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Final preparations underway for Trump’s ‘Salute to America’

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July 4 (UPI) — U.S. government personnel, including the military, are putting the final touches on President Donald Trump‘s Independence Day plans for “Salute to America.”

The event, which will include flyovers, tanks and other armored vehicles on display and musical performances, is scheduled for 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Trump said he will speak from a stage set up at the Lincoln Memorial. Fox News is the only network planning to televise festivities in their entirety.

The event is free but VIPs, including Republican donors, will get some special seating close up, according to CNN. Gates open at 3 p.m.

Personnel were making final preparations Thursday. An Army soldier was seen cleaning a Bradley Fighting Vehicle at the Lincoln Memorial. Other personnel were positioning an M1 Abrams main battle tank into position. And others were working on the stage/

M1 Abrams tanks arrived in the nation’s capital Tuesday.

Traditionally fireworks have been set off from the memorial’s reflection pool at the conclusion of the Capitol Fourth entertainment show televised by PBS. Instead of being shot off from the other side of the National Mall, the display instead will be run from Potomac Park at 9:07 p.m. and is scheduled to end at 9:42 p.m. — 15 minutes longer than the traditional 20-minute ones.

“Salute to America” is unrelated to the “Capitol Fourth.”

“People are coming from far and wide to join us today and tonight for what is turning out to be one of the biggest celebrations in the history of our Country, SALUTE TO AMERICA, an all day event at the Lincoln Memorial, culminating with large scale flyovers of the most modern and advanced aircraft anywhere in the World,” Trump posted on Twitter. Perhaps even Air Force One will do a low & loud sprint over the crowd. That will start at 6:00P.M., but be there early. Then, at 9:00 P.M., a great (to put it mildly) fireworks display. I will speak on behalf of our great Country!”

A parade will take place from 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. from Seventh to 17th Constitution Avenue.

Trump had hoped for tanks to join the parade route but District of Columbia and military officials feared the heavy armored vehicles — the Abrams tanks weigh 60 tons each — would destroy the roads.

Even Trump acknowledged the problem, telling reporters Monday: “You’ve got to be pretty careful with the tanks because the roads have a tendency not to like to carry heavy tanks.”

As part of “Salute to America,” the Navy’s elite airshow squadron, the Blue Angels — which canceled a planned rest to participate — will perform demonstration. CBS reported other flyovers planned are two each Navy Super Hornet F-18s and F-35Cs, four Army Apache helicopters, An Air Force
B-2 bomber and two F-22 fighters; and Coast Guard H-60 and H-65 helicopters plus an HC-134 aircraft

The entertainment will include the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, the U.S. Army Band, the Armed Forces Chorus, the United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Team, according to the New York Post.

About 750-800 military personnel will participate in the event.

Because of the aircraft flyovers and fireworks from West Potomac Park, airspace over Washington, D.C., will be closed with nearly 100 scheduled flights affected, according to a CNN review of flight records.

The National Park Service granted a permit for a protest less along the Mall that will include a large inflatable balloon in the likeness of Trump as a baby. Anti-Trump veterans plans to hand out T-shirts for the USS John McCain to troll Trump, who has criticized the deceased U.S. senator and captured Naval pilot during World War II.

Costs have not been disclosed but the The Washington Post reported the National Park Service will redirect at least $2.5 million from parks fees earmarked to improve parks around the country to help cover new costs as a result of the event.

Trump tweeted the cost would be “very little compared to what it’s worth.”

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