Trump defends cost of having tanks and military planes at his July 4 celebration

On the eve of his planned July 4 celebration in Washington, D.C., President Trump pushed back against criticism over the amount of money it is costing American taxpayers.

According to the Washington Post, the National Park Service is “diverting nearly $2.5 million in entrance and recreation fees primarily intended to improve parks across the country to cover costs.” The White House has refused to disclose the actual cost of the event.

“The cost of our great Salute to America tomorrow will be very little compared to what it is worth,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. “We own the planes, we have the pilots, the airport is right next door (Andrews), all we need is the fuel. We own the tanks and all. Fireworks are donated by two of the greats. Nice!”

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Scenes from Inauguration Day in Washington, D.C.
guests fill hte West Front of the US Caaptol in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2017, before the swearing-in ceremony of US President-elect Donald Trump. / AFP / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, left, wipes the shoulder of U.S. President Barack Obama while standing outside of the White House ahead of the 58th presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. Trump is the first president since the dawn of national polling in the late 1930s to enter office with the approval of fewer than half of Americans -- in his case only 40 percent. Photographer: TKTK/Pool via Bloomberg
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: (L-R) Tiffany Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump, Vanessa Trump and Jared Kushner arrive on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: The presidential motorcade drives down Pennsylvania Ave towards the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton arrives on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush wave as they arrive on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Former President Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn Carter arrive on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
US Chief Justice John Roberts (C-front) arrives with US justice William Rehnquist (L) on the platform of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2017, before the swearing-in ceremony of US President-elect Donald Trump. / AFP / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Former U.S. Preident George W. Bush and former first landy Laura Bush arrive at the swearing in ceremony at the United States Capitol January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Donald J. Trump will become the 45th President of the United States today. (Photo by Doug Mills - Pool/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden arrive for the Presidential Inauguration of Donald Trump at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2017. / AFP / POOL / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: President Elect Donald Trump arrives on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: President Elect Donald Trump arrives on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
US President elect Donald Trump (R) and Vice President elect Mike Pence seat during the swearing-in ceremony on in front of the Capitol in Washington on January 20, 2017. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence takes the oath of office from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as his wife Karen Pence looks on, on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: President Elect Donald Trump shakes hands with Vice President Mike Pence on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US President elect Donald Trump (C) salutes his daughter Ivanka and other family members during the swearing-in ceremony on in front of the Capitol in Washington on January 20, 2017. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
US President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in as President on January 20, 2017 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. / AFP / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: U.S. President Donald Trump delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Attendees listen as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the 58th presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States today, in a celebration of American unity for a country that is anything but unified. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Attendees stand during the 58th presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States today, in a celebration of American unity for a country that is anything but unified. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump(L) wait with former President Barack Obama(2nd-R) and Michelle obama before their departure from the US Capitol after Trump's inauguration ceremonies at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2017. / AFP / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
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On Tuesday, the president announced that Phantom Fireworks and Fireworks by Grucci were donating their services for the “biggest fireworks show Washington D.C. has ever seen.”

“Our July 4th Salute to America at the Lincoln Memorial is looking to be really big,” Trump added in a tweet Wednesday. “It will be the show of a lifetime!”

Trump’s insistence on putting on such a show — replete with tanks, military bands, fireworks and flyovers — has drawn sharp criticism from Democrats, city officials and reportedly some U.S. military chiefs.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser told NPR that she has “some concerns about a president not celebrating the military but glorifying military might.”

“That scares me the most.”

[Related: Trump’s July 4 celebration: Patriotic or self-promoting?]

The White House is distributing VIP tickets to Republican donors and political appointees for the event, prompting objections from Democratic lawmakers who say that the Trump campaign should foot the bill.

The Trump administration also distributed 5,000 tickets to the Department of Defense.

“This is beyond the pale,” tweeted Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., who sits on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies. “The American people pay these entrance fees to make improvements at our national parks — not to boost President Trump’s campaign. The National Mall is not the place to hold a de facto political rally.”

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Coolest destinations for July 4th
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Coolest destinations for July 4th

Bristol, Rhode Island

The town of Bristol may only have a population of under 23,000, but it's known country-wide for its Fourth of July celebrations and has earned the impressive title of "America's most patriotic town."

In fact, the New England charmer is home to the oldest Foruth of July parade in the United States. Founded in 1785 by Rev. Henry Wight, who was also a veteran of the Revolutionary War, the celebration has gone on to attract over 200,000 people for its annual "The Military, Civic and Firemen’s Parade."

