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Fourth of July! America’s Birthday! Independence Day! Whatever you want to call it, it’s almost here and that means lots of red, white and blue themed parties, lots of drinking and lots of fireworks. Whether you’re hosting you’re own party or hitting up some places around the city, check out these places to go, things to do (or not do) and figure out how to have a kickass time while America turns 238-years-old.

Jul 8, 2013-BYT July 4th Capitol Skyline-Ben Droz66 


The National Mall: This one’s kind of a no-brainer. Fireworks are shooting off from around the Reflecting Pool and it is GOING to be crowded, so get there early for a good seat. You’ll be able to see them from basically anywhere on the mall or the surrounding area, which means you can definitely consider staying away from major hot-spots like the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Memorial, unless you want to stake out your spot super early and bake in the heat until after dark.

The show is also televised as part of A Capitol Fourth and television means AIR CONDITIONING, less crowds and more access to your alcoholic beverages.



By Chris Kelly

Last year, I spent a sun-soaked Fourth eating booze-soaked Versace watermelon and drinking the liquid at the bottom of a jar of Moonshine Cherries. When it came time to make things explode, we got increasingly (over-)confident with the mortar we were using: one shell worked fine, so what about two at a time? Or three? Fun fact #1: the first explosion can tip the mortar and aim the subsequent fireworks into the crosswalk. Fun fact #2: Pedestrians don’t like it when fireworks go off in the crosswalk. Fun fact #3: if the cops are coming, change T-shirts and no one will be able to identify you. Happy Independence Day!


There’s nothing like lighting your own fireworks at home… except for if it’s ILLEGAL. This is DC, not the wide open spaces offered by other suburban areas where it seems like everyone and everything is lighting a firework in the middle of the street. There are tons of regulations regarding buying, selling and setting off fireworks. Have fun BUT DON’T GET ARRESTED please.

Prohibited Fireworks (according to MPD): 

  • Firecrackers of any kind or description
  • Any firework that explodes, such as cherry bombs, salutes, Roman candles, floral shells, artillery shells
  • Any firework intended to move after the piece is placed and fired; such as bottle rockets, parachutes, buzzbombs, pinwheels, helicopters, jumping jacks
  • Sparklers more than 20 inches (50mm) in length
  • Any firework that contains mercury, arsenic, tetryl, phosporous, sulpho- cyanide, magnesium, potassium picrate, gallic acid, chlorate of potash and sugar, or any highly oxidizing agent
  • Any firework having a side fuse, or a fuse inserted at any point along the length of the firework
  • Any firework found by the code official to be dangerous to the safety of persons or property

Permitted Fireworks (according to MPD): 

  • Toy paper caps containing not more than twenty-five hundredths (0.25) of a grain of explosive composition per cap
  • Sparklers not more than 20 inches (50mm) in length
  • Torches, cones
  • Box fires, fountains
  • Paper novelty items, colored lights
  • Dip-sticks, non-poisonous snakes


Firework Vendors Approved by DCRA


By Russ Marshalek

My first exposure to fireworks that I can remember was seeing them at the now infamously racist Stone Mountain Laser Show, in Stone Mountain, GA. Famously the home of 30 Rock’s Kenneth the Page and the “Chuckle Hut/Laugh Factory” (sort of, I think, a play on famous Atlanta comedy club The Punchline), Stone Mountain is a gloriously failed attempt at a monument to Presidents, the South Which Apparently Will Rise Again, and the, uh, War Of Northern Aggression. When, as told in lasers projected on the mountain every summer night to a lawn packed with hundreds of picnicking families, the south graciously, for the good of a nation, surrenders in the Civil War and thusly joins the United States (I’m not kidding, this is how it’s presented), “Proud To Be An American” plays, the entire lawn stands like school children at Pledge time, and fireworks explode in the air, celebrating the fact that, begrudgingly, the Confederacy decided they should maybe stop owning other humans.

God Bless America.


  • Keep a spray bottle nearby so your furry friends don’t overheat. You can also use this on yourself to keep cool.
  • If your pet get’s burned by falling flaming firework debris, DO NOT put ointment, cream, butter or whatever other home remedy you normally use on your own burns. Human skin does not equal pet skin.
  • DO clean the burned area and apply water to cool down the area and cover the wounds with sterile cloth. Take your pet to the vet if the burns are bad.
  • Some pets don’t like crowds, loud noises (aka fireworks) or BOTH. Keep this in mind so that you don’t have to worry about how your pet will behave if you a) brave the crowds on the National Mall or b) have a lot of people over to your place.
  • Animal-proof your cookout so your animals don’t eat your food. You don’t want your char-grilled hot dog being scarfed down by your hungry dog and these foods aren’t the best for your pets anyways.



