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Park police ban alcohol from downtown parks in nation’s capital

February 25, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ It’s not exactly that you can’t drink a beer on the national Mall while watching the Fourth of July fireworks, but the National Park Service says don’t dare bring your own.

Starting Saturday, beer can be consumed on national park grounds in the nation’s capital only if it’s purchased from a certified vendor.

Hundreds of thousands of people traditionally celebrate the Fourth on the national Mall, the long strip of park that lies between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol.

To help wash down the packed lunches people brought to last summer’s celebration, three beer trucks were parked on government grounds. Those trucks will no longer be allowed.

``The lines were horrendous for the beer, and then customers go right over and get in line for the bathrooms,″ Arnold Goldstein, superintendent of downtown parks in the District of Columbia told The Washington Post.

``Sometimes they couldn’t wait, and then we ended up with all sorts of problems in the bushes and trees,″ he added.

Goldstein said 5,000 to 10,000 people viewing the fireworks show at the Mall last summer were intoxicated. He said he saw underage kids getting sick from too much booze and witnessed people pelting passersby with beer bottles.

Goldstein conceded the new regulation won’t be easy to enforce but said it gives park police the upper hand when cracking down on drunken and disruptive people.