A hot time on the Fourth of July in D.C.; people of all ages enjoy the spectacles of the holiday

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Thousands clustered on the Mall on a humid, warm D.C. day to celebrate the Fourth of July, while around the nation the Statue of Liberty finally reopened after Superstorm Sandy swamped its little island and Boston held its first large gathering since the marathon bombing that killed three and injured more than 200.

In the District, tourists from across the country and local residents were seen towing whole watermelons, guzzling liters of water or desperately licking dripping ice cream cones as they attended afternoon attractions and staked out spots for the evening’s concert and fireworks show.

SEE ALSO: Obama marks Fourth of July, calls the U.S. ‘global defender of peace and freedom’

“It’s eye-opening,” said David Robles, an accountant from Westminster, Colo., describing the lively festivities and the grand architecture and memorials of the District. Mr. Robles, his wife and their two children came to the District for the first time this Independence Day to be “part of the history and feel proud to be Americans.”

Nancy McFarland and her husband, Walter, had been in Washington from Boiling Springs, S.C., for a week visiting their grandson. They attended the festivities for the nation’s 237th birthday after what turned out to be an emotional sightseeing trip to the monuments and memorials.

“I cry at parades. I cry at war memorials. I’m just very proud of my country,” said Mrs. McFarland, 59.

Asher Stroh, 2, waits for the Palisades July 4th Parade to begin, Washington, D.C., Thursday, July 4, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

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Asher Stroh, 2, waits for the Palisades July 4th Parade to begin, ... more >

Throughout the day, clouds threatened but didn’t burst, with high humidity and temperatures climbing to 88 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Ann Massoud, a teacher from Alexandria who was among a group that staked out a position outside the National Gallery of Art, said she was pleasantly surprised it didn’t rain.

“It’s hot, but we brought plenty of water bottles,” she said.

SEE ALSO: Fourth of July gift: Statue of Liberty reopens for business

Not everyone was bothered by the heat.

Jackie Fair, who is in the Air Force and living with his wife, Nicole, at Fort Meade, Md., said, “It’s hot, but we’re from Texas, so this really isn’t that bad.”

Early in the day, the National Independence Day Parade on Constitution Avenue and the ongoing Smithsonian Folklife Festival drew large numbers to the Mall. As the day wore on, crowds drifted toward the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol ahead of “A Capitol Fourth,” the 8 p.m. nationally televised concert featuring musical performances by Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond and “American Idol” winners Candice Glover and Scotty McCeery among others.

Composer John Williams conducted the National Symphony Orchestra in a performance of his music from the film “Lincoln.”

By late afternoon, the areas around the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial began filling with people staking out positions for the day’s signature celebratory event, the fireworks display which began at 9:10 p.m.

Meghan Molina, 12, was with her parents, who secured a spot near the Washington Monument at about 3 p.m. for their family’s first trip to see the fireworks on the Mall. Asked what she expected, she said, “Something really big, really exciting and really pretty.”

Some visitors noted immediately that the backdrop for the display was slightly different than past years.

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