Thursday, October 6, 2005

Organizers of an evangelical Christian festival on the Mall this weekend said the event will take place despite forecasts for wet weather.

“The infrastructure is pretty much in place, the stage is built, the power is hooked up,” D.C. Festival spokesman Craig Chastain said yesterday. “Technically, we could probably do the show today.”

Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend the festival, which will feature Christian speaker Luis Palau as well as a skate park, a sports center and more than 10 contemporary Christian bands.

It will be held on the Mall between 12th and 14th streets Northwest from 1 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday.

The National Weather Service is forecasting a 50 percent chance of rain for tomorrow, but Mr. Chastain said crews have made preparations for inclement weather.

“Rain or shine we’re gonna do this thing,” he said. “The stage and all the electronics are covered. We’ve done it in rain before so we’re prepared.”

The festival is expected to be the largest religious event on the Mall since 1997, when several hundred thousand people participated in a Promise Keepers rally.

Still, city officials are making only minor road closures in the area.

Fourth Street from Pennsylvania to Independence avenues will be closed from 7 p.m. today to 11:00 p.m. Sunday, said Metropolitan Police officials.

In addition, Madison and Jefferson drives will be closed between Third and Seventh streets from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday.

Metro officials said they will not run additional trains during the festival. They recommended that riders avoid the Orange and Blue Lines because of the large crowds and track work that will close the Minnesota Avenue, Deanwood, Benning Road and Capitol Heights stations this weekend.

“It’s downtown, so we tell people: ‘If you can avoid going on the Orange and Blue lines, do so,’” said Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein. “There are special events in town every weekend, that’s just the nature of Washington, D.C.”

U.S. Park Police will provide security for the event. Sgt. Scott Fear, a Park Police spokesman, said officers are expecting a big crowd but no trouble.

“It’s another weekend on the National Mall,” he said.

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