Mount Vernon Estate's tribute to the 275th birthday of America's first President covers three days and features a visit by President George W. Bush on Feb. 19 to participate in the 10 a.m. annual wreath laying ceremony followed by an address on the Bowling Green.
This year marks the first Washington Birthday celebration since the official opening of the Estate's new $110 million Orientation and Museum/Education centers. Both will be open to visitors beginning at 8 a.m. Feb. 19, one hour earlier than normal. Entrance to all facilities is free on Monday, the national holiday.
However, the Mansion will remain closed until 11 a.m. that day due to President Bush's visit, according to Emily Dibella, assistant director of marketing, Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens.
Festivities on Saturday, Feb. 17, and Sunday, Feb. 18, commence at 9 a.m. when visitors are invited to join "George Washington" for breakfast as he enjoys his favorite morning meal of "hotcakes swimming in butter and honey," cooked over an open fire. Guests can also pull up a hay bale and chat with the Father of Our Country about politics, farming, the Revolutionary War, and life in the 18th Century.
At 1:30 p.m. on both days "America's Smallest Hometown Parade," complete with fife and drum corps, early-American music and heritage breed animals march past "General Washington," the Mansion and around the circle drive for all to see. This is repeated a third time on the holiday, Feb. 19, at 1:30 p.m.
The evening of Feb. 18, commencing at 6 p.m., the 60th Annual George Washington Birthnight Supper and Ball will be held in the Mansion. Hosted by the Neighborhood Friends, this event raises funds for the reconstruction of Mount Vernon's Blacksmith Shop at Mount Vernon. However, this popular event was sold out as of this past Tuesday morning.
With President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush replacing representatives of the Military District of Washington in laying the wreath at Washington's Tomb, Mount Vernon Estate officials have not decided if the public will be permitted to observe this particular ceremony due to security precautions. "We are waiting to hear from the Secret Service about any restrictions," Dibella said.
"Following the wreath laying ceremony, from 10:15-10:40 a.m. guests will be able to enjoy performances of a Revolutionary War battle demonstration by the United States Third Infantry, the Old Guard Fife & Drum, and the Commander-in-Chief Guard on the Bowling Green prior to President Bush's speech. And, of course, General Washington will be on the grounds to greet visitors and receive their birthday wishes throughout the day," she explained.
"The President's speech is scheduled to begin about 10:40 a.m. and conclude by 11 a.m. when we expect to open the Mansion. We are encouraging people to get here early if they intend to hear the President's speech to make sure they get through security in time," Dibella said.
Admission on Feb. 19, the national holiday, is free. However, Annual Passes to the Estate will be on sale that day for the price of a single day admission -- Adults $13; Youth (6-11) $9. Regular one day admission will apply on February 17 and 18 -- Adults $13; Seniors $12; children age 6-11 accompanied by an adult $6; and children under age 5 free.