A ‘Big Weekend’ Celebrating Washington’s Birthday

A ‘Big Weekend’ Celebrating Washington’s Birthday

This is the third in a series of articles about the George Washington Birthday Celebration. For more information, please visit www.washingtonbirthday.com.

By now you should be feeling “in the groove” as Alexandria celebrates Washington’s Birthday with an increasing number of activities. The Winter Warmer Ladies Tea was held at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum on Feb. 5, the first “Walking with Washington” tour was given last weekend (with three more to come, every Sunday in February), and the Cherry Challenge continues through Feb. 11 with 43 of the finest Alexandria restaurants presenting cherry-themed drinks, starters, entrees and desserts. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (direct links are on our website) to see pictures of many of the offerings and the commentary of many enthusiastic patrons.

We are turning our attention toward the “big weekend” of Saturday, Sunday, and Monday; Feb. 18, 19, and 20. Starting with the Birthnight Banquet and Ball (which is sold out) through the end of the George Washington Birthday Parade, there are five major events held in 46 hours. Most of these are free and accessible to everyone. So let me tell you about these events:

Let’s jump to the Revolutionary War Reenactment at Fort Ward Park on Sunday, Feb. 19 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. It’s a day-long emersion in the Revolutionary War, from the soldier’s perspective. Reenactors from up and down the Atlantic Coast come with authentic weapons, battle gear, and uniforms to show you what it was like to be a fighter in the 18th-century. You will experience how they lived, what they ate, and how they prepared for battle. Visitors can interact with the knowledgeable reenactors, ask questions, and see things up close. Then at 2 p.m. there will be a narrated skirmish between British and American troops and visitors can observe the strategies and tactics of war at that time, very different from today.

Monday is a big day and starts off at 9 a.m. with the Friendship Breakfast, hosted at the Alexandrian Hotel by the Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association (which was founded in 1774). This annual tradition features “George Washington’s” first appearance of the day, an address by retired Four-Star General John H. Tilelli, the awarding of the prestigious Ben Lynt Award for public service, a hearty breakfast, and good fellowship. Tickets: $35.

At 11 a.m. is a wreath-laying ceremony at the tomb of the unknown soldier of the American Revolution in the cemetery of the Old Presbyterian Meeting House. Join the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution as they host colonial military and civilians to honor the soldiers of the Revolution. Free.

At noon is the Armed Forces Community Covenant Ceremony at the Parade Reviewing Stand at Market Square. Come honor our nation’s veterans, listen to brief remarks by senior military officials and civilians, pledge support for the active military and their families, hear music by the Quantico Marine Band, and visit informational booths, and displays. Free.

At 1 p.m. the nation’s largest George Washington Birthday Parade marches a one-mile route through the streets of Old Town Alexandria. With nearly 3,500 participants, this community parade honors Alexandria’s favorite son. The Grand Marshal is retired Police Chief Earl Cook. Special guest is Olympic silver medal winner, boxer Shakur Stevenson. It’s not too late to join us as a marching unit and we still need parade marshals and drivers for dignitaries. For information about participating units, parking, maps, route, status and to volunteer, go to www.washingtonbirthday.com.