Everyone deserves a vacation, which is why we’ll be taking Friday off to observe the Fourth of July.
To those leaving the city and those staying within the District, we wish you a happy and safe holiday weekend. To tide you over until our triumphant return on Monday, here’s a rundown of some of the things you should keep in mind this weekend :
- City Services: D.C. government will be closed Friday. Trash collection will follow normal schedules, and the DMV will be closed.
- Community Softball Game: The Armed Forces Retirement Home is hosting a day of festivities, including food and drinks, music and, of course, softball. Click on the link for more details.
- 14th and U Farmers Market: The market will be open for business on the Fourth. Corn, peaches, heirloom tomatoes, berries, cherries and pies from Whisked will be on sale among the usual fresh fare.
- F.R.E.S.H. Block Party: The F.R.E.S.H. series of block parties comes to Bruce Monroe Park, located on the corner of Irving Street and Georgia Avenue NW. The event will last from 12 to 4 p.m.
- Metro: Trains will run a weekend schedule on Friday and trains will ramp up to near rush-hour service starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday until the mall fireworks cease exploding. Off-peak fares will be in effect until midnight, and standard service will resume Sunday.
- National Mall Fireworks: It’s here every year. Coolers and bags will be searched upon entry. No alcohol or grills allowed.
- Pearl Dive Picnic Bucket: The Logan Circle restaurant is offering chicken buckets to take to your Fourth of July celebrations. $35 gets you 6 Pieces of Chicken, german potato salad, spicy coleslaw, jalapeno corn muffins and blueberry streusel pies. Order and pick up by 4 p.m. on Saturday.
- Road Closures: There are no major road closures in the Borderstan area. Closures in the Capitol Hill area, however, may affect traffic in surrounding places. Roads will close in two phases, one that starts at 6 a.m. and another that starts at 11:15 a.m., and will reopen at 11 p.m. Be sure to check the full list of closures.
- Where to Buy Fireworks: Check the map linked for all locations. Be sure to read up on which fireworks are legal in D.C. before you buy.
“FIREWORKS TNT FIREWORKS,” reads the sign above Mi Casita Bakery, a Mexican and Salvadoran cafe on 14th Street NW in Columbia Heights.
Inside, the eatery is busy and hot.
“No, we don’t sell fireworks here,” sighs the man behind the counter. “We do not sell fireworks.”
The man sighs again, as if to say he gets that question a lot.
“But Mattie does,” the man says, pointing to the wall behind him. “She’s out back.”
Mattie McLain’s head barely emerges from behind the counter of her plywood fireworks stand. On first glance, the hut looks uninhabited.
Although hidden, McLain is there. Sun or storm, the 78-year-old has manned the firework shack each summer for more than 20 years.
Every afternoon, a small crowd of children gathers in front of the stand. With a smile, McLain doles out pop-its, sparklers and party poppers for a dollar apiece.
Earlier this week, the stand was discovered — and subsequently written about — by PoPville.
“Seems legit,” wrote one commenter sarcastically.
“The [person] who runs the fireworks stand has had [their] stand on that corner for 30+ years,” writes another. “The nice folks at [Mi] Casita don’t have to let [them] continue the tradition, but they do.”
But McLain doesn’t just own the fireworks stand. She also owns the building that houses Mi Casita.
“I’ve owned the building 40 years,” she says.
McLain used to run a grocery store and deli out of the space, but she closed the deli 10 years ago.
“I just got too old,” McLain says. “Now, I sell fireworks. It keeps me busy.”
Over the years, McLain has gotten to know her neighbors well.
“The neighborhood has changed a lot,” says McLain. “But a lot of the same people are still here. I know them.”
“Each year around this time, they look for me,” McLain says with a laugh. “Everybody says, ‘Where’s Mattie?'”
McLain often says she doesn’t know how much longer she’ll sell fireworks. But she’ll run the stand as long as she can.
“I’m old,” McLain says. “Too old. I fell this morning.”
“But I can get up,” she adds.