Thousands pack Mall for 4th of July celebrations

WASHINGTON - The heat and a brief storm did not stop thousands of people from flooding the National Mall for the annual Fourth of July celebration.

Some families secured a spot early on Tuesday to make sure they had a perfect view of the fireworks.

"It's a special day in our history and we like to celebrate," says John Dyre.

Dyre's wife, six children, and sixteen grandchildren converged on a blue tarp packed with chairs, coolers, and games. It's a five-year tradition that started when his kids were little.

"We have a new system we come here very early, we stake out our tarps, we fend of all comers until the fireworks."

The large turnout came to enjoy the Folk Life Festival, listen to live music from the United States Navy band, and get ready for the main attraction--the fireworks.

Mike Litterst, spokesperson for the National Mall, says the planning for the event starts right after cherry blossoms season, which includes security.

"U.S. Park Police work with the full range of federal, state and local law enforcement partners to ensure the safety of those who attend," he says. "The 4th of July festivity is without a question our biggest annual single-day event."

As of around 8:00 p.m., Litterst says the medical tents had treated 65 people and transported seven.

He didn't have a breakdown of the problems but said most were heat-related.

U.S. Park Police is reminding visitors to be patient as they head home from the celebration.​ They recommend considering metro stops other than the Smithsonian.

The metro will run until midnight tonight to help alleviate 4th of July traffic.