- The Washington Times - Monday, July 3, 2006

While many in the Washington area enjoyed the third day of an extended holiday weekend, it was just another day at the office yesterday for most federal workers and small-business owners on the eve of the Fourth of July.

Between 80 and 100 National Park Service rangers were deployed across the Mall in three shifts, said Bill Line, communications officer for the National Park Service.

“It’s all hands on deck,” Mr. Line said.

Rangers enforce national park laws and regulations, investigate complaints, lead tours, provide information to visitors and protect property.

Park Ranger Michael Kelly, stationed at the Lincoln Memorial, worked his normal shift of 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Ranger Kelly said every ranger upon being hired is told, “You have to work the Fourth.”

He said the average shift on the holiday is 6 a.m. to midnight. Rangers will fulfill their regular duties and help the crowds exit the Mall safely after the fireworks display tonight.

Because of the “Capitol Fourth” concert tonight and the rehearsal last night, the number of Capitol Police on duty was “probably a little more than usual,” said Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, public information officer.

All employees of Arlington National Cemetery — including administrative workers, grounds maintenance crew members, grave diggers and military personnel — were required to work yesterday unless they had scheduled leave, said Lori Calvillo, public affairs officer.

She said 25 persons, or about 25 percent of the work force, had scheduled leave.

Metro peak ridership in the morning was lower than the average peak ridership in June, spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said. He said 144,672 persons rode Metro between 5:30 and 9:30 a.m., compared with June’s average peak ridership of 246,059 during those hours.

In the private sector, many small businesses opened their doors.

Steve Caruso, manager of Caruso Florist at 1717 M St. NW, said the family-owned business that has been operating for more than 100 years is open every holiday except Christmas.

“It’s not too busy right now, but we’ll see how it goes,” Mr. Caruso said yesterday morning. He said the shop is often busy on Mondays delivering standing orders as well as birthday, anniversary, funeral and hospital orders. Several orders were placed for wreaths for veterans’ graves at Arlington National Cemetery.

Mr. Caruso said he did not see the normal Monday rush of commuters outside.

“You can definitely tell that a lot of people have the day off today,” Mr. Caruso said. He said his father, who owns the shop, was working and four siblings would be in the shop throughout the day.

Residential and commercial interior design firm Mathilda Cox Interiors was bustling yesterday, said its principal, Mathilda Cox. She said the company is busy throughout July because custom orders for furniture and upholstery must be placed to complete rooms before the year-end holidays.

The office, which has two other employees, will have a paid holiday today.

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