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An Authentic Festival

Clarendon Day returns with some family fun.

Roni Freeman of the Clarendon Alliance sees her neighborhood as "an authentic urban village," and one that's been accessible for the better part of a century.

"It's been a major shopping district, on train and trolley lines, since 1896. It's accessible in terms of proximity to the District and the close-in suburbs; it's accessible in terms of being on the Metro and bus lines, of being totally bike-able, with both on-street bike lanes and the bike paths to Vienna and Bethesda. It's all about walking everywhere, and it's completely welcoming in terms of all the independent restaurants and the shopping," said Freeman.

Clarendon Day is symbolic of that access. The annual event brings together some of the best food, art and culture in the community — placing them in an eight-block street festival that's accessible by foot, by automobile and by mass transit.

Scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 29 from noon to 7 p.m., Clarendon Day will offer some popular returning and new activities for families. For example, there are the Seaworthy Small Ships, which provide an opportunity for children to build their own simple wooden sea-faring vessels and sail them on a pond. There is also a jungle climb — 26-foot "palm trees" for climbing — two giant moon bounces and face painting.

For the more adventurous, there will be a new bungee-jump at the festival. It's a four-person bungee trampoline in which each participant is secured by a three-point harness. "They get a 'super boost' into the air so that they can perform aerial maneuvers without the risks of bungee jumping," said Freeman.

After exerting that much energy, refueling with some food is essential. Clarendon Day offers close to 20 local eateries offering up tastes at the festival, including new arrivals such as like King Street Blues, Liberty Tavern and India Curry House.

THE FESTIVAL IS famous for its solid music lineup, and this year is no exception. There are 25 bands playing Clarendon Day on four different stages, with music provided by RadioClarendon.com

"There are always local and emerging bands at Clarendon Day," said Freeman. "It's considered to be a launching pad for future fame."

Local favorites like these united states (3 p.m., main stage) The Reflex (5 p.m., main stage) and The Timothy Bracken Complex (6 p.m., main stage) will fill the air with music.

Sona Virdi, who helped assemble the music acts, said every band is new to the event, yet popular and well established.

"We scoured clubs, MySpace, and studios in the tri-state area at all hours of the day and night to find a great mix of bands," said Virdi. "We decided to not repeat bands this year and connect with the ever-growing nightclub scene at Clarendon."

With Clarendon Day held just under 48 hours until the calendar flips to October, that air could have a little chill. But Freeman said the late September date is a great time for a party.

"The weather's pretty gorgeous and families are getting settled into the school routine, but still harboring fond memories of the carefree days of summer, so a good party seems in order," she said.

"I mean, Clarendon feels pretty celebratory all of the time, with its great street life. But we don't usually have moon bounces."