WASHINGTON _ When Americans celebrate their Independence Day this weekend, some other folks will be crashing the party.
All along Embassy Row, diplomats from around the world are planning cookouts, fireworks watching and long weekend excursions – just like their hosts.
In fact, the Canadian ambassador will help 200 U.S. government officials, Congress members and foreign dignitaries celebrate from atop the embassy just a stone’s throw from the Capitol on Pennsylvania Avenue.
“Since we’ve been in the building, we’ve had an exclusive event on the top of the embassy,” said Pamela Chappell, media relations officer at the Canadian Embassy. “It’s quite a sought-after invitation.”
The Canadians think of the July 4 weekend as an extension of their July 1 Canada Day holiday, Chappell said. “Of course the July 1 holiday is of a little more importance to us,” she added. “But we still do the same things Americans do – go to the Mall and parks to see the fireworks.”
At Japan’s Embassy, Yumiko Miwa, assistant to the press officer, is eagerly looking forward to her first 4th of July in America. “I think there’s going to be a good fireworks,” said Miwa.. “It’s the nation’s capital, so it should be good.”
French diplomats evidently plan to scatter for the long weekend. Aisha Daro, a native of Senegal and an intern in the French Embassy, said she will be going to the fireworks display with other Washington interns.
Her unofficial poll of the French Embassy revealed most employees are heading to the Mall for the fireworks. Two are using the weekend, like many Washingtonians, to escape the city. And six just arrived in the United States and did not know what to do yet.
Teresa Watson, in the New Zealand embassy’s public affairs office, has plans to party with the hometown folk. “I’m going to an American friend’s home for a barbecue and then going down to the Mall,” she said. “It’s a fun celebration – just the fireworks and the sheer number of people there – it’s quite staggering.”
Do Americans party as well as New Zealanders? “Actually,” Watson said diplomatically, “Americans celebrate very well.”
And what about the British, who, after all, lost some colonies to spark this party?
Some British Embassy staff members might skip the celebration, said David Arkley, third secretary of press and public affairs. Not sour grapes, mind you. Just “work,” said Arkley. And many will revel in the holiday, just like their American cousins. Especially because Britain lacks a comparable shin-dig.
“Our history is such a muddle – going well back into the dim and distant past – that we don’t have a national celebration like Americans,” he said. “I guess we do have the Queen’s birthday celebration, but that is much more traditional.”
This year’s July 4th plans, he added, have been left up in the air. Last year, some watched the fireworks from the embassy cafeteria. It has, said Arkley, “just a wonderful view of the festivities.”