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Capitol Fourth 2012: Heat Doesn't Deter Visitors To National Mall

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FIREWORKS DC PHOTOS
The July 4, 2012, fireworks in the nation's capital. | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — One word could describe visitors to the Capitol Fourth Concert Wednesday night: sweaty.

Despite high temperatures and the threat of thunderstorms, thousands of visitors from across the continent took part in Independence Day celebrations in the nation's capital.

Hosting the 32nd annual Capitol Fourth, "Dancing with the Stars'" Tom Bergeron told the audience how he was feeling the heat, exclaiming at one point that he was "sweating standing still."

But few at the event were "standing still."

Megan Hilty kicked off the action with a performance that included back up dancers dressed like a Barbershop quartet. Amber Riley, of "Glee," got audience members to their feet, clapping and dancing to "Proud Mary." Broadway actors Matthew Broderick and Kelli O'Hara performed some subtle moves of their own in a duet. Even Phillip Phillips added some energy to the single that made him an American Idol, "Home."

Other performers included singer-songwriter Javier Colon; country music star Josh Turner; R&B performers Kool & the Gang; singer Russell Watson; the National Symphony Orchestra; Olympic medalist Apolo Anton Ohno with a tribute to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams; and Academy-Award winning conductor John Williams.

Despite the heat, the usual enormous crowds flocked to the Mall and monuments throughout the day. By 7 p.m., the lawn of the Capitol where the concert took place was about two-thirds filled. Men and women lined the steps of the Capitol building and filled the balconies.

The Capitol Fourth Concert started at 8 p.m., ending about an hour and a half later as the fireworks disappeared behind the Washington Monument, set just beyond the show's Jumbotrons.

The National Park Service urged those attending to use public transportation to avoid traffic during the holiday.

Unlike in years past, the Smithsonian Metro Station – the station closest to the Mall – remained open until after the display, when it was limited to incoming passengers.

Park Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Brooks said the high temperature was one of the main concerns this year. The heat index, or how hot it felt, on the National Mall was 100 degrees Wednesday afternoon.

Washington boasted a variety of events during the day including the annual parade and a role-playing of the signing of the Declaration of Independence at the Jefferson Memorial.

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