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Mount Vernon Rings With Madeira Toasts

Estate’s Birthnight ball celebrates Washington.

Everybody gets a birthday party. But there is only one first president of the United States - there can never be another - and he deserves as many birthday parties as people are willing to have.

On Sunday night, George Washington got his third locally, as the Neighborhood Friends of Mount Vernon held their annual Birthnight supper and ball. Everyone who attended declared it a marvelous success.

General Washington was unable to attend the affair, rescheduled because of the snow. In his stead, however, he sent his wife, Martha. “My husband does love a birthday party, so is sorely disappointed not to be here,” she said. “He, however, sends his regards to his dear friends and neighbors and we both long for the day when we can return to our beloved home at Mount Vernon and live quietly among you once again.”

NEARLY 200 people joined the First Lady in an evening of toasts and food and dancing. The American Original Fife and Drum Corps entertained the assembly before dinner.

“They were here last year and I just knew that we had to have them back,” said Peg Dunnigan, the co-chair of the event. “They are truly marvelous.”

The group, led by Georgia Graves, is comprised of children, their parents and their grandparents. One of Sunday night's soloists was featured in the movie, “Gods and Generals.”

“We began in 1991 and perform a range of music from traditional American music to jazz,” said Graves.

The silent auction drew a great deal of attention and organizers hope a great deal of money. A lynx coat, valued at $7,500, drew a great deal of attention as models mingled with the crowd, proudly displaying it.

AFTER DINNER, celebrants joined Mrs. Washington in a Madeira toast. “Madeira is a type of wine that is made from Madeira grapes and was General Washington's favorite drink,” said Matthew Heiss, the director of catering at the Mt. Vernon Inn. “Madeira is very sweet and General Washington really liked sweet things so that probably explains why he liked it.”

The huzzahs lingered into the night as the gathering danced and ate birthday cake provided by Holland Hall Pastry Shop. The money raised from the silent auction and the raffles will be used to renovate the spinning house at Mount Vernon, and repair the seawall around the estate.