Sporadic rain and cooler-than-usual temperature did not keep Restonians away from Washington Plaza at Lake Anne Village Center on Saturday afternoon. Residents came out to celebrate Reston’s 43rd birthday, also singing "Happy Birthday" to its founder, Robert E. Simon, Jr., who turned 93 on April 10.
"It’s a wonderful feeling to be with so many wonderful friends," said Simon as he addressed the crowd of about 30 Reston residents on Saturday. Many more would join the celebration later in the day.
Founder’s Day is a way of showing how much Reston residents appreciate their community and their founder, according to Chuck Veatch, a long time Reston resident. He said the community is lucky to have a founder, and to be able to say that he is here.
"Coming to Reston is one of the smartest moves my husband and I ever made," said state Sen. Janet Howell (D-32), a Reston resident since 1974. She looked at Simon and said: "We’re all carrying on your ideals, at least we’re trying to."
Howell said Simon’s vision made today’s Reston what it is, a vibrant community that is a home to a diverse population. Fairfax County Supervisor Catherine Hudgins (D-HunterMill) agreed. "We had a dreamer over 40 years ago," said Hudgins. "Too often we forget that we have to remember where the dream starts," she said.
Hudgins said it is important that Restonians ensure the community stays exciting and engaged in the future as it is today. One way of doing so, said Hudgins, is for more community members to speak out at meetings and public hearings about the importance of issues relevant to the future. Some 20 years ago, she said, Howell would have been telling the county board how important affordable child care and affordable housing are to the community. She urged more Reston residents to speak to the board, as Howell had done then. "I want to see more Restonians come out" to the public hearings, said Hudgins.
Founder’s Day celebration included performances by members of the Reston Chorale, who led the community in singing "Happy Birthday" to Simon, and a reception at the Reston Museum. Simon and Kurt Pronske, president of the Reston Community Reinvestment Corporation, led the residents on a walk around the village center at the end of the celebration.