Fireworks go on as planned despite stifling temperatures

One word could describe visitors to the Capitol Fourth Concert Wednesday night: sweaty.

Despite high temperatures and the threat of thunderstorms, thousands of visitors from across the continent took part in Independence Day celebrations in the nation's capital.

The Carter family from El Paso, Texas, set up lawn chairs facing the Washington Monument at 8:30 a.m. By 1 p.m., they still were stretched out in the shade of a tall tree, armed with umbrellas and water for the anticipated grueling sun that would steal their shade in the midafternoon.

At 4 p.m. a youth group from a church in New Brunswick, Canada, sang and played guitar in Franklin Square with a sign on their guitar case reading, "Need a dollar, take a dollar." They planned to go to the fireworks on the National Mall as a break from a week of service work visiting Washington's elderly and homeless.

The National Park Service urged attendees to use public transportation to avoid traffic during the holiday.

Unlike in years past, the Smithsonian Metro Station - the station closest to the Mall - remained open.

At 12:30 p.m. there already was a steady flow of visitors coming at Smithsonian, chugging water from plastic bottles. Three uniformed officers stood watching the crowd.

"Have your fare cards ready with the arrow pointing up," one man yelled.

The Banks brought their grandchildren who visited from Texas this week. But, it wasn't the best week to come.

"We lost power Friday night about 10:30," Sheila Banks said. "They wanted to watch their cartoons, and they missed the air conditioning."

But, tonight they're power is back, and they're thrilled to be at the National Mall..

Karen Foltyn of Ohio added, "It's a little warm, little sweaty, little hot, but we're still having a good time."

For many in the D.C. area, this is a can't miss tradition. Lisa Alvarez has brought daughter Claire since she was in a stroller.

"...especially right here by the mall, they're like shooting stars. They just fall down on you, and it's just gorgeous," Alvarez explained.

And as usual, this year, the fireworks didn't disappoint.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.