The questions were fast and furious as nearly 100 local Boy and Girl Scouts slated to march in Alexandria's Washington's Birthday Parade met with President George Washington (Alexandria re-creator Don De Haven) during a Feb. 16 reception at the Old Dominion Boat Club.
“This was really interesting,” said 10-year-old Lillie MacBride of Troop 869 at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School. “I learned a lot. It was a very gratifying experience.”
Hosted by the ODBC in conjunction with the George Washington Birthday Celebration Committee, Scouts, troop leaders and parents listened as De Haven detailed the struggles faced by families in the nation's fight for independence.
“Every patriot — men, women and children — played an important role in the birth of our nation,” De Haven said. “Our freedom is owed not just to the men who fought but to the women and children who were home and shouldered the family burdens.”
Scouts posed questions for De Haven ranging from such as why the President wore a wig (he didn't) to his favorite haunts in Alexandria (he preferred taverns) and how he felt about women serving in the military (he is proud that women are judged by their abilities).
“We are honored to host this event,” said ODBC President Richard Banchoff, who noted that 18 presidents have been involved in Scouting, including President Barack Obama. “President Washington set very high standards for himself and so have each of you as young Scouts and future leaders.”
In addition to Obama, Gerald Ford participated in Scouting and is the first president who was also an Eagle Scout.
Refreshments for the event were donated by local businesses including hot chocolate from The Creamery and cupcakes from Occasionally Cake.
“This is fun for me to be here today,” said Occasionally Cake owner Sabrina Campbell. “My family and I live on land that was once part of George Washington's pig farm and my daughters are especially proud to be connected to our first president in that way.”
Following a question and answer period, the local troops posed for pictures with the President, read posters about Alexandria history and expressed their excitement in marching in the parade the following day.
“I hope we can do this again next year,” said Zanajh Jones, 11, of Troop 869. “This was a lot of fun.”