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National Park Service gears up for Independence Day
Thursday - 7/1/2010, 3:48pm EDT
For most Americans, Independence Day means fireworks and BBQ, but for the National Park Service, July 4 is work day -- and a busy one at that.
This Sunday will mark the 30th National Mall Independence Day Celebration, and the NPS is doing its part to ensure that the hundreds of thousands of people who make their way into the city are safe.
Bill Line is the spokesperson for the Park Service and says they'll be out in full force.
"We're expecting very large crowds for the events on the National Mall. . . . We welcome everybody here, but, having said that we want everybody to be as safe as possible and to be prepared for very warm weather."
Sister station WTOP predicts that weather on Sunday will reach into the 90s, which could affect older people and young children.
Line says, despite your inclinations, if you are headed to the Mall, less is more.
"Don't bring Davenports and couches and that sort of thing. What you can bring, certainly, are folding lawn chairs. We certainly also suggest people bring blankets . . . and stake out your territory. Bring plenty of sunscreen with you. . . . We also highly recommend that people bring enough water or soft drinks to drink to keep themselves hydrated."
That's water, not alcohol. No booze is allowed, and every visitor will have to go through a security checkpoint, so don't think you can sneak it in.
"Park police and other officers will have the full right to look through your bags, your backpacks, your picnic baskets to determine if there are some nefarious items in there. . . . One of the other things we don't want are glass bottles or containers because people often go barefoot and we certainly don't want glass broken and people cutting their feet."
There will also be health care tents set up, just in case.
"What we certainly have done in the past and will do again this year is have over 100 medical professionals -- mainly doctors and nurses -- on hand in case the weather turns very hot and humid . . . [and] anyone experiences either heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
NPS, along with the Park Police and other organizations, plans year-round for the Independence Day celebrations, and Line says they always try to make entering and exiting go as smoothly as possible.
"Not to reveal trade secrets, so to speak, but the U.S. Park Police, since we've been doing this since 9/11, have learned ways in which they can move the crowds along through the security checkpoints or entrance points much more quickly, but still be effective and thorough in the searches that they do. . . . One of the things that we, the Park Service, directly are working on is trying to increase the ways in which the people can access the National Mall."
Above all, he emphatically states, do not drive. There is no place to put your car, so take Metro instead!
Check out WTOP's 4th of July page for more info.
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