Mall a magnet for holiday crowds undaunted by heat, ready for fun

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Ellen Schmidt, of Magnolia, N.J., said the heat could not keep her from a decades-long tradition of attending the July Fourth festivities, which include a swearing-in ceremony for new citizens in front of Independence Hall.

“I celebrate this country and the freedoms that we have, and the freedoms that I wish for everyone,” Ms. Schmidt said.

In New York, about a dozen disabled soldiers — most triple or quadruple amputees — visited ground zero ahead of the usual throng of tourists. The visit was intended to salute service members who survived the post-9/11 wars to become miracles of modern medicine, and to promote two charities raising money for homes custom-built to ease their burdens.

The city’s celebration was capped with the Macy’s fireworks show off Manhattan, with 40,000 aerial shells launched from five barges.

With the District’s temperatures in the high 90s and a heat index of 104, those on the Mall found creative ways to stay cool.

The National Gallery Sculpture Garden was a popular spot for adults and children to soak sunburned feet and cool off along the circular fountain.

While waiting for the fireworks display, some visitors passed time with electronic readers and newspapers.

The family of Sherry Moeser of Sterling, Va., set up a volleyball net at noon. Ms. Moeser said her family has been bringing the net on July 4 for the past 21 years to share with friends and co-workers. She said she expected 20 people to arrive by the time the fireworks started.

“This is like Christmas for us,” said Ms. Moeser’s mother, Linda. “No presents. Just fun.”

Fun also was to be had at some of the Mall’s other attractions. Throughout the day, lines snaked down the steps of the Smithsonian’s natural history and American history museums.

Scattered thunderstorms that were forecast spared those who made the trek to the Mall.

To accommodate extra riders, Metro ran a Saturday schedule but operated trains at rush-hour service levels from 6 p.m. to midnight.

While the Mall’s festivities continued as planned, fireworks and other Independence Day events were canceled in Gaithersburg, Germantown, Rockville and Kensington as cleanup from Friday’s storm continued.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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