Celebrate your indepence the D.C. way

AU students who haven't been in town for the Fourth of July in the past are in for a treat this summer. The biggest problem they'll run in to is choosing what they want to do from all the options.

From music to fireworks to cookouts, the D.C.-metro area is never more alive than on July 4th. Not everything is on the Mall, and most of it is refreshingly free of charge. Below is a list of some of the most popular activities in the area, as well as some of the more obscure.

Music

"A Capitol Fourth," the annual concert on the West lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building on July 4th from 8-9:30 p.m. This year's concert features Erich Kunzel conducting the National Symphony Orchestra performing patriotic music by conductor John Williams. Actor Barry Bostwick ("Spin City," "Grease," "The Rocky Horror Picture Show") hosts the concert this year.

Guest performers include Dolly Parton, the Chieftains and Broadway and television actress Kristin Chenoweth. The concert concludes with fireworks from the Washington Monument grounds. This is one of the area's most popular destinations for the evening, but it's essential to get there early because security stops letting people onto the lawn once they determine it is full, which happens early in the afternoon if the weather is nice. Free. 202-619-7222.

Air Force Band Independence Day Concert, at Arlington Boulevard and Meade Street, Arlington, July 4th at 7 p.m. The band's country music ensemble Silver Wings plays a holiday concert, plus the site offers a great view of the fireworks on the Mall. Free. 202-767-5658.

Fourth of July Air Force Band Concert, National Air and Space Museum Bookshop, Independence Avenue at Sixth Street NW, July 4th at 6 p.m. The band celebrates the Fourth with their annual concert at the museum. Independence Day Organ Recital, Washington National Cathedral, Wisconsin and Massachusetts Avenues, July 4th, at 11 a.m. Free. Organist Peter Conte will perform patriotic selections. 202-537-6300.

Other Events

Freedom Forum Naturalization Ceremony, Freedom Park, between 1100 and 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, July 4th, 9:30 a.m. It is an off-the-beaten track activity that exemplifies the true spirit of Independence Day. A ceremony open to the public consists of about 50 people from 41 different countries becoming citizens. 703-284-3544.

Independence Day Readings, Falls Church City Hall, 300 Park Ave., Falls Church, July 4th, noon. Readings feature the Virginia Declaration of Rights (a precursor to the Constitution's Bill of Rights), the American Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. All are invited to attend and read a few lines from their favorite document that shaped the creation of the country.

Palisades Fourth of July Parade, Palisades Recreation Center, Dana Street and Sherrier Place NW, July 4th, 11 a.m. This family oriented picnic might be a good choice for those who want to get to see a little more of the Tenley community and meet some of the residents who are AU neighbors. Everything is free from hotdogs to watermelon, but the interaction with the people is the best deal.

National Independence Day Parade, Constitution Avenue between seventh and 17th Streets, July 4th, 11:45 a.m. The parade begins at Constitution Avenue and Seventh Street and travels to 17th Street. More than 60 groups will participate in the parade, including bands, military units and floats. In the event of inclement weather, the parade will be canceled.

At AU

The Student Confederation has organized a Fourth of July barbecue on the Main Quad beginning at 1 p.m. It's free for AU students with an I.D. an $3 for non-students. Starting at 6 p.m., AUTO Van rides to the monuments for the fireworks will be available. For more information call the SC at x6420.

Source: The Washington Post. For a more complete list of activities, consult washingtonpost.com.

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