- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 4, 2002

Business owners large and small are expecting big crowds and strong sales today, despite heightened security concerns and blistering heat accompanying the annual Fourth of July celebration on the Mall.
Victoria Isley, vice president of marketing and communications for the Washington, D.C., Convention & Tourism Corp. said as far as hotels are concerned, things are positive.
"From what we have heard from hotels, people are still booking and making plans to be in the area this Fourth of July," Miss Isley said.
Marsha Rosenthall, executive director of the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District, bounded by Dupont Circle, 21st Street NW, Pennsylvania Avenue and 16th Street NW, thinks people will come out despite security concerns.
"I think folks that are used to coming down to the Mall and doing family activities will continue to do so despite warnings and increased security," she said. "We're hearing good things."
Linda St. Thomas, associate director for media relations for the Smithsonian, said there is no way to tell how busy the museums will be.
She said foot traffic has never recovered to pre-September 11 highs. Still, street vendors surrounding the Mall and museums are stocking up for a busy July Fourth.
"The museums have been improving every month since September 11th," Miss St. Thomas said. "The Folklife Festival has been very, very popular, despite the heat. We think the festival could go over the 1.5 million mark."
Jim McVeigh, general manager at M&S; Grill at 13th and F streets is likewise expecting business as usual.
"The books, the reservation books, look about the same. Even last year it wasn't a normal reservation night. We had a ton of walk-in business," Mr. McVeigh said.
Mr. McVeigh guesses that most of his clientele for the Fourth of July are those familiar with the restaurant, and those with access to nearby office buildings and rooftops.
He said typically those people will go down for dinner, take advantage of the valet parking, and watch the fireworks from their preferred vantage. And with increased security, he is not convinced there will be much difference.
"We can only feed but so many people at once. You're talking about a pretty heavy saturation," he said.
While business owners are staying positive, the possibility of disaster is not far from their minds.
"Access to Golden Triangle looks good," said Miss Rosenthall. "We're obviously looking for the best. We're not anticipating anything."
"How this rolls out, I don't know. We're basically planning on having a normal night," Mr. McVeigh said. "I don't know how you plan for a disaster. It's not that we're not thinking about it, it's not that we're not taking safeguards, but we're counting on it being a normal night."

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