington County is set to essentially shut down on America’s birthday.

County government offices, courts, community centers, and county libraries are all closed on Monday, July 4 in observance of the holiday. The Long Bridge Aquatics and Fitness Center will also be shuttered. Covid-19 testing sites and vaccine clinics are taking a break that day as well.

Arlington County schools are closed for employees on Independence Day, with summer school starting the next day on July 5.

America’s birthday also means free parking. Meters will not be enforced on the holiday, though permit parking is still in effect.

Trash, recycling, yard waste, and special pick-up collection, however, will be on its regular schedule.

The monthly free paper shredding, scrap metal, and inert material drop-off event at the Shirlington facility that would have been scheduled for this Saturday shifts back a week, to July 9.

For those looking to check out the fireworks, Metrorail’s holiday schedule may be the impetus to stay in Arlington this year. Earlier this week, Metro announced service will be significantly reduced this Independence Day, relative to past holidays.

“Due to the reduced number of railcars available for service, capacity on Metrorail will be less than previous Independence Days,” said Metro’s press release. “That means customers should be prepared for longer lines to enter stations near the Mall after the fireworks, up to 60 minutes, and for crowding to occur.”

Metrorail will be operating until midnight, with trains every 20 minutes on the Blue and Orange lines and every 15 minutes on the Yellow Line. Trains will arrive every 7 minutes at the downtown stations serviced by several lines. Expect lines of up to an hour to catch a train after the fireworks, Metro says.

Metrobus and Arlington Transit (ART) buses will both be operating on a Sunday schedule. For ART, that means only a few of the busiest routes will be running.

There will also be an abundance of road closures in Arlington related to the fireworks show downtown.

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A fireworks booth at the corner of Columbia Pike and Glebe Road (file photo)

The Arlington County Fire Department is sharing a few tips for those planning to using fireworks privately over the upcoming Independence Day weekend.

Only fireworks that emit flames or sparks within 12 feet and have a burning fuse of more than 1.5 inches long with a burning rate of more than four seconds are legal locally this year, according to the 2022 Consumer Fireworks Fact Sheet published by the county. The fireworks can not emit projectiles.

Fireworks that explode in any form or rise in the air, such as bottle rockets, are prohibited. Fireworks can not be used on public properties belonging to the county, state or the federal government.

Those who use, sell or distribute the illegal fireworks may receive a Class 1 misdemeanor charge, which carries a jail sentence of 12 months and $2,500 in fines, the fire department said.

A list of permissible consumer fireworks includes over 2,000 products which the public can purchase. The State Fire Marshal’s Office conducted field tests on the listed products to ensure their performance standards.

When using fireworks, the fire department cautioned folks to keep a minimum distance of 25 feet from other people and buildings, to only light one stick at a time and to move away after doing so. Fireworks users are also advised to only set them off in outdoor areas away from vehicles, according to the department.

Additionally, ACFD recommends only buying fireworks from local retail outlets that display a valid permit issued by the department’s Fire Prevention Office.

When the festivities are over, used fireworks should be submerged into a bucket of water to ensure they are extinguished before throwing them in the trash.

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Fourth of July fireworks from the Iwo Jima memorial in 2021 (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

For the first time in a couple of years, Arlington is back to fully celebrating America’s Independence Day.

In both 2020 and 2021, the pandemic led to the canceling of a number of official July 4 events as well as many of the local holiday festivities.

But, for the most part, Independence Day events, parades, and firework shows are back this year in Arlington.

The fireworks on the National Mall are set to start shooting off at 9:09 p.m. on Monday, July 4 and there are plenty of local spots to watch them without heading to the District.

  • Gateway Park and the Key Bridge in Rosslyn are both popular viewing spots for viewing and will be open to the public. There’s no seating on the bridge, however.
  • Gravelly Point, just north of National Airport on the George Washington Parkway, is a National Park Service site and will also be open to the public. No “hard perimeter” or “physical security checkpoints” will be in place, a NPS spokesperson tells ARLnow, though certain areas may be roped off to help with crowd control.
  • Long Bridge Park in Crystal City will be open to the public for firework viewing. Arlington County police will be on hand “conducting road closures and providing safety and security” on-site, a county spokesperson tells ARLnow.
  • Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima) near Rosslyn is one of the most popular spots to watch fireworks outside of the National Mall. No “hard perimeter” or security checkpoints will be in place, though it might get crowded and certain areas could be roped off.
  • Mount Vernon Trail along the Potomac River near Roosevelt Island provides “uninterrupted views” of the District’s skyline. Though, the best views are on the trial which is only accessible for bikes and pedestrians.
  • Prospect Hill Park near Pentagon City is a small county park from which one can view the fireworks, though it is only a half-acre and mostly used by nearby residents.

