It was a birthday celebration that lasted the entire weekend. From the smallest parade at Mt. Vernon Estate to the largest George Washington birthday parade in Alexandria, the metro area wished the first president many happy returns.
The celebrations really began last week with symposiums at The Lyceum and events and demonstrations at George Washington’s home, Mt. Vernon. On Saturday and Sunday, the estate held “the smallest parade” featuring horses, oxen, a donkey and Lucy the lamb. That parade lasted about five minutes and featured a visit from the first president himself.
On Saturday night, the first Birth Night ball was held at Gadsby’s Tavern, where George and Martha Washington spent at least some of his birthdays. On Sunday night, the Neighborhood Friends of Mt. Vernon held their own Birth Night ball at the Mt. Vernon Inn. There was a reception first, at the home of the executive director, Jim Rees, followed by a cocktail reception, a fife and drum presentation, a silent auction, dinner and dancing. The president was in attendance.
ON MONDAY afternoon, Alexandria held its annual parade, featuring more than 100 marching units, including military bands, high school bands, fife and drum corps, horses, scout troops, Shriners and much more. This year’s Grand Marshal was T. C. Williams High School Principal John Porter. Porter was scheduled to be the Grand Marshal last year but 16 inches of snow forced the cancellation of that parade. This year, Porter waved cheerfully from his car as the weather was cold, but sunny.
Mt. Vernon estate, which celebrates the life of George Washington every day, has seen visitors continue to decline last year.
“Like much of the area, we haven’t really recovered from Sept. 11,” Rees said. “We were down by five or six percent again this year and that is on top of the 20 to 25 percent we had declined after Sept. 11.”
However, there was some good news for last year. “Despite the decline in visitors, we raised more private funds than ever before,” Rees said. “We were particularly pleased by the auction by George, which raised more than $500,000.”
Their web site is being revamped and Rees is hoping for more visitors this year.
For information about Mt. Vernon, visit the web site at mountvernon.org.