A few years ago, my good friend invited me to tag along with her and some coworkers for a day of picnicking downtown. I am not one to turn down a baguette, some early spring sunshine and some good company. So I went.
What I expected from the day was some hummus, some cheese, some light day drinking and some small talk. But what I ended up doing completely surprised me. I flew a kite.
Yes, you heard me correctly. I know. I am such a rebel. But I must admit, growing up, I didn’t exactly pack my schedule with kite flying. (Mostly it was packed with singing along to Mary Poppins and her tune on flying kites.) So there I was, full of hummus and flying a kite on the National Mall with hundreds of children. And it was a blast.
The Annual Blossom Kite Festival is upon us. The day-long celebration — which is part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival — takes place this Saturday, March 30, on the National Mall. The free event runs from 10 am until 4:30 pm.
So pack a picnic, a kite and some extra string. I’ll see you on the mall, kite fans.
There are street closings on Sunday, March 17, for the Shaw’s Tavern St. Patrick’s Day Neighborhood Festival and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Parade: For the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the parade will form on the National Mall and proceed westbound on Constitution Avenue NW from 7th Street to 17th Street NW, where it will disband. 7th Street will be closed between Constitution Avenue NW and Independence Avenue SW from approximately 9 am to 3 pm. Streets leading to Constitution Avenue NW will be closed during this time period.
If you are in the mood to head over to the National Mall, to enjoy and celebrate America’s Birthday, here is what you need to know. The temperature will be around 96 to 98 degrees with a chance of thunderstorms late in the evening. Activities around the Mall during July 4th celebrations are popular not only among tourists, but with locals and neighbors from Virginia and Maryland. It can get crowded.
The best way to reach the National Mall is either walking, biking or if you really need to take the Metro. Areas surrounding the Mall get really congested with traffic because of closed roads for the Independence Day Parade. Be ready for the heat. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, and tons of sun block. Carry a bottle of water, if not two.
Activities on the National Mall
Once at the Mall, the day is full of activities:
- The Independence Day Parade starts at 11:45 am and goes along Constitution Avenue between 7th and 17th Streets NW.
- The White House Visitor Center has a series of games and activities involving America’s Birthday from 9 am to 3 pm.
- The National Archives will open its doors at 10 am with a long day celebration party including patriotic music, a reading of the Declaration of Independence by historical characters and family activities for all ages.
- Smithsonian Folklife Festival this year runs from 11 am to 5 pm. The AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display.
- The concert at the Washington Monument is from 6 to 9 pm with the U.S. Navy Band. This year’s special guest is Ben Vereen.
- The Capitol Concert is from 8 pm to 9:30 pm, featuring the National Symphony Orchestra and pop singers performing on the West Lawn of the Capitol. Get there early — doors open at 3 pm and it is very popular.
- The 4th of July Fireworks will start at around 9 or 9:15 pm, once it is dark. If they are cancelled due to rain, you can see them on July 5th.
But, if you are not up for the Mall and want to celebrate in the neighborhood, head to one of the many bars in the area where those with rooftops surely will be hectic and patriotically fun!
Have a great 4th of July, Borderstan!
From Scott Leibowitz. Find Scott on Twitter @Lebodome. Email him at scott[AT]borderstan.com.
DC has a lot of unique qualities when it comes to the demographics of its residents, especially in the Borderstan area (aka completely dissimilar to the rest). One of the qualities that always caught my eye was the high variety of college alumni populating the area.
I mean if you got a degree in Political Science, the logistical move is of course go to DC and hope an internship turns into a job (boy, reality is a bitch sometimes). With all these people in the area, it has led to the creation of probably the most competitive league in the city, Capital Alumni Network (CAN).
The Capital Alumni Network
For anyone who was an active intramural participant during their college years, this is about as close as you will get to that feeling of competitiveness and serious play that you tasted then. This is not kickball or shuffleboard where heavy drinking is a part of league play.
The sports include 8 on 8 flag football, 5 on 5 full court basketball, full softball, volleyball and soccer. All of the sports have some sort of “# of girls required on the field” at any time to make sure it’s inclusive. There are also rules limiting the number of varsity athletes you are allowed, so the Kentucky team can’t load the court with their famous ‘one-and-done’-ers.
Now for those who might say, “Well I went to a huge Division 1 school and didn’t even like them that much,” you can actually join any team you want as not every school can fill a roster, so there is flexibility. I played on my brother’s college’s basketball team for the last two years and have had a blast.
