On the third Monday in February, the nation celebrates its first president, George Washington. President’s Day first recognized Washington’s birthday but has grown into a commemoration of all founding fathers and everyone who has held the country’s highest office.
President’s Day has special significance in Northern Virginia, the home of Mount Vernon, which was the primary estate of Washington and his family. This President’s Day weekend, the historic site is hosting four days of events from Feb. 18-20 offering an educational and entertaining look into the lives of Washington and the people who lived and worked at his estate.
Saturday and Sunday will share the same itinerary, starting with breakfast at 9 a.m., which will feature a Washington impersonator and offer visitors the chance to try a hoecake while chatting with the general. Melissa Wood, a representative for Mount Vernon, describes the muffin-like treat as one of the first president’s favorites. Later at 2:30 p.m., visitors can celebrate with birthday cake with Washington.
During a wreath-laying ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at The Tomb, Wood says there will be more impersonators channeling historic figures from the estate who can share more details about the life and times of Washington. Both days promise more character performances, story time and birthday card-making workshops.
Events conclude on Monday, when all visitors can enter the estate for free. “It’s one of our biggest days of the year,” Wood says. “We have a special observance on the bowling green, where re-enactors come out to march, charge and perform for George Washington.”
There will also be speakers throughout the day, book signings with authors Thomas B. Allen, Stephen McLeod and Susan Schoelwer and a hickory syrup tasting. Visitors can walk through the Washington Library and look at the president’s books and papers. There will also be music and dance performances; at the latter, instructors will teach the 18th century step Washington would have danced. “Most people don’t know that George Washington was a really good dancer,” Wood says.
Check out Mount Vernon’s full President’s Day weekend itinerary online.