- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 7, 2005

F ireworks aficionados in the nation’s capital know there are two very popular spots to watch the Fourth of July display. One is the rooftop of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

Smithsonian Director Lawrence Small has been hosting the party there for the last six years and his 400 guests — donors, friends of the museum and their families — always feel very special to be invited to the annual picnic supper overlooking the Washington Monument and the mob on the Mall.

There were balloons, plastic flashlights with tiny fans, fiddle music, glow-in-the-dark necklaces and ice cream. Plenty of ice cream, in fact, for the starry-eyed, sugar craving kid in all of us.

Not to mention basic American cooking at its finest — wieners with sauerkraut, baked beans, corn on the cob, chocolate chip cookies — ensuring a fun family affair.

“This is our very first ‘Fourth’ in Washington,” said David Behring, whose father Kenneth E. Behring, a Florida real estate billionaire, funded the $20 million display of elephants and other animals in the recently renamed Kenneth E. Behring Mammal Hall.

“We just don’t have anything like this back in California,” said his wife, Lisa Behring, who reported that their daughter Stephanie (“almost 11”) was having a ball.

Her favorite thing so far? “The ice cream,” of course.

When the fireworks began shortly after 9 p.m., the rooftop was silent save for Gloria Estefan’s voice piped in from her concert on the Mall, and the oohs and ahhs which followed every glorious starburst.

As for the other best fireworks-watching spot? That would be the White House lawn.

Mr. Small said he wouldn’t know about that; he’s never been invited.

Stephanie Mansfield

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