Local Activities | February 11, 2016
There are many events celebrating Presidents Day in the Washington, D.C. area. From parades in Alexandria to birthday celebrations in Mount Vernon, we’ve highlighted the best ways to celebrate the holiday below.
The city of Alexandria, Virginia has hosted a Presidents Day parade since 1923. The event features marching bands, floats, wagons, horses, historical reenactments, youth groups along with special performances, and is held on Monday, February 16th from 1 pm to 3 pm. This historic city played a pivotal role throughout the Colonial, Revolutionary and Civil War periods, and has many great historic buildings still standing. The parade starts at the intersection of Gibbon and South Fairfax streets and ends at Wilkes and South Royal streets. After the parade, you can visit some of Alexandria’s historical buildings and museums for free including Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, Friendship Firehouse Museum, Carlyle House and the Lycium, Alexandria’s History Museum.
There are also a number of other exciting events throughout the Presidents Day weekend in Alexandria in addition to the parade. There will be a Revolutionary War reenactment camp at Fort Ward Park on Sunday, February 14th from 10 am to 3 pm, with demonstrations of military life during the colonial years and a skirmish at 2 pm. Alexandria’s Annual George Washington Classic 10K and 2K fun run is scheduled for Sunday, February 14th starting at 8 am. The race benefits the Washington’s Day parade. Celebrate President Washington’s birthday as they did centuries ago at the Birthright Ball at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum. The 18th century tavern once played host to George Washington, John Adams, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson amongst other notable figures in our history and is one of the few historic taverns still in operation today. The Birthright Ball takes place the Saturday before Presidents Day and is an evening of toasts, re-enactors, historical programs, dancing and an 18th century banquet.
Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home in Virginia, is celebrating his birthday on the weekend before Presidents Day, from February 13th to 15th. The estate will also hold a special birthday celebration on the president’s actual birthday, February 22nd. Admission is free for visitors on Monday, February 15th with military demonstrations and a keynote address by FBI director, James Comey. Special events during the holiday weekend include storytelling from re-enactors portraying George Washington’s family and friends, wreath laying and a visit with “General Washington” himself. There will be an 18th century dance demonstration, tributes to our first president, patriotic music and Revolutionary War military demonstrations on the east lawn. Join the fun at George Washington’s 284th birthday party on February 22nd at the estate with birthday cake, storytelling and a one-of-a-kind naturalization ceremony to honor America’s newest citizens.
Presidents Day is a perfect day to visit the monuments on the National Mall in Washington D.C. There are monuments and memorials to Presidents Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson and Franklin D. Roosevelt along the National Mall and the Tidal Basin. The museums and monuments are always free. The National Museum of American History has a great exhibit called “The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden”, with over 900 presidential artifacts. The National Gallery also has a presidential exhibit called “American Presidents”, with iconic portraits of past presidents.
The third Monday in February is designated as Presidents Day, a day to honor all of the Presidents of the United States. The holiday originated as a celebration of George Washington’s actual birthday on February 22nd. The young country celebrated this day for decades before it was officially made a federal holiday in 1885. President Washington was the first person to have a national holiday designated in his honor. In 1970, Congress moved the holiday to Monday to have an extended weekend and Presidents Day as we know it was established. Today, it is a day designated to honor all of our country’s presidents, with an emphasis on President Washington and President Abraham Lincoln, who also has a birthday in February. Abraham’s Lincoln’s birthday, February 12th, was celebrated separately by many states and the federal government for nearly one hundred years! This Monday, February 15th, banks, federal, city and state offices, post offices and most schools are closed in observance of this holiday.
If you have time over the Presidents Day weekend, be sure to head out and celebrate our presidents by enjoying one of the many exciting events in the Washington D.C. area.
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