75th Anniversary of Mount Vernon Parkway
(Most are "thumbnails" so click to see full size)
National Park Service Celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the
Mount Vernon Memorial Highway
November 10, 2007
The National Park Service invited the George Washington Chapter Model A Club to participate in their November 10, 2007, celebration of the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Mount Vernon Memorial Parkway, now part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
On November 15, 1932, the first true parkway designed for the automobile opened between Arlington Memorial Bridge, which spans the Potomac River at Washington, D.C., and Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate. The opening date in 1932 was planned to coincide with a very significant event of the time, the bicentennial celebration of George Washington’s birth in 1732. The Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, now known as the George Washington Memorial Parkway, cut the time from D.C. to Mount Vernon from 6 hours of travel over poor roads to an hour of pleasant driving on this beautiful scenic parkway along the Potomac River.
Seventy-five years after the parkway was opened, sixteen Model As lined up in front of Mount Vernon, George's estate.
Speeches were given, followed by Tom Quigley, President of the Mount Vernon Chapter of the Model A Ford Club of America, Executive director of the Mount Vernon Estate Jim Rees and National Park Service David Vela cutting a ceremonial ribbon to re-enact the opening of the parkway.
With Park Police escort, the motorcade of Model As then proceeded north on the parkway towards Alexandria, passing trees that were beautiful with their fall colors.
We drove along the Potomac River, crossed the Capitol Beltway, and went non-stop through Old Alexandria, with a police motorcycle dashing ahead to block cross streets. We ran all the red lights, just like the President does, and continued to the Memorial Bridge that goes across the Potomac to Washington, D.C.
Then it was a big sweeping u-turn, down under the Memorial Bridge, and back south down the parkway along the river...
...to Fort Hunt Park where the cars were on display for a couple of hours.
It was a beautiful day and a wonderful event; it was a real honor to be able to participate in this celebration.
The pictures that follow show some of our members who wore era clothes for the event, along with quotes that they furnished for a magazine article by Karen Bush and for this website story.
"We had a grand time today, didn't we? I'd like to share the thrill of the day with the others in our hobby. How exciting that we, the George Washington Club, were invited to commemorate the 75th birthday of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, which just happened to coincide with the general age of our Model A's? I was proud to be there, as I know each of you were."
Tom Quigley: "My thoughts were, we got the royal treatment and they were stunned by the volume and heartiness of participation. Without us, that would have been 2 police car convoy with lights on having no obvious reason for stopping traffic. As it was, we sailed up the parkway as a slug of commuter envy. I have not run so many red lights (safely sanctioned) in my life. I probably won't do so again unless we are invited to the centenary celebration 25 years from now. I am not personally counting on being there, but who can say for sure?
Paul Gauthier: "We made a big hit with all the visitors to Mt Vernon - most had no idea why we were there. I'm glad I wore my "outfit" as I got to talk to several folks about Model As and explain about the 75th anniversary of the Parkway."
Gil Beckner: "Charlene and I enjoyed the trip and being part of the celebration. The police escort and the eventual sunny day along the Parkway was just fantastic and we enjoyed the sights. We would love to do it again."
Jerry Olexson: "This event is surely a highlight of the Model A hobby for me and it was great to be part of the event"
Benny Leonard: “This trip was one of the best. Keeping warm we used a lap blanket, the Park police were great; while driving I wondered what it was like driving the same route back in the thirties - how exciting it must have been, packing a lunch and getting ready ,putting on your best clothes and the smell of gas and oil.”
Andy and Ellen Jaeger
Clem Clement: (That's his Cabriolet but that's not Clem) “We had such a wonderful time as I'm almost speechless to describe. We did a rolling convoy of 16 Model A Fords for Mt Vernon to the Memorial bridge and back with out stopping in the middle of the day. At about 25 miles an hour with police escort. Crisp sunny fall weather with the leaves at their peak, the Potomac sparkling and old DC skyline clearly visible without haze. My, my, it was so powerful yet so easy and seemed so proper. I can't imagine a better event for our Model A's and our Club. We also got to ahooga many of the Vietnam vets returning from the parade in DC by the Wall. Whattaday!"
Woody Williams: I can't find his quote but he had a good time and said it was cold in that roadster!
Four cars carried these magnetic signs commemorating the anniversary.