Here I was, with a full blown diatribe set on the folly of the Smithsonian holding their annual Folklife Festival in conjunction with the Fourth of July weekend. Good thing I took a second look at it. Because this year the temperature may end up being unseasonably mild. Of course, you might be taking an ark to get there, but Washington, DC's never ending rain may give us a a bit of a break from the usual summer heat. Close thing there; I almost ended up like Steve Martin in LA Story when he screws up as a weatherman by prerecording the weekend's weather.
But, while my rant may be foiled this year, I'm not wrong. DC in the summer is unbearably hot. I know, I know, historical purists get mad at me if I say DC was built on a paved over swamp. It really wasn't. Except for that small part called the Mall. Residents long ago learned not to spend time downtown if they don't have to. Congress pretty much shuts its doors for August. Abraham Lincoln sensibly decamped to the high ground of the Soldier's Home for his summers. The whole reason the neighborhood around the zoo is named Cleveland Park is because that's where Grover Cleveland hung out. Even foreign governments got into the act. Notice the total lack of Embassies near the seat of power. Pierre L'Enfant may have envisioned the Mall being lined with foreign delegations, but a new nation could not afford to risk a war to force Europeans to build their Embassies there. Because I'm pretty sure that's what it would take. I mean, thanks to our Canadian friends for throwing us a bone and moving there in the 1980s, but what were you thinking?
So why, Smithsonian, why? Why must you hold your Folklife Festival every year in a sweltering DC summer? Was January in Buffalo already taken? It can't be because you're afraid no one will come. The Festival is a great event, that people will happily come to any time of year. Witness the Cherry Blossom Festival. It's mobbed, and they just throw a few tents up and let people come look at pink flowers. Can't you guys do it in the fall, when it's nice out? You don't need the Fourth of July as anchor. Develop some confidence! You can stand on your own. And it's not like DC needs to attract more visitors around the Fourth anyway.
It's a bummer, because the Folklife Festival really is worth it. Generally, I abhor crowds. I skipped out on possibly the most historic Inauguration of my lifetime this year. I last about ten minutes at the Cherry Blossoms before I contemplate a cooling dive into the stagnant waters of the Tidal Basin. I haven't made it down to a Fourth of July since I was in college, and that probably had something to do with the keg we smuggled to the base of the Washington Monument. But every year I brave the heat, the crowds, and the Smithsonian's increasingly weak lineup. And every year, despite my whining, it's worth it.