- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Hundreds of thousands of people undeterred by the day’s heat and humidity have converged on the National Mall to celebrate the country’s 230th birthday.

About 100 people were treated for heat exhaustion today after the Independence Day parade on Constitution Avenue, according to the Associated Press.

One person was hospitalized, and the rest were treated at the scene by paramedics for injuries related to the 90-degree heat.

Stretched out on blankets, lawn chairs, under small pop-up tents, beneath trees, and equipped with American flags, sunscreen, water and food, people from across the country agreed that spending July 4 in the nation’s capital simply cannot be beat.

Outside the Capitol building, Miami resident Mike Hernandez waited in line to get close to the stage where performers, including Stevie Wonder, were scheduled to play.

For Mr. Hernandez, who was born in Cuba, today is more than just another Tuesday.

“It’s a great country with great opportunities,” said Mr. Hernandez, 56, who became a U.S. citizen about 30 years ago after coming to Florida at age 7. “I just want to be part of the festivities, celebrate being free. It’s a nice patriotic thing to do.”

Desiree Ritter, 12, said she “got excited” when she rolled into the city with her parents Sandy, 48, and Jim, 48, of Arizona.

“She started squealing coming into town,” Mrs. Ritter said, as she enjoyed on a hot dog from one of the scores of vendors around the Mall. “We went out of our way to come here. Thank God we have the freedoms we have in America.”

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