Capitol Hill July 4th Parade Brings Community Together Again

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The finale of the Capitol Hill July 4th Parade was a performance by the Potomac Gardens Drum Corp. E. O'Gorek/CCN

With sunny skies and temperatures in the mid- to high 70s, an especially large crowd of thousands gathered —together again– lining Barracks Row to watch the Capitol Hill July 4th Parade.

It was the first large, public community event for most in the crowd, and the first along Barracks Row in 18 months. The number of people in attendance perhaps spoke to the unusually moderate weather, or the pent-up desire of the community to gather as a village again.

The parade, organized annually by Jeanne, Phil, Meg Real Estate in partnership with Naval Lodge #4 and CHAMPS DC began at Eighth and I Streets SE marching along Barracks Row to conclude at Eastern Market Metro Plaza. Last year’s parade went virtual to keep the tradition alive; this year, there seemed to be even more people, cheering and tossed candy, as though the parade itself had energy saved over the past year-and-a-half that needed to be released.

The US Marine Band continued a long-standing traditon, leading off the parade at 10 a.m. in their brilliant red uniforms, followed by Naval Lodge representatives in a truck bearing a huge inflated eagle, with members distributing American Flags and candy.

Representatives of community organizations marched including the Capitol Hill Restoration Society (CHRS), Capitol Hill Village (CHV), Ward 6 Dems, DC Republican Party, Sports on the Hill (SOTH), Friends of Kingman & Heritage Islands, Capitol Hill Scout Pack 230 and Girl Scout Servce Unit 40-1 and John ‘Peterbug’ Matthews (tossing candy as he walked before his ‘Peterbus’), with the Virginia Avenue Dog Park marching behind him.

From the end of the Row, representatives from the Capital Turnaround (770 M St. SE) tossed candy from a float designed to look like a streetcar. The new building, future site of a market and childcare center and currently a venue and home to the National Community Church (NCC) was once a central maintenance site for the District’s streetcar system.

A score of schools were also represented, including Capitol Hill Day School (CHDS), the Capitol Hill Cluster Schools, Maury ES, and contingents of Tyler Tigers, Payne Wildcats, Maury Cougars and Brent Bears.

Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) moved through the crowd, stopping to speak with constituents. At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I) sported patriotic glasses as she distributed candy and flags to the crowd, her enjoyment of the morning evident on her face.

The largest contingent of the parade accompanied Mayor Muriel Bowser (D). Dressed in green, the crowd around the Mayor tossed green balls, candy and beads into the crowd.

Smiling and holding hands with a little girl in green, Bowser was accompanied by many key members of the District adminsitration:  Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Robert Contee III, DC Fire (FEMS) Chief John A. Donnelly, Sr.; Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) John Falcicchio and Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Christopher Geldart, to name a few.

The Capitol Hill BID’s Men in Blue were, as usual, the most popular participants with the children, who ran up to the men as they pushed their large blue bins filled with candy and beads.

But the show was stolen by the Potomac Gardens Drum Corp, both the finale to the parade and the opening act at the Eastern Market Metro Park (EMMP) community ribbon-cutting, which took place at the conclusion of the parade.

Pausing periodically to demonstrate their crisp mastery, the Drum Major displayed astonishing dexterity, tossing his mace to punctuate the tightly-timed numbers.

With a final catch and a thunderous wave of applause, the Drum Major led the crowd from the edges of Barracks Row to the plaza, to celebrate the new space and a new normal –where the little village of Capitol Hill can again mark the community’s significant moments, together.