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Old Firehouse Teen Center Block Party Set for Aug. 24

McLean Teens Got Talent returns for third year, along with games, history exhibit.

Children participate in a pie-eating contest at last year’s Old Firehouse Teen Center Block Party. This year’s event will take place Saturday, Aug. 24.

Children participate in a pie-eating contest at last year’s Old Firehouse Teen Center Block Party. This year’s event will take place Saturday, Aug. 24. Photo by Alex McVeigh.

— The Old Firehouse Teen Center will host its annual Block Party Saturday, Aug. 24, welcoming teens and families to an afternoon of live performances, living history exhibits and other activities all through the center.

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From left, Allynn Walker-Bey and Brandon Showell, members of 4Shore, perform at the Old Firehouse Teen Center Block Party. Showell, a staff member at the teen center, will be a judge for this year’s event.

"There’s going to be activities in every room, things that will appeal to the whole family," said Ashley Smith, manager of the center.

The party will be headlined by the band Another Level, a six-piece group that will play Motown, soul, 70s and R&B classics. The group features a male and female vocalist, and members have toured with Prince, James Brown, Elton John and Patti LaBelle.

The McLean Volunteer Fire Department will host a living history exhibit during the event, chronicling the history of their fire houses in the community.

The department was founded in 1921, and a local barn was their first station. According to department records, they moved into the building that would become the teen center in 1949, and eventually added on a meeting hall and new bunk room in 1965.

The department moved to their current location on Laughlin Avenue in 1988.

The block party has been a tradition since 1990 at the teen center, though it has been revamped several times over the past few years.

In 2011, the McLean Teens Got Talent contest began, giving county residents ages 13 to 18 a chance to get onstage and show a panel of judges what they’re made of.

"The third year of McLean Teens Got Talent, with the acts performing in front of three judges. We’re looking for anything, magicians, comedians, bands, any kind of talent, and we’ve got plenty of spots. If we don’t fill them we’ll open it up to the audience," Smith said. "We did add some crowd engagement acts and some games that will take place between acts."

The contest has a high pedigree. One of the judges is Brandon Showell, who has served as a judge in the past, and also has experience on the stage. He performed with his group 4Shore at the 2011 party, and the group participated in that year’s The X Factor.

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From left, Sarah Schallern, Darrick Speller and Jimmy Reed serve as judges in last year’s McLean Teens Got Talent contest. Schallern will be one of the judges this year.

Sarah Schallern, performing arts director at the Alden Theatre, will serve as another judge.

The following year saw the party moved up from October to August, which staff said they hoped would garner more interest from families.

"Last year worked out well, but the weather was a bit of a problem, we had to move everything inside," Smith said. "This year, everything will be very easy to move inside, should it rain, except for the moon bounce."

The moon bounce will feature two slides, and other activities will include a climbing wall, caricature artists, spin art t-shirt making, carnival games, airbrush tattoos and a dunk tank.

The party will run from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24 at the Old Firehouse Teen Center, 1440 Chain Bridge Road.

The McLean Teens Got Talent show will run from 5 to 8 p.m. and Another Level will take the stage at 8:30 p.m.

The application deadline for McLean Teens Got Talent has been extended, applications are now due by Friday, Aug. 16 at 6 p.m. Anyone age 13 to 18 that is a Fairfax County resident can enter. Applications can be found at www.mcleancenter.org/teens/events.