National Mall Fourth of July fireworks: Some changes this year, officials say

This Thursday, the United States will celebrate its 248th birthday, which means thousands upon thousands of people will be heading to the National Mall to see the spectacular fireworks show this Independence Day. 

However, for those who love to view the Fourth of July fireworks show from the Lincoln Memorial, you’ll have to scope-out another spot. The National Mall’s National Park Service says the Lincoln Memorial steps will be closed on Thursday. 

"Due to safety concerns from anticipated crowding and limited access caused by ongoing construction on the steps, the Lincoln Memorial will be closed on July 4. The plaza and lawn by the Reflecting Pool will be open as usual for fireworks viewing. The memorial will reopen on July 5," the National Park Service posted to social media.

Don’t worry! NPS Spokesperson Mike Litterst tells FOX 5 there are still plenty of seats on the plaza to view the show, including the steps of the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool. 

READ MORE: Fourth of July fireworks in DC: Where to watch, when they start & more

There are a few other changes those headed to the National Mall will need to be prepared for on Thursday. This includes weather! We’ve seen some very comfortable days but Thursday is expected to be hot and hazy with possible storms. 

Litterst says there is a plan in place should the National Park Service and U.S. Park Police need to evacuate the National Mall into nearby Smithsonian Museums and federal buildings due to weather.

Litterst is cautioning people to stay hydrated and maybe not come to the National Mall as early. 

The National Mall will close 14th Street by the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial starting at 4 a.m. July 4th for security sweeps. That secured area will open at 1 p.m. for visitors to claim their seat for the big fireworks show, which does not begin until 9:09 p.m. 

The Fireworks show is a booming and dazzling 17-minute program by the Washington Monument. 

Those entering into the secure perimeter will need to go through security in order to be allowed entrance. Here’s the list of prohibited items. 

This is one of just a whole host of Independence Day events happening in and around D.C. for the nation’s birthday bash. FOX 5 will be streaming the Independence Day Parade starting at 11:45 a.m. 

Getting to celebrate the nation’s birthday in D.C. is a special opportunity for Patrick and Cathy Davis, in town this year for a Christian Chorus event they’re participating in. 

"Just being thankful for our country," is what Patrick Davis says he’ll be thinking about as the fireworks launch. 

"And freedom is not free and this really brings it home ," Cathy Davis added, "and the incredible sacrifice and it makes me cry just to see what people went through just to make it so we can be here."

Litterst, D.C.’s Mayor and other city officials all encourage those headed to the National Mall to take Metro. WMATA’s General Manager Randy Clarke announced this week, Metro Bus, Metro Rail and Metro Access will be offering free service 5 p.m. to midnight on Thursday.

National Mall Fourth of July fireworks: Some changes this year, officials say

Site Closures

- The National Mall will be closed between 14th Street and the Lincoln Memorial from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, July 4 for a security sweep. All visitors entering that area after 1 p.m. will be screened.

- Due to limited access and safety concerns caused by construction, the Lincoln Memorial, including the steps and access ramp, will be closed on July 4.

- The Washington Monument will close at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, July 3 and reopen at 9 a.m. on Friday, July 5.

- Access to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial will be limited after 8 p.m. The memorial will remain open, but the public will not be able to access the memorial from Independence Ave. after 8 p.m. Access will be available from West Basin and Ohio drives.

- The World War II Memorial will close at 4 p.m. on July 4. Cleanup of the memorial will begin immediately following the fireworks show and the site will open as soon as the cleanup is complete.

- Paddle boats at the Tidal Basin will not operate on July 4.

- Big Bus Tours will not operate on the Mall on July 4.

- The D.C. Circulator’s National Mall route will not operate on July 4.

- East Potomac Golf Course will be open regular operating hours on July 4 (6:30 a.m. - 9 p.m.).

- East Potomac Tennis Center will close at 3 p.m. on July 4.

