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Boom!: DC's Best Fourth of July Parties and Events

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As usual, the nation’s capitol will be rife with parades, events and hometown throwdowns of all kinds for July 4th, 2009 (this year being the United States of America’s 233rd birthday and all). Follow CultureMobjuly-4th as we take a tour of DC’s Independence Day festivities on the National Mall and beyond. Way beyond.

Just remember: the fireworks start as soon as it’s dark (usually around 9), but whatever rabble you rouse before or after is up to you.

Let’s start with the daylight hours, shall we?

America’s National Independence Day Parade

Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th Street
11:45 am

Get up close and personal with a few hundred thousand of your fellow countrymen as July 4th’s second biggest draw (next the fireworks, naturally) ambles its way past the Washington Monument and down Constitution Avenue. As the festival organizers say, it’s “a patriotic, flag-waving, red white and blue celebration of America’s birthday!” [www.july4thparade.com]

The National Archives Annual July 4th Celebration
Constitution Ave. NW (between 7th & 9th St.)
10 am – 2 pm

The family-friendly celebration of American independence kicks off with “a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence led by very special guests” and ends with a treasure hunt through the Archives Experience. In between, one can “air your grievances in Revolutionary manner with a quill pen” or “don a tri-cornered hat and step up to the podium to declare your independence.” Powder your wig in advance…this is pretty risqué stuff. [www.archives.gov]

40th Annual Smoke-Insmoke-in
23rd & Constitution Ave NW
(Near the Lincoln Memorial and Foggy Bottom Metro on 23rd Street)
2:00 pm -9:00 pm

Far out of earshot of the marching bands and field trips, you’ll find this free celebration of all things marijuana – this year celebrating its landmark 40th anniversary with music from HR of the Bad Brains, See-I, Christos, Telesma and The Package. Legalize it (or at least pretend to for the afternoon)! [www.smoke-in.org]

A Capitol Fourth 2009 Concert
West lawn of the US Capitol
8 pm to 9:30 p.m. (Gates open to the public at 3 p.m.)

Actor Jimmy Smits takes a second turn hosting the US government’s official (and extremely milquetoast) July 4th concert. This year’s entertainment consists of performances from the National Symphony Orchestra, Aretha Franklin, the cast of the Broadway musical Jersey Boys, crooner Michael Feinstein and pianist Andrew van Oeyen. Plus, the Sesame Street gang will round out the day’s all-ages entertainment with appearances from Big Bird, Elmo and the rest in tow.

The event is completely free and will be simulcast on PBS for those watching at home. [www.kennedy-center.org]

4th-funk
4th of July Funk

The Black Cat
1811 14th Street, NW
10 pm – 2 am

DJ Regal, the Fort Knox Five and All Good Funk Alliance will be present for a post-fireworks turntablist expo/record release party for the Radio Free DC Remixed LP. Meanwhile, The Wag – the Black Cat’s monthly 60s soul and garage night – will hold court on the backstage for a whopping five bucks. [www.blackcatdc.com]

Now go. Celebrate the birth of your nation…by blowing a small piece of it up. Happy Fourth, all.