By Jeff Jetton

Something about the smell of sulfur brings a smile to my face. Wait that sounds pretty gross. We’ve been blowing up about a grand worth of fireworks at Joel’s house in Columbia Heights for eleven years straight. Everyone welcome, there’s no dress code, but you should probably wear red white and/or blue. Phantom fireworks is the only place to buy. Get the big rockets. They’re expensive but worth it. Don’t blow money on anything else besides big rockets and Roman candles. The Roman candles are for dueling. I recommend two on two, standing about twenty feet apart. Sunglasses or some eye protection necessary. Definitely add alcohol. Buy enough fireworks that you can spare some for the confiscation that will inevitably happen when the cops show up. Have three or four stashes. They aren’t going to do anything aside from confiscate the closest stash. Small batches are best so you don’t lose too much loot.
Sadly, Joel has taken to bee keeping these days and we aren’t sure if Independence Day is the best day to test the theory that fireworks might not upset an active hive of 20,000 bees.


Independence Day Bash @ Beacon Sky Bar: (1615 Rhode Island Ave NW) This rooftop party should give you a good view of the fireworks. Plus food, drinks, dancing and all things red, white and blue. Tickets are $25.

Flight Wine Bar Rooftop Celebration: (777 6th St NW) If you’re willing to drop some cash to celebrate America, book an $85 spot for Flight’s rooftop celebration. Again, you’ll be able to see the fireworks and you can enjoy fancy wine and food without being surrounded by sweaty tourists.

701 Restaurant Patio Dinner: (701 Pennsylvania Ave NW) Their menu literally lists “Green Eggs and Ham” as a starter option for the Fourth of July dinner and I don’t know what else you really need. But don’t worry, there are more normal options like burgers and hot dogs from $8 to $15.

Town Tavern DC “Red, White, & Booze Independence Day Party”: (2323 18th St NW) $5 or $6 burgers and hot dogs, a $10 open bar from 9 .m. to 10 p.m., and $3 domestic bottles, $4 mix rails and $5 draft pints all day make Town Tavern a perfect pre-fireworks and post-fireworks stop.

Independence Day Party @ The Mansion on O Street: (2020 O Street NW) Explore the Mansion for just $10 this Fourth of July. There will be drinks and food for you to munch on while heading through secret passageways and rifling through the mess of odds and ends in the mansion.



By Brandon Wetherbee

I like things that explode. I enjoy destruction. I like reasons. July 4 is a day of random explosions full of unnecessary destruction. It’s a day for assholes to be even louder assholes and for animals to be scared. Did you forget you love animals? Of course you did. You hate everyone but yourself.

I enjoy fireworks set off by professionals. People need jobs. If you really love driving to not great states to buy something without purpose, driving back to the state that was smart enough to outlaw something that doesn’t need to exist and set off those things and clean up and make sure everyone is OK, maybe it should be your new career. If you’re not ready to make that commitment, why not stay in the state where blowing shit up is A-OK? Did you ever notice that only horrible states allow fireworks?

I like loud things. I prefer the sound of a drummer losing their shit to fireworks. There’s a reason for hearing loss if music is involved.

I like destruction. I prefer the destruction of places like NOT WHERE I LIVE. Or stages. Keep it on a stage. Shows belong on stages, not next to the currently-in-use grill.

I like bright lights. I use flood lights on a consistent basis.

I like professional fireworks. I do not like what you might do one day of the year while intoxicated. You better be intoxicated if you’re doing this shit. If not, what’s wrong with you?

The risk is amazingly high and the reward is remarkably small. It’s that simple. I also hate the holiday because I have a liberal arts degree and listened to a lot of Bad Religion as a teenager.


Jack Rose Dining Saloon: Jack Rose is throwing two beer-centric parties for Independence Day. On July 3 celebrate “Wet Hot Samerican Summer”. Get Samuel Adams on tap from $4 – $6 and canned from $3 – $5. Also, RAMMY award winner Trevor Frye will be making beer snowcones for $4. Then come back on July 4 for “AmeriCan Drink-Dpendence Day” on the rooftop. Snake Dog IPA and Easy IPA are $4 from 12-5pm and $5 until the fireworks end. Drafts are $4-$6. Get drunk. Watch the fireworks. Avoid the tourists.

Shake Shack: Shake Shack is serving Shack X, a new IPA created exclusively for Shake Shack by Brooklyn Brewery. They are also serving corn dogs and blueberry pie custard all Fourth of July weekend. Very American.

Republic: The Republic is hosting its first annual Fourth of July party. There will be food, over 25 different craft beers, and local live bands. There will also be $1 oysters. You can get tickets here.

The Gibson: The Gibson is debuting their $6 alcoholic popsicles at “Gibson Family Reunion” from 12-8pm. Pair that with $1 burgers and hotdogs. DJ Jasmine and DJ Eskimo will be spinning on the back patio.

Marx Café: Still want to party after the fireworks are done? Guest DJ Chris Callahan will be Marx Café for “We Fought the Big One: American Style.” Enjoy post-punk music, drink, and celebrate.

