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Trump’s rebranding of DC’s July 4th celebrations will include a VIP area

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President Donald Trump is remaking Washington, DC’s Independence Day celebrations into a political event that, according to new reports, will feature a cordoned-off area for dignitaries, family, and friends only accessible to those with White House-distributed tickets.

The administration-approved attendees will occupy the area from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to midway along the reflecting pool, The Washington Post reported Friday. The area is directly in front of where Trump plans to deliver a speech kicking off the events, which he’s rebranded as “A Salute to America.”

Much about Trump’s July 4th events are unprecedented, including flyovers by Air Force One, the Blue Angels, and other military aircraft. A US president has never before attended DC’s annual Independence Day celebrations, in part because of security concerns.

Read more: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says Republicans have ‘stopped interrupting me’ after she ‘let them have it’ during committee hearings

The 35-minute fireworks display will be twice as long as any previous 4th of July show, the Post reported.

Fox News reported last week that the celebration at the Lincoln Memorial will force event organizers to move the fireworks launching site from the National Mall to the Tidal Basin and West Potomac Park. As a result, views of the display will be obscured from the Capitol building by 30% to 40%.

Mike Litterst, spokesman for the National Park Service’s Washington sites, said the fireworks display will be the biggest D.C. has ever seen.

Trump has openly spoken about his desire to hold a major patriotic celebration in the US after he attended France’s Bastille Day military parade in July 2017.

“It was one of the greatest parades I’ve ever seen,” Trump told reporters at the United Nations General Assembly, months after witnessing it. Trump reportedly told French president Emmanuel Macron, “We’re going to have to try to top it.”

Democrats and others have expressed concerns about the significant additional costs of the events, the new transportation disruptions, which will include suspending traffic into and out of Reagan National Airport for more than an hour, and the politicization of what has traditionally been a non-partisan celebration. And the president has not yet paid back the city of DC for over $7 million in inauguration costs.

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, DC’s non-voting representative, and Maryland Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat from Maryland, wrote to the Senate and House appropriations committees earlier this month, noting that DC’s Emergency Planning and Security Fund (ESPF) will run out of money in July, and that the current budget did not account for the planned July 4th events.

Washington’s Democratic mayor, Muriel Bowser, said she hopes Trump “recognizes that the event is a unifying event that celebrates the birthday of our nation.”

Benjamin Goggin and Ellen Cranley contributed to this report.

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