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Americans Gather In Nation’s Capital For July 4th Festivities

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(Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for Capital Concerts)

(Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for Capital Concerts)

 WASHINGTON (AP) — Tourists and locals alike were staking out spots on the National Mall Thursday afternoon for a Fourth of July fireworks display and a patriotic concert featuring Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond.
  
Thursday night’s concert on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol was to be followed by a 17-minute fireworks display on the other end of the Mall, near the Lincoln Memorial. Performers also included composer John Williams conducting portions of his score for the movie “Lincoln.”
  
On Thursday afternoon, visitors were relaxing in shady spots on the Mall, exploring the museums and memorials or enjoying a diverse menu of refreshments at an international folk festival outside the Smithsonian headquarters.
  
“It just seems appropriate, being here,” said Ian Hart, 16, of Newport News, Va., who traveled to Washington with his mother, sister and a family friend.
  
Although the National Park Service does not provide crowd estimates, the July Fourth celebration has attracted about 250,000 people in the past. The festivities in Washington also included a parade down Constitution Avenue.
  
Automatic budget cuts approved by Congress this year had a modest impact on the holiday. A second concert that’s been held in the past on the grounds of the Washington Monument was not staged this year, saving the park service $200,000, spokeswoman Carol Johnson said.
  
Some park service employees got the day off Thursday, which did not happen in the past, she said. Also, the park service did not plan to pick up trash on the Mall overnight; instead, it was to be picked up Friday.
  
Jane Murden, 57, and her husband Frank, 59, found a prime viewing spot near the Washington Monument but outside the security checkpoint that visitors had to go through to get closer to the fireworks. They ended up in the nation’s capital during a tour of East Coast major league ballparks.
  
“It’s a baseball trip that happens to be on the Fourth of July,” Jane Murden said.
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Follow Ben Nuckols on Twitter at https://twitter.com/APBenNuckols.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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