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There are many ways to celebrate freedom this Independence Day. But the real secret to enjoying 4th of July in the District is by dodging the flocks of tourists flooding the Mall. Conversely, you could also embrace this, and buy a bunch of glow sticks, grab a picnic, and join the masses. Either way, aim to straddle that line between freedom of expression and sheer drunken belligerency like only a true patriot can. Because no matter how you want to show your love for this lovely melting pot of a country, there’s no shortage of things to do today in the nation’s capital.

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 Megan Gailey

In my opinion, the 4th of July has the best holiday mascot. My love for fireworks ranks just behind the Indianapolis Colts, vodka sodas and my parents. Some of my favorite memories of my childhood have fireworks in them. Granted, I am from Indiana where you buy those suckers from your daycare. We love to light shit up and set it off on some land our friend’s uncle owns!

Now I find myself out of the Midwest and needing to adjust my hillbilly pyrotechnic fantasies. So this Independence Day I’ll be celebrating in a true American fashion as 6 former sorority girls descend on NYC. As a comic, friends coming to town means friends sleeping on your couch, floor, roof. But when normal people friends with normal people jobs visit ($$$$) those bitches stay in SoHo!

Luckily, the 4 day celebration begins with a Mets v. Cubs game. Mets stadium is great, there’s a big apple that comes up in the outfield when runs are scored by the home team and a Shake Shack. There’s also no one there. I once saw a man dancing with a dog over his head in a Mets jersey. It’s like a nice condo building whose development company went bankrupt but they still let you run around. There will probably be more Cubs idiots in attendance.

This is when the itinerary takes a real turn. FYI, real people make trip itineraries because it looks like they’re “working” at work. I think everything on the list has the phrase “grab drinks” in it. Sometimes it’s grab nice drinks, grab dive bar drinks, grab drinks on a roof, grab drinks from strangers visiting from Nashville, grab drinks in Brooklyn, grab drinks by a body of water, grab drinks from babies, etc… I’m on an antibiotic so 90% of my week has been googling “can you drink while taking….” And according to all my new internet Dr. friends, I can drink!! OBAMACARE!!!!

There are some rules when so many sorority girls get in the same place:

  • Only one fashion hat per group, per day
  • If you can’t walk in your shoes when you’re leaving the hotel, you gotta change
  • No more than two unnecessary belts at a time
  • Overalls welcome but must get a 3/4 majority vote
  • Crying is inevitable
  • 15 minute crying maximum
  • All ladies must have Chase QuickPay

Some people say women don’t travel well in groups. I once went to Vegas with 12 other women. I lost my wallet in the first 3 hours and was without a debit card, credit card and cash for the whole weekend. I had the best two days of my life. It takes a village.

Happy Fireworks!


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.


The Fainting Goat: Someone has the throw a BBQ on the 4th. This year Fainting Goat is that someone. They’ll be hosting “Picnic at the Goat” from 2-9 PM. It’ll feature a special menu that includes fried chicken, BBQ brisket, Old Bay peel n’ eat shrimp, Carolina BBQ pork sliders, and obviously tons of corn on the cob.

Kapnos Taverna: Has a special to-go menu ready for the 4th. Guests can choose from the Greek spreads, sides, and roasted meats. But hurry because the deadline to place an order is on July 2. All orders will be ready for pick-up on the 4th.

Graffiato: Available all day July 3-5, at $39 a person, Mike Isabella’s Italian-inspired Chinatown restaurant, Graffiato, will be hosting a classic summer lobster bake. You get a pound of lobster along with other summer favorites.

G: Mike Isabella is also offering picnic baskets that include: choice of sandwich or salad per person, choice of canned/bottled beverage, two sides, and chips and Nutella cookies. You know the kind of thing your mom would pack, if she were a superstar chef.

Centrolina’s Mercato: Offers two different picnics to choose from. There’s the Americano basket that includes fried chicken, potato salad, Route 11 potato chips, chocolate chip cookies, two lemon bars. It also includes two beers per person from Atlas District Commons.Then there’s the Italiano basket, which includes prosciutto, fennel salami, mozzarella, Gordy’s Pickled Pepper, an arugula sandwich, orzo salad, grissini, and biscotti and lemon ricotta cookies for dessert. This basket also comes with prosecco. A basket for two cost $75 while a basket for four costs $150. The deadline to place an order is July 1 at 2 PM.

Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats: Indulge in some stars and sparkles cupcakes $4 each or $36 for a dozen.

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken: It’s the only place celebrating the 4th by offering a birthday cake doughnut. The doughnut cake is a chocolate cake doughtnut with vanilla glaze, buttercream and sprinkles from India Tree in Settle. There is also available for USA doughnuts.

STK: Guests get two complimentary Budweisers when they place an order of Lil BRGs (they come as a pair) on July 4th.

Flight Wine Bar Rooftop Celebration: Want to wine, dine, and have a rooftop view of the fireworks, then you’ll have shell out some cash. If you want to do this at Flight Wine Bar the price is exactly $95.



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 celebrating all weekend, hosting what they’re dubbed, “AmeriCAN DrinkDependence Weekend parties for Independence Day. On both July 4th and 5th enjoy $4 Flying Dog brews and 1/2 priced bites on dishes. The Terrence will open at 4 PM, which should be just in time to avoid the tourists swamping the National Mall.

BLT Steak: They’ve created a special red, white and blue cocktail for the 4th entitled “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” The drink gets its red and blue color from house made strawberry lime and blueberry lime ice cubes, Ford’s Gin, key lime, juice, white peach puree, and pink peppercorn syrup. Now doesn’t that just sound like the best kind of fancy.

Shake Shack: Thursday through Sunday, the Shake Shack will be serving up Shack Corn Dogs and Blueberry Pie Oh My Concrete (vanilla frozen custard blended with a slice of delicious Shack-made blueberry pie). 

Bier Baron: Looking to provide some pre-firework entertainment, Bier Baron is hosting theme party/comedy show in honor of America’s birthday.


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: Like last year 19th Street Band will be rocking out after the fireworks are over. Also, like last year, tickets will be $10. Though it starts at 9 p.m., the same time as the firework show on the Mall, you’ll still be able to make it. No one likes openers, anyways.

Independence Day Silent Disco: At the Rooftop of the Embassy Row Hotel in Dupont Circle, come and enjoy fireworks and disco. Tickets are $40 and you better come sporting some red, white, and blue.

Fairmont Red, White, and BBQ: The Georgetown hotel will be hosting an after the fireworks party with drink specials and BBQ. Tickets are $20.



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 ignited firework 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.