Road Closures

The following roads will be closed and off limits to vehicles:

Starting at 4 a.m. on July 4 and until approximately 12 a.m. (midnight) on July 5

- Arlington Memorial Bridge and Arlington Memorial Circle, to and including Lincoln Memorial Circle

- Rock Creek Parkway south of Virginia Avenue NW to Lincoln Memorial Circle, including all approaches and ramps

- Parkway Drive from Rock Creek Parkway to Lincoln Memorial Circle

- Henry Bacon Drive NW from Constitution Avenue to Lincoln Memorial Circle, NW

- Daniel Chest French Drive SW from Independence Ave SW to Lincoln Memorial Circle

- Lincoln Memorial Circle and all approaches and ramps into and out of Lincoln Memorial Circle, including Henry Bacon Drive NW, Daniel Chester French Drive SW, 23rd Street NW and 23rd Street SW

- Ramp from Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge to Constitution Avenue NW and Independence Avenue SW and Ohio Drive SW; all inbound traffic from the bridge will be directed to the E Street Expressway

- Constitution Avenue NW from 23rd Street NW to 15th St NW

- 23rd St SW from Independence Ave SW to Lincoln Memorial Cir and Constitution Ave to Lincoln Memorial Circle

- 17th St NW from Constitution Ave NW to Independence Ave SW

- Homefront Drive SW

- 15th Street NW from Constitution Ave NW to Independence Ave SW

- Raoul Wallenberg Place SW to Maine Avenue SW

- Independence Avenue SW from 14th Street SW to 23rd Street SW, including merge with Rock Creek Parkway

- Ohio Dr SW from 23rd St SW to Inlet Bridge

- Madison Drive NW from 15th Street NW to 3rd Street NW

- Jefferson Drive SW from 15th Street SW to 3rd Street SW

- East Basin Drive SW east of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial to Ohio Drive SW

- West Basin Drive SW from Ohio Drive SW to Independence Avenue, SW

- Ramp from southbound and northbound George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP) to Memorial Avenue /Circle

- Ramp from northbound Va. Route 110 to Memorial Avenue/Circle

- Ramp from Va. Route 27 to Memorial Avenue/Circle

- The right lane of northbound George Washington Memorial Parkway from the 14th Street Bridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island

- Access to East Potomac Park from I-395 will be by National Park Service permit only after 4 p.m.

Closed from 3 p.m. on July 4 until approximately 12 a.m. (midnight) on July 5

- Eastbound U.S. Route 50 ramps to the George Washington Memorial Parkway and roads in the immediate area of U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial;

- Southbound GWMP ramp to 14th Street Bridge (8 p.m. – 9:45 p.m. as necessary)

- Northbound GWMP ramp to 14th Street Bridge (8 p.m. – 9:45 p.m. as necessary)

- A full listing of all closures can be found here.

Access Points

The access points for viewing the fireworks display are at the following locations:

- Constitution Avenue at Henry Bacon Drive NW

- 17th Street NW at Constitution Ave NW

- 15th Street NW at Madison Drive NW

- 14th Street SW at Jefferson Drive SW

- George Mason Memorial

Medical Aid Stations

- Lincoln Memorial Circle near the Korea War Veterans Memorial.

- Washington Monument Grounds, along Constitution Avenue NW, north of the Washington Monument

- Washington Monument Grounds, west of the ranger station along Independence Avenue SW

- 15th Street SW at Jefferson Drive SW

- The Mall at 12th Street walkway near the Smithsonian Metro Station.

Safe Havens

In the event of inclement weather, the following locations are designated as safe havens:

- Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium – 1301 Constitution Avenue NW

- Department of Education Headquarters Building – 400 Maryland Avenue SW

- Department of the Interior Headquarters Building – 1849 C Street NW

- General Services Administration Headquarters Building – 1800 F Street NW

- Herbert C. Hoover Federal Building (Department of Commerce) – 1401 Constitution Avenue NW

- Internal Revenue Service Headquarters Building – 1111 Constitution Avenue NW

- Jamie L. Whitten Federal Building (Department of Agriculture) – 1400 Jefferson Drive SW

- National Museum of African American History and Culture – 1400 Madison Drive NW

- National Museum of American History – 1300 block Madison Drive NW

- Ronald Reagan Building – 1301 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

- Wilbur J. Cohen Federal Building – 330 Independence Avenue SW

Family Reunification Area

- A family reunification area is located on the southwest side of the Washington Monument grounds. Any missing persons found by event officials will be brought to this trailer to be reunited with family.

Alternative Text for the Stationary Map of July 4th Events Area Image