The Air Force Memorial, another popular viewing spot, will be closed this year due to “safety and security concerns” related to the ongoing Arlington National Cemetery expansion project.

The View of DC observation deck on top of the CEB Tower at 1201 Wilson Blvd also will not be open this year for fireworks viewing, closing at 5 p.m. on July 4, an employee confirmed to ARLnow. In years past, residents were able to enter their names into a lottery to watch the show 31 floors up, but that isn’t the case this year.

The Washington Golf and Country Club off of N. Glebe Road is again set to have its own fireworks show, though it’s only open to members and their guests, we’re told.

For those looking to head downtown for the fireworks, Metrorail will be operating until midnight, with trains every 20 minutes on the Blue and Orange lines and every 15 minutes on the Yellow Line. Trains will arrive every 7 minutes at the downtown stations serviced by several lines.

Several Arlington communities and neighborhoods are back to holding parades and festive events this year as well:

With all of this going on, there will also be road closures including Arlington Memorial Bridge and Arlington Memorial Circle starting at 6 a.m. on July 4.

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A BP gas station in Shirlington (file photo by Jay Westcott)

The Fourth of July is almost here and if there’s one thing on the minds of people traveling for the holiday, it’s gas prices.

The average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded in Virginia is currently $4.73, though in Arlington you’re more likely to find prices around $5. Only one Arlington station tracked by GasBuddy has a price lower than the state average.

One would think that the high price of fuel would keep more people at home for the holiday, but AAA recently predicted that 2022 will set a new record for Fourth of July car travel.

Earlier this year, an ARLnow poll found that fewer people were planning to travel for Memorial Day (25%) compared to 2013 (35%), when we posted a similar poll. Another ARLnow poll in March, when gas prices were about $4.20 per gallon, found that 25% of respondents reported driving less due to high gas prices.

So some combination of gas prices and other factors — the pandemic, perhaps, either as a result of precautions or practical things like someone testing positive for the virus — is likely to keep some people at home. But how many? Let’s try to find out.

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Fourth of July fireworks, as seen from the Air Force Memorial (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

One of the main fireworks viewing spots in Arlington will be closed on the Fourth of July this year.

The Air Force Memorial will be closed on July 4, then will reopen on July 5, due to “safety and security” concerns caused by the ongoing Arlington National Cemetery expansion project.

“While we recognize it has become an annual tradition for many visitors and local community members to view the fireworks and commemorate this patriotic day from the Air Force Memorial, this is an active construction site, which poses a significant safety and security risk,” said Karen Durham-Aguilera, Army National Military Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery Executive Director.

Construction along S. Joyce Street and Columbia Pike near the U.S. Air Force Memorial in April (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Those who usually go to the memorial may consider other Arlington fireworks viewing spots like Long Bridge Park, Rosslyn’s Gateway Park, the Marine Corps War Memorial or Gravelly Point.

The cemetery expansion project will add 38 acres of hallowed ground near the memorial, extending the life of the cemetery with 80,000 additional “burial opportunities.” The project will realign part of Columbia Pike, which is expected to be closed and rerouted early next year.

The full press release about the memorial closure is below.

Arlington National Cemetery (ANC), in collaboration with the Air Force District of Washington (AFDW), announced today they will close public access to the Southern Expansion portion of Arlington National Cemetery, which includes access to the Air Force Memorial, on July 4. The memorial will reopen to the public on July 5.

“While we recognize it has become an annual tradition for many visitors and local community members to view the fireworks and commemorate this patriotic day from the Air Force Memorial, this is an active construction site, which poses a significant safety and security risk. Our priority is to keep our visitors safe and allow them the time needed to make alternative plans this holiday,” said Karen Durham-Aguilera, Army National Military Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery Executive Director.

In past years, the grassy slopes around the land acquired by the cemetery from Arlington County and the Air Force Memorial have been a public gathering area for a few thousand people to view the 4th of July fireworks displays here in the National Capital Region.

