President Donald Trump wasn’t able to cut a deal for a grandiose Veterans Day military parade, but this year, he says he aims to start a new 4th of July tradition.
The only hitch? The “tradition” he says he wants to start in the nation’s capital already exists.
Trump offered few concrete details Tuesday when he mused to reporters that it could take place in Washington and it could include a parade.
“We’re thinking about doing, on the 4th of July or thereabouts, a parade, a ‘Salute to America’ parade. I guess it’d be really more of a gathering than a parade. Perhaps at the Lincoln Memorial. We’re looking at sites. But we’re thinking about doing something that would, perhaps, become a tradition,” Trump said.
Unlike the hefty price tag the administration rejected for the planned but never executed Veterans Day parade, Trump said this time the fireworks would be free.
“The fireworks (are) there anyway, so we just saved on fireworks. We get free fireworks because it’s already being done. So, that’s very good,” Trump said, referring to the stash launched annually on Independence Day in downtown Washington.
Speaking at a midday Cabinet meeting, the President said acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt would take charge of the event. But despite the holiday being less than six months away, the agency offered few new details.
A spokesperson for the Interior Department told CNN: “Salute to America is a great idea. We are working diligently to present the best options to the White House.”
A White House official said in a statement that “President Trump loves America and wants to help all Americans celebrate our nation’s independence on July 4.”
The official also relayed that the Interior Department is working on options for the celebration and that Trump “looks forward to reviewing those proposals.”
Washington, of course, already hosts major 4th of July parade. Called America’s National Independence Day Parade, it goes through the heart of downtown Washington, consisting “of invited bands, fife and drum corps, floats, military and specialty units, giant balloons, equestrian, drill teams, VIP’s, national dignitaries and celebrity participants,” according to the parade’s website. Other smaller parades take place across Washington’s neighborhoods.
It’s also unclear exactly how the “Salute to America” event would work alongside – or in place of? – Washington’s annually televised Fourth of July concert and fireworks near the Capitol building.
Inspired after attending a Bastille Day parade in France, Trump said last year that a military parade in Washington would be “great for the spirit of the country,” but that it would need to come at a “reasonable cost.”
In response to the President’s request, the Defense Department began planning for what would have been a costly military parade marking the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I.
The Defense Department eventually postponed the parade and a spokesman saying the agency “agreed to explore opportunities in 2019.”
Trump blamed local Washington politicians for the parade’s hefty price tag.
“The local politicians who run Washington, D.C. (poorly) know a windfall when they see it. When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I cancelled it. Never let someone hold you up!” Trump tweeted.
CNN’s Barbara Starr, Ryan Browne and Clare Foran contributed to this report.