- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 5, 2007

Henry Miller comes to the Independence Day Parade in the District every year, arriving early to stake out a good spot on Constitution Avenue between the Capitol and the White House.

This year was no different. The 78-year-old Fairfax resident had a curbside seat to the huge balloons, floats and military bands marching by.

“It’s a way for me to come out and celebrate the fact that we live in the greatest country on earth,” he said as a crew of dancers in bright blue costumes created a rhythm with the rattles attached to their boots. “It’s a patriotic crowd, good music and a lot of fun.”

Thousands of people lined the sidewalks of Constitution Avenue in Northwest yesterday for the parade, which began just before noon.

Temperatures stayed in the mid-80s, lower than normal for July, and a cool breeze under hazy skies kept most revelers from overheating — a refreshing change from recent years, when weather played a major role in the parade.

Last year, about 200 people were treated for heat exhaustion when temperatures soared into the 90s. Two years ago, storms dumped 2 inches of rain on the city and forced the cancellation of the parade.

Just 21 persons were treated for a variety of medical reasons during the parade yesterday, and none were taken to the hospital, said fire department spokesman Alan Etter.

Edward Hamilton, 36, watched the parade with his family from a shady patch along 7th Street Northwest , where it began. He brought his family all the way from Orlando, Fla., to spend the Fourth of July holiday in the District.

“We can visit the museums any time , but being here during this holiday is just great,” he said. “What a way to celebrate the birthday of the USA.”

His son Anthony, 7, said the group of Marines who marched near the beginning of the parade was his favorite, though the huge Curious George balloon that floated above the pavement was a close second.

“I liked to see the soldiers marching because they protect us, and I want to be like them,” he said.

Army, Navy, and Air Force units joined the Marines in the parade.

The procession included many different cultural groups, from a Taiwanese-American group that waved American flags to a group of Bolivian dancers whose traditional costumes sported sparkling “USA” patches.

“Where else would I want to be?” said Krista Springer, 29, as she hoisted her 2-year-old daughter, Adrianna, onto her shoulders. “This is the place to be for July 4th.”

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