Addison, Texas

The Dallas suburb regularly makes it onto the list of the most spectacular firework shows in the United States. The show, aptly named "Kaboom Town," is held on July 3rd and can be seen anywhere from the 13,000-resident town.

All of the town's 23 hotels sell out in anticipation of the event, which features 3500 pounds of fireworks and a $300K price tag.

San Diego, California

With an eye-popping attendance of 500,000 people, the San Diego spectacular ranks as Southern California's largest fireworks show.

Titled "Big Bay Boom," it expands from Point Loma to Shelter Island to the Coronado Ferry Landing and will bring together visitors and residents for an 18-minute choreographed show filled with pyrotechnics and the most "technically advanced" displays. 

Coney Island, New York

Nothing says 'Merica like a hot dog eating contest, specifically one most historic to the East Coast food scene. For 102 years, Nathan's has been putting on its iconic International Hot Dog Eating Contest, which sees contestants compete for prize money by stuffing their faces with over 70 hotdogs. 

Fireworks are included, but the hot dog contest is the main attraction of this Brooklyn staple.

Lead, South Dakota 

You probably don't get more off-the-beaten-path than South Dakota, but the midwestern state is home to a very unique and historic Fourth of July Celebration.

Every year, residents of the small town gather for patriotic celebrations above the Homestake Mine, which used to be the largest and deepest gold mine in North America until it closed in 2002. The mine produced more than 1.25 million kilograms of gold and though closed, continues to remain a historic site for South Dakotans. 

Nashville, Tennessee

There's a reason the southern gem's July 4th celebrations have been included by leading travel publications. The event comes at no cost to spectators, but features an impressive lineup of country music stars, like Brett Eldredge and Mac McAnally, for their "Let Freedom Sing" concert. The evening then culminates in a spectacular and ear-popping fireworks show with over 1000 fireworks and 200,000 attendees. 

Charleston, South Carolina 

Guests have the ability to celebrate the Fourth of July in one of the most historic cities in America. Furthermore, spectators can spend the holiday aboard one of the most significant warships in American history, the USS Yorktown. The carrier was built in 1941 and was the tenth to serve in the United States Navy. It now remains the "centerpiece" of the city's beloved Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum. 

Lake Tahoe, California

The "Lights on the Lake" celebrations in Lake Tahoe make for some of the country's most scenic and entrancing patriotic displays during the holiday. Bringing together over 125,000 visitors for a 25-minute display, the show will feature both patriotic bursts and fireworks in the form of smiley faces and butterflies. 

Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota 

Over 200,000 people take over the shores of Lake Minnetonka for one of the area's most exciting events of the year. The annual patriotic evening, which was established in 1853, kicks off with its signature Firecracker Run followed by a spectacular fireworks display worth over $100K. For the first time, guests can experience the show from the top of the Ferris Wheel, which will provide the ultimate view of the festivities. 

Boston, Massachusetts 

The biggest Fourth of July festival takes place in one of the oldest and most historic cities in America. Boston's celebrations have brought in 14 million people in the past 40 years for its annual celebrations for a 5-day celebration full of Revolutionary War reenactments, speeches, and cruises around Boston Harbor. Of course, the festivities end with fireworks and churchbell rings. 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

What better way to celebrate America's independence in the City of Brotherly love, home to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? The annual Wawa Welcome America concert takes over the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (yes, everything is revolutionary-tied) with a spectacular performance by Jennifer Hudson and Meghan Trainor. Two light shows take place over the Deleware River, as do three fireworks displays, and 50 activities over the 6-day event. 

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Meanwhile, the Pentagon is reportedly grappling with how to move a pair of 70-ton M1A2 Abrams tanks to the National Mall.

“Part of the concern is that the vehicles will pulverize pavement in Washington, as they did during a parade in June 1991 after the Gulf War, and that the city will be left with the bill,” the Post reported.

According to the newspaper, the tanks will be stationary and moved into place on flatbeds pulled by heavy-hauler trucks.

CNN reported Wednesday that military chiefs raised concerns about the politicization of Trump’s event during its planning, expressing reservations about having tanks or other armored vehicles on display.

The president, who attended the Bastille Day parade in France in 2017, has long hoped to replicate a similar display in the United States. Last year, Trump’s efforts to stage a Veterans Day military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue were scrapped over cost concerns.

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