Washington's Birthday Celebration


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Washington's (George) Birthday Celebration (Alexandria, Virginia)

Third Monday in February and preceding weekend
Every year, Alexandria, Va., hosts an array of activities devoted to George Washington, including the nation's largest parade honoring the Father of Our Country. Alexandria calls itself Washington's hometown; he kept a townhouse there, was one of the city's original surveyors, organized the Friendship Fire Company, and was a vestryman of Christ Church Parish and Charter Master of Masonic Lodge No. 22. A reminder of the president's association with the Masons is the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, a 333-foot-tall replica of the ancient lighthouse in Alexandria, Egypt.
Celebrations of Washington's birthday have been held in Alexandria since the president's lifetime. The first parade to honor him was in 1798, when he came from his Mt. Vernon home to review the troops in front of Gadsby's Tavern.
The present-day festivities get off to an elegant start over the weekend with a banquet followed by the George Washington Birthnight Ball in Gadsby's Tavern, a duplication of the birthday-eve parties held in Washington's lifetime. People wear 18th-century dress, and the banquet toasts to Washington are usually delivered by people who are prominent in current events and who reflect Washington's military background. In 1991, former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell (later Secretary of State under President George W. Bush) proposed the toast. His name and face became widely known during the Persian Gulf War of 1991.
On Monday is the big parade. It lasts two hours and usually draws about 75,000 spectators. George and Martha Washington are depicted, along with other colonial personages. The paraders include a number of Scottish bagpipe groups (the city was founded by Scots), Masonic units, equestrian groups, color guards, fife and drum corps, and horse-drawn carriages.
See also Washington's Birthday
CONTACTS:
George Washington Birthday Celebration Committee
1108 Jefferson St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
703-991-4474; fax: 703-991-4474
www.washingtonbirthday.net
SOURCES:
GdUSFest-1984, p. 198

Washington's (George) Birthday Celebration (Los Dos Laredos)
First half of February
This is a two-week celebration in honor of George Washington, held since 1898 by Laredo, Tex., and its sister city on the other side of the Mexican border, Nuevo Laredo. The two Laredos ( los dos Laredos in Spanish) are linked by history and by three bridges across the Rio Grande. Founded by the Spanish in 1755, Laredo has been under seven different national flags. Both cities also celebrate Mexico's Independence Day during Expomex in September ( see also Mexico Festival of Independence).
Washington's birthday events include dances, fireworks, mariachi music, a fun run, a jalapeno-eating contest, and parades with lavishly decorated floats.
CONTACTS:
Washington's Birthday Celebration Association
1819 E. Hillside Rd.
Laredo, TX 78041
956-722-0589; fax: 956-722-5528
www.wbcalaredo.org
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