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Shh! Don’t Tell George Washington: Historic Mount Vernon Celebrates Washington’s 278th Birthday with a Surprise Party for the First President!

Mon, 01/04/2010

Admission is FREE on Monday, February 15 – the Most Popular Day of the Year at Mount Vernon!
Due to the weather, events may be scaled back and performance times may vary.

For Immediate Release 
January 4, 2010
Digital images available

Media Contact:
Melissa Wood (703) 799-5203
mwood@mountvernon.org

Shh! Don’t Tell George Washington: Historic Mount Vernon Celebrates Washington’s 278th Birthday with a Surprise Party for the First President!

MOUNT VERNON, Va. – Historic Mount Vernon celebrates George Washington’s 278th birthday with a new “Surprise Birthday Party” for the General!  Daily from February 13 through February 15, the party features “General Washington” receiving surprise birthday cheers and birthday gifts presented from his 18th-century friends. On Saturday, February 13, and Sunday, February 14, have a taste of Washington’s favorite breakfast – hoecakes swimming in butter and honey with “the General” himself! The weekend leads up to a grand holiday party for the first president on Monday, February 15, with free admission, the new “Surprise Birthday Party” celebration, and a moving wreathlaying ceremony at Washington’s tomb.  New this year: Rare Washington objects return to Mount Vernon for a new exhibition, Bringing Them Home: 150 Years of Restoring the Washington Collection, opening on February 13. The exhibition celebrates 150 years of Historic Mount Vernon opening to the public and the preservation efforts of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association.  Most items are being publicly exhibited for the first time, and many have not been at Mount Vernon since the Washingtons lived here.

Schedule for Saturday, February 13 and Sunday, February 14

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.  Join “George Washington” for breakfast as he enjoys his favorite morning meal, “hoecakes swimming in butter and honey”.  Pull up a hay bale and chat with the Father of Our Country about politics, farming, the Revolutionary War, and life in the 18th century.

1:30 p.m. “George Washington’s Surprise Birthday Party” Join characters from the 18th century as they help visitors surprise General Washington with rousing birthday cheers and a serenade! After the birthday surprise Washington will be presented with gifts which he will describe and react to during a speech to his birthday visitors. The surprise is reminiscent of Washington’s birthday in 1778 during which the Continental Artillery band serenaded Washington at Valley Forge. 

New Exhibition Opens: Beginning February 13, Historic Mount Vernon’s F.M. Kirby Gallery in the Donald W. Reynolds Museum hosts a special new exhibition, Bringing Them Home: 150 Years of Restoring the Washington Collection.  Organized in honor of the sesquicentennial of the opening of Mount Vernon to the public in 1860, Bringing Them Home celebrates the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association’s remarkable 150-year pursuit of original Washington artifacts.  These recently returned items—which include examples of fine and decorative arts, books, and manuscripts—enrich our understanding of George and Martha Washington’s daily lives at Mount Vernon.  Most items are being publicly exhibited for the first time, and many have not been at Mount Vernon since the Washingtons lived here.  Bringing Them Home tells the incredible tale of how objects have returned—and continue to return—to Mount Vernon.

Included in regular admission: $15 for adults; $7 for youth ages 6-11; and free for children five and younger.

Schedule for Monday, February 15, the national holiday for Washington’s Birthday

Free admission Monday only

10:00 a.m.  Take part in a special wreathlaying ceremony at Washington’s tomb.  “General Washington” will be on the grounds to greet visitors and receive their birthday wishes.

1:30 p.m. “George Washington’s Surprise Birthday Party” Join characters from the 18th century as they help visitors surprise General Washington with rousing birthday cheers! After the birthday surprise Washington will be presented with gifts which he will describe and react to during a speech to his birthday visitors. The surprise is reminiscent of Washington’s birthday in 1778 during which the Continental Artillery band serenaded Washington at Valley Forge.

Schedule for Sunday, February 21

6:30 p.m. 63rd Annual George Washington’s Birthnight Supper and Ball (February 21 only), featuring cocktails, supper, raffle, and silent auction.  Hosted by the Neighborhood Friends, the event raises money for an endowment to fund a living history blacksmith to demonstrate his craft at Mount Vernon. RSVP deadline is February 5.  Tickets start at $175.  Call 703-799-8647 for reservations.

Monday, February 22 – George Washington’s Real Birthday

Anyone named George, or whose birthday, like Washington’s, is February 22, will be admitted FREE upon presenting identification.

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Events, programs, and activities are subject to change.

Public Information
: 703-780-2000; 703-799-8697 (TDD); http://Visit.MountVernon.org

Since 1860, over 80 million visitors have made George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens the most popular historic home in America.  Through thought-provoking tours, entertaining events, and stimulating educational programs on the Estate and in classrooms across the nation, Mount Vernon strives to preserve George Washington’s place in history as “First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen.”  Mount Vernon is owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, America’s oldest national preservation organization, founded in 1853.  A picturesque drive to the southern end of the scenic George Washington Memorial Parkway, Mount Vernon is located just 16 miles from the nation’s capital.

Hours of operation: April-August, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; March, September, October, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; November – February, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Regular admission rates: adults, $15.00; senior citizens, $14.00; children age 6-11, when accompanied by an adult, $7.00; and children under age 5, FREE.  Admission fees, restaurant and retail proceeds, along with private donations, support the operation and restoration of Mount Vernon.