“For years, the Air Force Memorial has offered an incredible backdrop to celebrate our Nation’s independence,” said Maj. Gen. Joel Jackson, Air Force District of Washington commander. “However, ongoing construction near the site in support of the Arlington National Cemetery’s Southern Expansion Project prevents us from safely hosting people during this year’s celebration.”

ANC and AFDW have been in close coordination with multiple agencies to include Arlington County Police, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (JBM-HH) Department of Emergency Services and the Pentagon Force Protection Agency to conduct a thorough safety and security assessment before making the decision to close this area to the public.

ANC’s Southern Expansion Project is the cemetery’s largest expansion to date and will add 38 acres and more than 80,000 burial opportunities. This project is designed to expand the life of the cemetery and allow the nation to honor our future generations for their sacrifices.

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Thought it was partially obscured by smoke near the end, Sunday’s Fourth of July fireworks on the National Mall dazzled.

In case you missed it, local photographers captured the scene from a number of angles, including from vistas in Arlington like the Iwo Jima memorial, Long Bridge Park, the Clarendon/Courthouse area, and the Crystal City/Pentagon City area.

For fireworks aficionados, the countdown to next year’s Independence Day show now begins. July 4 will fall on a Monday in 2022.

Flickr pool photos by Kevin Wolf

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Fourth of July fireworks, as seen from Long Bridge Park (photo via Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation)

Arlington County is closing some roads and services in observance of Independence Day.

Since the Fourth of July falls on a Sunday this year, county facilities and services will close or operate on holiday schedules on Monday. Libraries and indoor parks and recreation centers will be closed Sunday and Monday, and the county will not enforce parking meter limits either day.

Courts and state DMV offices will also be closed on Monday.

Arlington Transit will run buses along a few of its routes on Sunday schedules on both Sunday and Monday, but otherwise, bus service will not be available. Trash, recycling and yard waste collection, by contrast, will operate as usual on Monday.

The road closures, meanwhile, “are designed to facilitate the safe passage of large crowds for the Independence Day events and fireworks,” according to a county press release.

There will be a display at the National Mall this year, but, like last year Arlington will have no formal viewing events. Crowds will likely gather at the usual spots: the Iwo Jima memorial, the Air Force Memorial, Long Bridge Park, Rosslyn Gateway Park and Key Bridge, for example.

“Motorists should expect significant delays, particularly leading up to and after the fireworks display,” said the press release. “The Arlington County Police Department is reminding drivers that stopping or standing in a lane of traffic to observe the fireworks is illegal and violators may be issued a citation.”

Street parking near the Iwo Jima memorial, Long Bridge Park and the Air Force Memorial will be restricted, according to the release, which advises attendees to use Metro.

The following roadways will be closed to accommodate the festivities, per ACPD:

Route 50 – Near Rosslyn – 3:30 to 11:00 PM Closure

  • Exit Ramp from Westbound Route 50 to N. Lynn Street (Rosslyn exit)
  • Exit Ramp from Eastbound Route 50 to N. Meade Street (Rosslyn exit)

US Marine Corps War Memorial – 3:30 PM to 11:00 PM Closure

  • N. Meade Street at Marshall Drive
  • Exit Ramp from N. Meade Street to Route 50 Eastbound
  • Route 110 South onto Marshall Drive
  • N. Meade Street near the Route 50 Ramps

Radnor/Fort Myer Heights – Near the US Marine Corps War Memorial – 3:30 PM to 11:00 PM Closure

  • Ramp from Arlington Boulevard East to N. Rhodes/Rolfe/Queen Street (Emergency Vehicles Only)
  • N. Rhodes Street and Arlington Boulevard Access Road (Emergency Vehicles Only)
  • N. Rhodes Street and N. 14th Street (Local Traffic Only)
  • N. Nash Street and Arlington Boulevard Access Road
  • Arlington Boulevard Access and N. Meade Street
  • N. Nash Street and N. 14th Street
  • N. Meade Street and N. 14th Street

Foxcroft Heights – Near the Air Force Memorial – 4:30 PM to 11:00 PM Closure

  • Columbia Pike in both directions at S. Oak Street
  • The exit from Westbound Washington Boulevard to Eastbound Columbia Pike/S. Orme Street
  • Columbia Pike and S. Joyce Street
  • Southgate Road and S. Oak Street
  • Columbia Pike and Southgate Road
  • Columbia Pike and S. Ode Street

From 6 a.m. to midnight, Memorial Bridge and Memorial Circle to and including Lincoln Memorial Circle will be closed, according to the National Park Service.

