Independence Day will be an extra special day in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood, as the city celebrates both the 239th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the reopening of the newly revitalized Washington Monument.
The monument’s construction began 200 years ago; its cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1815. Over the past year and a half, under the guidance of the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy, the monument has undergone a significant restoration project, including structural bolstering, careful cleaning and painting, and the addition of interactive exhibits that use technology to help visitors engage with the monument’s story and understand its historical relevance.
This year at the monument (600 block of North Charles Street), the 4th of July Monumental Bicentennial will begin at 8:30 a.m., with a naturalization ceremony, including about 40 candidates who will become U.S. citizens. During the ceremony, the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University will perform.
Around 10:45 a.m., a ribbon cutting ceremony will begin, with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake in attendance. The ceremony will feature speakers discussing citizenship, the monument and its restoration, and George Washington, and music from the Maryland Defense Force Band and Fort McHenry Fife & Drum Band.
After the ribbon cutting, starting around 11:30 a.m., a family-friendly day of fun will kick off, including historical re-enactors, a working blacksmith, crafts and games for kids, colonial period games and demonstrations, live music, strolling musicians and plenty of food and drinks.
Pahl’s Farmstead will hold a farmer’s market and a petting zoo and local bakers can compete in contests searching for the best cornbread, cherry or peach dessert.
The event is presented by the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy and Bank of America. Musical guests will include Ken Kolodner, Larksong, Andy Poxon and The Crawdaddies. Food and drinks will be plentiful, with fried chicken and cornbread from Dooby’s, barbecue from Jurassic Pork, grilled oysters from Ryleigh’s Oyster, Brewer’s Art’s Monumental Ale, whiskey flights and wines from Washington state from Spirits of Mount Vernon and ice cream from The Charmery.
Other spots within the Mount Vernon neighborhood will also be in on the fun, with a neighborhood scavenger hunt and performances, tours, exhibitions and activities at the Engineers Club, Walters Art Museum, The Peabody Institute, Maryland Historical Society (including exhibition of the two time capsules uncovered during the monument restoration process) and Mount Vernon United Methodist Church. Camp Center Stage and the Baltimore School for the Arts will also perform in the park squares.
During the event, the monument and its new interactive exhibition space will also be open for the public to enjoy.
The fair itself is free (though some items will be available for purchase) – and there is something for everyone, says Faith Millspaugh, co-chair, with Adrianne Carroll, of the event. “Everyone can walk in and enjoy,” says Millspaugh. “Everyone in the community is very much involved in the whole event. It’s going to be a really fun time. It’s free, it’s family and there’s a lot to do. It’s hands-on entertainment.”
For more information about the Monumental Bicentennial, visit www.mvpconservancy.org or www.facebook.com/mountvernonplace.
Baltimore Fishbowl is a media sponsor for the Monumental Bicentennial.
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