Some schools have large alumni showings in DC due to proximity, but for others it’s a great way to organize and meet new people. The skill level varies from sport to sport, but I will say this is league is taken a bit more seriously, so if you are looking for easygoing afternoon activity, try the ski-ball league.
Overall, big fan of CAN mostly because of how official and how organized these leagues tend to be. Definitely worth a try for anyone out there.
So our local Washington Capitals snuck into the NHL playoffs and will be facing off against the defending champions and always tough Boston Bruins in round 1. As I have mentioned in previous columns, this is the best team in the city, and I am sure the bars in town will be great atmospheres to watch. Support our ‘Caps, and Rock the Red!
Links! Links! Ice Cold Links!
- If you are ever arrested for public drunkenness, PLEASE do this.
- Ever wonder why the Metro never runs right? Here is why.
- No better way to start baseball season than an on the field streaker in a batman costume at Camden Yards in Baltimore.
From Maggie Barron. You can reach her at maggie[AT]borderstan.com and follow her on Twitter @maggiebarron.
It’s been a tough few weeks for monuments. Secretary Ken Salazar has instructed the National Park Service to fix the rather dimwittedly abridged “drum major” quote on the side of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. And Congress will hold a hearing on March 20 to discuss the much-loathed plans for the Eisenhower Memorial.
How is it that stone can inspire so much flesh-and-blood passion?
The Eisenhower brouhaha began when Ike’s family didn’t like the design put forward by architect Frank Gehry and approved unanimously by the Eisenhower Memorial Commission.
The design includes two huge stone bas reliefs depicting Eisenhower as a statesman and general, but what seems to have offended the family and a slew of conservative critics are the parts that evoke Ike’s humble upbringing as a “barefoot boy from Kansas.” (Lydia DePillis at Washington City Paper has a fantastic rundown of different articles on both sides of the debate).
First, I’d like to address the critics who are up in arms that the Eisenhower Memorial is somehow disrespectful. For example, the Heritage Foundation blog said that the memorial “plans to strip him of his moral discovery, his convictions, and his accomplishments.”
Whoah, people. He is getting a memorial on the National Mall. That is an honor reserved for the smallest group of presidents, men much more famous and beloved than Eisenhower. People are spending millions of dollars to honor this guy in perpetuity. So let’s get off the “Eisenhower is being grossly mistreated” kick.
I am not in love with the Gehry design either, but for entirely different reasons. I see it as part of a larger trend overtaking our monuments. I don’t mean any disrespect towards the people being honored. My issue is with the increasingly Disney-fied ways we end up honoring them.
Have you ever noticed that walking through the FDR Memorial is strangely similar to meandering through the line for Thunder Mountain? Or that MLK protruding from the “Stone of Hope” looks more like a parade float than a human being?
Our monuments today (I’m thinking the Korean War Memorial forward) seem hyper-eager to provide people with an “experience.” Every character facet or event related to the subject has to be completely spelled out with quotes, pictures, and usually some sort of water fountain. The Eisenhower Memorial and its surroundings, with its photographs, quotes, sculptures, and tapestries, is just one more example.
Monuments used to be about making a singular statement for people to interpret. They could be simple, or even abstract. Now they’re about hitting people over the head with the obvious while ticking off boxes for different interest groups. It’s a mentality that leaves you with 56 columns around the WWII memorial rather than 50 (lest ye forget Guam!)
Maybe the monuments have become so scattered because we really only expect people to “skim” them, anyway. Ed Jackson, the Chief Architect for the MLK Memorial, said he decided to abridge Dr. King’s quote because “By the time the visitor engages with the Stone of Hope…they’re beyond the point where they’re interested in reading a lot of detail.”
That pretty much says it all. “Four score and seven years ago, yada yada yada…” People are so exhausted by the time they reach the main part of the monument that they can’t be bothered to read more than ten words.
Our successful monuments, the ones that give you chills on approach, don’t need to be skimmed. The artists’ singular vision and ability to edit a big idea to its essence give the monuments their power. Without that vision, — which not everyone will like — you get the little-bit-of-everything approach typified by recent designs.
In fact, I have a feeling that none of our best monuments would pass muster by today’s “standards.”
If Lincoln’s memorial came up for approval today, critics would say “Wait! You are only representing him with a beard. What about all of his accomplishments when he had no beard? You are denigrating his memory!”
For Washington: “How are people going to know what Washington did from looking at this?” or perhaps more likely, “Why are we representing our first president with a symbol from the Middle East? Why do you hate America?”
For Jefferson: “Why is there no mention of Sally Hemmings?”
By trying to please everyone, we’ve reached a point where our monuments have no center. Instead they are scattered with different snippets, images, and messages, all meant to keep us stimulated, but not engaged — and unoffended, but not moved.
