Thunder boomed and rain fell Thursday afternoon as people from around the world gathered on the National Mall in anticipation of President Trump’s “Salute to America” and the biggest Independence Day fireworks show in Washington.
Fourth of July festivities drew thousands of people as early as noon, more than six hours before Mr. Trump was scheduled to take the stage.
“I think everything is going to be great,” said Felip Zafani. “We have a lot of people having fun here and hopefully everything’s going to be nice and safe.”
Mr. Zafani came to Washington with his wife and son three days ago from Brazil for the Fourth of July celebrations. He said he was most excited for the fireworks.
People were decked out in “Make America Great Again” ball caps and “Trump 2020” T-shirts across the wide expanse of the Mall.
Keith Davis, an Air Force optometrist, and his wife, Olivia, flew in from Houston, Texas, to see Mr. Trump speak and to participate in other festivities.
“I think it’s wonderful,” said Dr. Davis, 63. “I particularly appreciate the solutes to the military and the veterans.”
He joined the Air Force when he was 55 to serve his country as a doctor. He and his wife are trying to visit all 50 states — Virginia will be No. 47 this weekend.
Elle Hinton rode motorcycles with six friends from Indiana to Washington for the celebrations. They left Tuesday morning, and were planning to leave at 6 a.m. Friday.
“[I’m looking forward to] a good speech and beautiful fireworks and cooler weather which we’re seeming to get, so god is good and we’ll get cooled off with some rain,” Ms. Hinton said.
Rain started to pour around 3:30 p.m., three hours before Mr. Trump was scheduled to speak, forcing people to take shelter underneath trees or wait it out under umbrellas.
Ms. Hinton came to Washington about 20 years ago for Fourth of July, and she said the main difference between then and now was the additional fencing on the Mall on Thursday.
Bill and Sandy Ballew drove from Georgia to take their granddaughter to the fireworks show for the first time.
“We heard on our way up here the president decided to speak today,” Mr. Ballew said. “So it was kind of like a double.”