An M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle arrives in front of the Lincoln Memorial during preparations ahead of the Fourth of July Celebration 'Salute to America' event in Washington.

An M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle arrives in front of the Lincoln Memorial during preparations ahead of the Fourth of July Celebration 'Salute to America' event in Washington.



Rainstorms threatened to put a damper on what President Donald Trump has touted as the “show of a lifetime” as crowds trickled in to the National Mall to mark the July 4th holiday.

Faced with blazing sun and oppressive heat in the morning before being hit with steady rain during the afternoon, visitors gathered on the National Mall for Trump’s speech at 6:30 p.m. and the fireworks to follow. Vendors selling Trump 2020 campaign merchandise dotted the Mall.

Temperatures reached 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) before cooling to the mid-70s. A flash-flood watch was in effect for the Washington area, with the forecast showing storms possible during the president’s speech.

Ronda Bumgardner, a hairdresser from Fredericksburg, Virginia, opted to don a poncho and wait out the rain along with thousands of others who had set up lawn chairs and picnic blankets to wait for Trump’s address.

“I’m excited to see the president,” she said. “The planes, the speech, make everything more special.”

Spectators waiting for Thursday’s program, which includes flyovers by fighter jets, a B-2 bomber and Air Force One, in addition to Trump’s speech, pulled out rain gear or huddled under trees. Thursday’s events also include a concert on the west lawn of the Capitol building at 8 p.m. and the culminating fireworks display.

“We’re just telling people there is a high likelihood of rain” and to “be prepared,” said Ted White, a park ranger with the National Park Service who was standing by crowds near the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

Trump supporter Kim Tarver, a secretary who had traveled from Clanton, Alabama, to celebrate Independence Day in the capital, arrived early and said she wouldn’t be deterred by rain.

Trump has garnered some opposition for his role in the celebration, which typically doesn’t include presidential speeches and steers clear of politics. Critics says the speech could effectively turn the event into a Trump rally that is likely to draw counter-protests.

John Fink, a 23-year-old New Yorker, used an expletive to say he’ll ignore Trump’s direct involvement in the celebrations.

“I’m trying to spread my patriotism by saying I am not going to let you stop me from celebrating my country,” Fink said.

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Windy conditions caused handlers to deflate an air-filled blimp of Trump wearing a diaper. The anti-war group Code Pink had brought the 20-foot balloon of “Baby Trump” to the mall. A statue of Trump sitting on a toilet sending a tweet from his phone was also on display.

The National Weather Service warned of possible torrential rain until 8 p.m. that “may lead to totals exceeding 2 inches in a short period of time” and cause flash flooding. Storms could also produce damaging wind gusts and lightning strikes, the weather service said in a separate statement.

“I don’t mind the rain,” said John Ferrell, a 65-year-old retiree from Richmond, Virginia. “I came here to check out the whole thing. I love this country.”

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