Jul 8, 2013-BYT July 4th Capitol Skyline-Ben Droz71


By Jeb Gavin

If I might offer any advice about fireworks it’s this: don’t have a Roman candle fight. But if you do have a Roman candle fight, don’t do it in the middle of a dry cornfield, easy to set ablaze. That said, if you’re going to do that, please don’t continue the Roman candle fight while the field fills with smoke and people begin to panic and trip over corn stalk roots. But if you’re twelve and a jerk and you continue the fight amid burning vegetation and screaming children, remember to take this opportunity to sneak off the field and eat all the watermelon and blackberries while no one’s paying attention. Trust me on this. And have a happy Fourth of July!


Post Fireworks 4th of July show with 19th Street Band @ The Hamilton:  (600 14th St NW) Tickets are $10 to hear the 19th Street Band rock out after the fireworks are over. It does start at 9 p.m., the same time as the firework show on the Mall, but it’ll last longer than the fireworks, so you can head here after.

USA Birthday Dance Party with The Borrowers @ Rock & Roll Hotel: (1353 H St NE) This free dance party starts at 10 p.m., so the fireworks will be finished, people will still be trying to find their way out of the National Mall and you (if you’re older than 21) can head over to Rock & Roll Hotel for some good America jams.

4th of July After Party @ George: (3251 Prospect St NW) RSVP on Facebook to get your free entry and access to drink specials galore.



By David Carter

It was another neighborhood gathering at the Carter household. This was back in the day when fireworks were legal in VA and so was texting while driving, because texting hadn’t been invented yet. Every 4th of July, or as the Mexicans call it, “We Don’t Celebrate that Holiday. We live in Mexico,” my father would sneak fireworks up from one of the Carolinas and put up a show when the sun went down. I know now that the sun didn’t really go down, it was just my perception and lack of understanding of the Earth’s rotation that led me to believe it was going down. But it was a simpler time then. Texting hadn’t been invented yet.

Like the cohorts of Nero, my neighbors frolicked and gorged on the processed carcasses my father seasoned with fire. Little did I know, that day was also the Season of Fire. Unlike a book by George R R Martin, no one dies in my story, but unfortunately, no one gets holiday boned.

Day succumbed to night and the firework show had been it’s expected success. The big bangs were not simply theories, and the Ooos and Aaahs were so articulate, it bordered on mockery. Then came the finale, a 10 inch 8×8 rocket box called “The Battalion.” Even now I wish I could’ve Instagramed this glorious gunpowder ridden cacophonous cannon, but I could not. Not even texting had been invented yet.

This explosive had missiles, fountains, mortar shells, it whistles and popped. This weapon was so impressive that I’m sure we secretly sold some to Iraq in the 80s. What was notable about this particular firework was that when all was said and done, when the boom tubes were empty and the hottest of dogs could be safely reinserted into their paired gullets, a small green army man would slowly descend from the heavens on a paper parachute and greet the Earth with grace… or so it had been advertised.

My father lit the fuse of this heavy hitter, pointed over the pond in our backyard. Fizzle. Puff. Nothing. A dud? A dud from my dad? Has my hero failed to entertain? Was this showboat crushed by the proverbial Mountain? Why am I making so many Game of Thrones references? I was too young to know of such tales! Remember, this was the early 90s. Texting hadn’t been invented yet.

He lights it again. KRAKOOM! Half of the rocket box rockets into the sky immediately, all exploding at once, creating a sound akin to if a monster truck ran over a marching band during halftime. The second half, wearing a cape of flame, shot straight towards my older sister, who’s screams were only rivaled by my laughter. The unlaunched barrels circled around her leg like some sort creative simile. Chaos reigned as parts of the ignitedfirework did too, but with a different spelling, landing on top of the voyeurs, decorating the potluck tables of too much coleslaw. The smoke and crowd settled, as my father shouted “Everyone alright?” across the battlefield. Then suddenly, as if answering that very clarion call, a small green army man sarcastically descend from heaven on a paper parachute, tea bagging me on the head.


By Legba Carrefour

According to the National Fire Prevention Association’s Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks, between nine and ten thousand Darwin Awards runner-ups are issued every year to people who injure themselves with fireworks. That only touches on the would-be-sobering-if-it-wasn’t-a-drinking-holiday numbers like “17,800 reported fires, including 1,200 total structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and other fires… resulting in $32 million in direct property damage.” You don’t want to be a statistic do you? So don’t do dumb shit with fireworks. We live in the age of the Internet y’all! A time when you can watch other people do dumb shit with fireworks for you.

Wanna see fireworks in the sink? Hate plumbers? We got fireworks in sinks for ya!

Wanna see fireworks in a pumpkin? Hate trick-or-treaters? We’ve seen this done and it’s a doozy. We had to scrape pumpkin off cars half a block away.

Wanna see Russians try to sink a sailboat with fireworks? Gurl! We got you covered!

Wanna see grown-ass adults accidentally fuck up a newly paid off car? Thank you, grown-ass adults!

Wanna see a tiny remote controlled car try to flee with fireworks strapped to it? Yeehaw!

Has all this whetted your appetite for fireworks? Again, we’ve got you covered. Check out Skylighter for all your needs. They LEGALLY sell the chemicals and have detailed videos to make anything from smoke bombs running the gamut of colors to beautiful, multi-stage rockets spewing forth stars at high altitude.