The following roadways may be subject to closures, according to ACPD’s release:

Route 50 East – Near Courthouse

  • Route 50 East exit for 10th Street (All Eastbound traffic)
  • N. 10th Street and N. Wayne Street
  • N. Courthouse Road and the ramp for Route 50 East
  • N. Courthouse Road and N. Barton Street

Long Bridge Park

  • Long Bridge Drive at Boundary Channel Drive
  • Long Bridge and S. 12th Street
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Morning Notes

Rep. Beyer: Stay Home This Weekend — “In the nation’s capital we finally managed to slow the spread of COVID-19. The people in our region sacrificed to make these gains, and we should do all we can to hold on to this progress. Staying home on July Fourth and avoiding large gatherings is the best way to do this. Those who go out should absolutely wear a mask, and social distance without fail.” [Press Release]

Local Unemployment Rate Improves — “The local employment picture in May crawled back slightly from the abyss of April, according to new state data, with most parts of Northern Virginia seeing modest improvements in unemployment rates. In Arlington, May’s jobless rate of 6.1 percent was a comeback from 7 percent in April, although it remains far above norms of the past decade.” [InsideNova]

Wardian Running Through Delaware — “With most major races wiped off the calendar, professional ultramarathon runner Michael Wardian was asked to run 96 miles — the length of Delaware — over the course of a month as part of a virtual charity event. ‘I was like, ‘It’s 96 miles, I’ll just do it in one day,” Wardian said.” Wardian said in an Instagram post that his route will actually take him 135 miles over the course of about 24 hours. [Delaware Online, Instagram]

Ballston Company Makes Big Donation — “Today The AES Corporation (NYSE: AES) stepped up to provide immediate relief to hundreds of families who are struggling to put food on their tables as a result of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. A $25,000 contribution… will allow [Arlington nonprofits APAH and AHC] to provide $100 grocery gift cards to a combined total of 250 low-income households in their apartment buildings. This grant is the first tranche of a $75,000 total commitment from AES to the Arlington Community Foundation.” [Press Release]

Good News on ARLnow’s InstagramArlington Community Federal Credit Union is sponsoring a month-long series of “good news” stories posted to ARLnow’s Instagram account. The innovative partnership will further ARLnow’s journalistic mission and give our Instagram followers something to feel good about near the end of each day. [Twitter]

Reminder: Road Closures Tomorrow — “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.” [ARLnow]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Morning Notes

Holiday Closures Start Tomorrow — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed on Friday, July 3, 2020, for observation of Independence Day… Metered parking [will not be] enforced July 3-4.” [Arlington County]

Affordable Housing Provider Celebrates Scholarships — “Celebrating graduation may have looked a little different this year, but we could not be any prouder of the students from our College and Career Readiness (CCR) program who graduated from high school in 2020. All 31 of the amazing young people who participated in the program this year are off to college in the fall. In total, they were accepted into 135 schools and received an estimated $1.24 million in scholarships and aid.” [AHC Inc.]

Animal Welfare League Not Reopening Yet — “For the health and safety our staff, volunteers, and the public, we have decided to remain closed for the public, but we expect to introduce in-person adoption by appointment on a very limited basis in the coming days. We also hope to begin selling spay and neuter vouchers online very soon.” [Facebook]

New Pedestrian Law Now in Effect — “Drivers must now fully stop, not just yield, for pedestrians in all crosswalks in Virginia or they could be slapped with a $500 fine. The law that went into effect Wednesday, July 1 requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in any marked or unmarked crosswalk… Last year there were 166 crashes in Arlington involving pedestrians. Four people were killed.” [NBC 4]

Another I-395 Daredevil Caught on Camera — It keeps happening: this time, a commercial vehicle was caught on video backing up and crossing all lanes of northbound I-395 to reach the HOV bridge into D.C. [Twitter]

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A three-day Fourth of July weekend is fast approaching.

This would usually be one of the busiest travel times of the year. Instead, airports have barely a quarter of the travellers as last year, and traffic maps are mostly a sea of green. The pandemic has affected nearly all aspects of normal life, including the willingness of people to leave one’s house and visit other places or people.

The anemic level of air travel is expected to continue, though driving may take up some of the slack: this summer is being dubbed the summer of the road trip.

How has coronavirus affected the Independence Day travel plans of Arlingtonians? Let’s find out.

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