The Fourth of July tradition at our house is a simple one: We eat dinner and settle in front of the television to watch "A Capitol Fourth" on PBS. The tradition prevailed for another year, this time before a more modern television on WUNC-TV's high-definition channel. Not since we had small children at home have we joined the crowd to watch the fireworks, which at that time were sponsored by Parkwood Mall. On one Fourth of July a few years ago, we drove to Fleming Stadium for a baseball game and decided to leave early to beat the crowd before the fireworks began. We ended up stuck in traffic as the fireworks exploded overhead.
Seeing the fireworks over the Capitol, Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument, even if vicariously, seems better than fighting the crowds. In the three years that we lived in the Washington suburbs, we assiduously avoided tourism events and big crowds in downtown Washington. The Capitol Fourth celebrations did not begin until after we moved away. If I were living there now, I doubt that I'd want to fight the crowds, the traffic and the heat to watch the fireworks in person.
Television also gives me good views of the performers and clear hearing of the music. "Stars and Stripes Forever" and the "1812 Overture" make the holiday, especially as the cannon boom and the fireworks sparkle overhead.
After we turn the TV off, we hear the exploding fireworks from Fleming Stadium, about two miles away, and from the neighborhood, where there is always someone with a stash of illegal fireworks. Unfortunately, the tall trees surrounding our house block the view of such fireworks, and we are left with only the audio of this extravaganza.