Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser has spoken out against President Donald Trump’s proposed changes to this year’s Fourth of July celebration in the nation’s capital, saying she prefers the format remain the way it has been in years past, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
“The President can speak at any event that he wants to speak at,” Bowser said in an interview Thursday with the Post. “And my great hope would be that he recognizes that the event is a unifying event that celebrates the birthday of our nation.”
The Washington Post reported last week that Trump has laid tentative plans to upend the traditional Fourth of July celebrations in Washington, moving the fireworks show from the National Mall and perhaps including an address from the President himself. His plans sent DC lawmakers scrambling to address the logistics of his ideas and led to concerns that the typically nonpartisan celebration could quickly escalate into a political event.
The Independence Day celebrations have not undergone serious reconsideration since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to the Post. When asked directly by the paper if she would prefer this year’s festivities to stay the way they have been in years past, Bowser said, “Yes.”
A major Fourth of July parade already takes place in the nation’s capital each year. America’s National Independence Day Parade goes through the heart of downtown Washington and consists “of invited bands, fife and drum corps, floats, military and specialty units, giant balloons, equestrian, drill teams, VIP’s, national dignitaries and celebrity participants,” according to the parade’s website. The DC celebration has been broadcast on television since 1947, and it has included a free concert since 1981 on the lawn of the Capitol.
In the interview with the Post, most of Bowser’s concerns were logistical – fear that the increased security presence with the President’s attendance could strain local law enforcement and hamper the experience of the many tourists who visit DC during the Fourth of July celebrations.
“We are very happy to host the nation’s fireworks here every year, and over the years it’s become a pretty well-oiled machine,” Bowser said. “That is our primary concern: How do people have a good time, celebrate and be safe on the Mall and getting home?”
“If we have to put more police to cover his movements, more police for the fireworks and an additional location for police where the fireworks are going to get set off, that puts a strain on us,” Bowser said in the interview with the Post. “We won’t allow it to impact neighborhood safety. So the chief will have to think about if he needs additional resources.”
Since attending the Bastille Day celebration in Paris in 2017, Trump has made a public push for large-scale events where he is the centerpiece. In early 2018, the administration planned a military parade for Veterans Day that was to include tanks rolling through the nation’s capital. The event was eventually postponed, then canceled due to its high costs.
The cancellation of the military parade marked one of the first spats between the President and Bowser, which led to the mayor calling herself the “local politician who finally got thru to the reality star in the White House.”