One of the great advantages that comes from staying in Baltimore over the summer is that you can celebrate Independence Day in the nation’s capital. I have to admit, that at first, I was a little hesitant to set plans in D.C. for the Fourth of July, given the very volatile politics occurring in our nation today. However, I was convinced to go when I saw how many ways you could celebrate there. So, despite my lingering reservations I hopped on a MARC train with my sister to D.C., decked out in red, white, and blue. When we arrived, my sister and I met up with good friends of ours that go to school in D.C. to enjoy the day’s festivities together.
We grabbed breakfast together, took the metro, and walked what felt like a hundred blocks to get to the main event for the day, the Independence Day Parade. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect; in Florida, Fourth of July activities usually get rained out and there has never really been a parade in my town. Also, with how divided the country is politically, I wasn’t sure what side of things I would see there. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The parade celebrated the diversity of our country, with cultural groups performing from all over the area, from a mariachi band, to a South Asian percussion group, to a huge, elaborate float and entourage celebrating Sikh culture. Along with these groups, high school marching bands and dance teams from all over the country performed throughout the entire parade. Overall, it was an amazing display of how the way in which our differences, and all the unique stories we tell as Americans, shape our country and make us better, together. It felt empowering to cheer them on from the sidelines and to witness their self-expression, as Americans showcasing their individuality and heritage.
Also, for all college students on a budget, the parade is absolutely free, and it’s easy to buy super cheap flags, water bottles, and popsicles from vendors on the sidewalks. The last two items were definitely necessary purchases, since it was about one hundred degrees outside. There are also a lot of other free activities going on in D.C. that day too. There was a firework show at night, cannons going off in the day, and concerts! Also, all the usual free perks of a D.C. trip like touring the National Mall, as well as all the museums were still open to the public on Fourth of July. So, you can still explore whatever makes you feel patriotic, whether it’s space shuttles, the first American flag or the new portraits of President Obama, and First Lady Michelle. That also means there’s a lot of places to escape the heat. I would definitely recommend the trip to anyone who spends the summer in Baltimore.