The Dupont-Logan-U Street area usually receives some spillover when there is a major event in DC–a rally, a march, a presidential inauguration. Spillover means more people on our streets and in restaurants, and buses and subways more crowded than usual. In addition, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut Avenue NW are all home to large hotels, and the area has numerous bed and breakfasts for visitors.
Since no one knows how many people will show up for tomorrow’s two events–the Glenn Beck event at the Lincoln Memorial and the Rev. Al Sharpton counter-rally at Dunbar High School–it’s difficult to predict what if any effect it will have on the neighborhood.
Three Events on Saturday
The Beck event is called Restoring Honor and the Sharpton-National Action Network event is Reclaim the Dream. There is also a third event tomorrow: Celebrate the Dream. Organizers plan to erect a four-foot high sculpture with quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King on the National Mall near 13th Street NW.
Check out the TBD.com article that has details on tomorrow’s events.
Proximity to Landmarks
Ever mapped out just how close we live to landmarks in downtown DC? Take a look at the distances from a 14th and P NW, a major intersection in Logan Circle, to selected points. This is why the Dupont-Logan-U Street area is always affected, in some way, by large rallies, events and gatherings downtown.
Walking distance from 14th and P NW to:
Attention parents (and teachers)… If you are going to Saturday’s Earth Day 2010 festivities on the National Mall, check out KaBOOM!’s “Imagination Playground in a Box” KaBOOM! is a national non-profit that promotes the construction of playgrounds within walking distance of every kid’s home; the group works with communities on the design and construction of playgrounds and parks.
According to KaBOOM!, the Imagination Playground in a Box is part of Underwriters Laboratories Pavilion is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (the display went up April 17 on the Mall)
Win a Playground
In addition, KaBOOM! is holding a contest to give away four of the playgrounds: “If you’d like to win an Imagination Playground in a Box for your community organization, nursery school, elementary school, etc., UL and KaBOOM! are holding a contest to give away four. So get as many friends, neighbors, and family members as possible to go to www.SafetyAtHome.com, click the KaBOOM! Playspace Finder, and become a “Fan” of an existing playspace and that playspace. The “fanning” period runs from April 16th through May 31st. Then, starting June 1st, we’ll look at the entries that have the most “fans” to find the four communities where an Imagination Playground in a Box will have the most impact.”
Enjoy this slide show of Inauguration photographs submitted by Borderstanians James Andrews, Kathleen Carr, Steven Henry, Vince Hurteau, Devika Levy and Susan Volman. “Thank you” to all of you for these 37 photos, most of them from Inauguration Day plus a few from the days just prior to January 20.
We asked readers who attended the Inaugural ceremonies on the National Mall to rate the event’s logistics. In an extremely unscientific and unreliable poll of Borderstan.com readers, 61 respondents (as of Jan. 31) said the following about Inaugural ceremony logistics:
Inaugural ceremony logistics were:
- Excellent: 8% (5 votes)
- Good: 26% (16 votes)
- Fair: 21% (13 votes)
- Poor: 16% (10 votes)
- Really Bad: 28% (17 votes)
I cannot say these stories are completely verified (from my online searches) and it will be interesting to see what HBO ends up saying (or doing) about the matter. It seems HBO did two things Sunday:
What will you be doing on January 20, Inauguration Day? At home? Wandering your neighborhood and taking in the sights? At work? Out of town? Attempting to see something related to the Inauguration?
Free in DC has listings of lots of great free things to see and do in Washington. Here is another one from Free in DC:
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of American History are co-sponsoring a celebration of the Latin American holiday Los Días de los Muertos (Days of the Dead), with a two-day family-friendly event at the National Museum of the American Indian Mall Museum.
The Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe will feature a special menu for the weekend, including roasted chicken with a vanilla-cinnamon mole sauce, two sides, and pan de muertos (a special sweet bread made in honor of the occasion).
By the way, here is what Wikipedia has to say about Día de los Muertos:
The Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos in Spanish) is a holiday celebrated mainly in Mexico and by people of Mexican heritage (and others) living in the United States and Canada. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and relatives who have died. The celebration occurs on the 1st and 2nd of November, in connection with the Catholic holy days of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day which take place on those days. Read entire post.
More Information About Museum Celebration
- What: Two-Day Celebration of Los Días de los Muertos (Days of the Dead)
- When: Saturday, November 1, and Sunday, November 2, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.
- Where: Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall at 4th Street & Independence Avenue SW.
- Information Online: See complete list of events at the Museum.