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Memorial Opening Kicks Off Summer’s Festivities

Folklife Festival, Barbecue Battle Also on the Agenda

Honoring America’s “Greatest Generation” will be the theme in Washington this summer, as the dedication of the National World War II Memorial during Memorial Day weekend will kick off an array of outdoor events in the nation’s capitol.

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, more than 140 World War II events will mirror the summer theme of “America Celebrates the Greatest Generation,” said Victoria Isley, a spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C., tourism board. Walking tours, museum exhibits and restaurant menus will be themed specifically to honor World War II veterans throughout the summer, Isley said.

“They run the spectrum from music to art to theater to dance to literature and film, so with more than 80 cultural institutions putting together these special events … there’s just a wide variety of experiences,” Isley said.

About 1 million people are expected to come to Washington for the opening of the World War II Memorial May 29. The 117,000 tickets for the official opening have been sold out for weeks, Isley said.

“That’s just an indication of how popular and how interested [people are] in the memorial and in the greatest generation,” she said.

A non-ticketed viewing area on the National Mall has been created to seat about 10,000 more people and allow for 30,000 more in a standing-room-only area, she said.

That weekend, the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage will sponsor the “Tribute to a Generation: National World War II Reunion” on the National Mall. Dozens of activities will be available to visitors, including a stage featuring the music of the World War II era, wartime narratives and displays of military equipment.

Jim Deutsch, program curator for the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, said last month that the event is expected to be the largest gathering of World War II veterans since the war ended.

“There’s so much going on over those four days,” he said. “We’re expecting large crowds, and we hope to have enough to satisfy everyone who comes.”

The traditional Memorial Day Concert on May 30 will also honor the World War II generation, specifically the troops who took part in D-Day. The concert, hosted by actor and World War II veteran Ossie Davis, will feature several popular performers, including Brad Paisley and Joshua Bell, and will take place on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

Keeping with tradition, the National Symphony Orchestra will also perform.

The concert will pay tribute to U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq and children who have lost parents to the war.

Many of the city’s other popular summertime events will follow the World War II theme, including the traditional Independence Day Celebration.

Sponsored by the National Park Service, the celebration will take place July 4, primarily on Constitution Avenue Northwest between Seventh and 17th streets.

This year, the Independence Day parade will serve as “a salute to the greatest generation,” Isley said. As in previous years, the parade will feature floats, more than 100 marching bands and national figures.

Following the parade, musicians will perform on Constitution Avenue until the National Symphony Orchestra takes the stage at 8 p.m. Vince Gill and Amy Grant are among the stars expected to accompany the orchestra, Isley said.

Fireworks are scheduled to be launched from the Washington Monument grounds at 9:20 p.m.

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival also returns this year, highlighting Latino music, Haiti and maritime traditions. The event, held June 23-27 and June 30-July 4 on the Mall, will allow visitors to learn salsa moves, sample Haitian food and compare styles of waterfowl decoys. Dance workshops will be offered, along with live music, art, storytelling, demonstrations and a duck and goose calling contest.

Despite recent events in Haiti, the festival still plans to highlight the accomplishments of the nation, the second in the Americas to win and maintain freedom. The program will highlight the geographical and cultural diversity of Haiti and how that is able to sustain the Haitian people.

“It’s been in the works for two years,” said Vicki Moeser, a Smithsonian spokeswoman. “As of now, it’s still going on.”

Another event that draws visitors is the National Capital Barbecue Battle. Always popular, this year marks the 12th time that barbecuing teams from around the country will converge upon the nation’s capital in an attempt to win prize money in the battle, which will be held June 26-27.

This year brings two distinctions, however: The prize money has been raised to $25,000, and the National Pork Board has proclaimed the competition its Official Pork Barbecue Championship.

About 100,000 people are expected to attend the event, which has raised $500,000 for the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubs.

“Most people come down because they can taste barbecue from around the country,” said Suzanne Tubis, public relations director for the battle. “It’s probably the largest assembly of all different kinds of barbecue that they can find in the area.”

The battle will also feature an array of live music and attractions, including cooking-related exhibits and the Heineken Beverage Gardens. Most of the 30 exhibits are family-friendly and interactive, Tubis said.

Below are some other events taking place in Washington this summer. All are free unless otherwise noted.

Shakespeare Free for All: The Shakespeare Theatre presents “Much Ado About Nothing” as part of its 2004 Free-for-All event at the Carter Barron Amphitheatre in Rock Creek Park. Nightly performances from May 27 to June 6. For more information, call (202) 547-1122.

Memorial Day Concert: One of the summer’s most popular events, seats for the concert, held on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, fill up fast. The concert starts at 8 p.m. For more information, visit memorialdayconcert.

Military Band Concerts: The Architect of the Capitol presents its summer concert series starting June 1 on the West Front Plaza of the U.S. Capitol. The 130-year-old tradition features performances by the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine bands nightly at 8 p.m. For more information, visit

Capital Jazz Fest: More than a dozen jazz performers, including India.Arie, are expected to attend this year’s event, held at the Merriweather Post Pavillion in Columbia, Md. The festival kicks off at midnight on June 4 and lasts until June 6. Ticket prices vary. For more information, call (301) 982-1800.

Dupont-Kalorama Museum Walk-in Day: The 21st annual festival allows visitors to see eight museums free of charge and take part in several related activities. The event takes place June 5 and 6, but not all of the museums will be open both days. Free shuttle buses provided. For more information, visit

Capitol Pride Parade and Festival: About 200,000 people are expected to attend this year’s event, the fourth-largest gay pride celebration in the United States. The festival, which will run from June 6-13, will be staged on Pennsylvania Avenue. The parade, held at 5:30 p.m. June 12, will take place in Dupont Circle. For more information, visit

Dance Africa D.C.: Held June 7-13 at Dance Place, 3225 Eighth St. NE, the 17th annual festival celebrates the “vitality and richness” of African culture through dance, visual arts, food, clothing and crafts. Some performances and classes are free, while others require admission. For more information, visit

Live! On Woodrow Wilson Plaza: This summer series features a mix of live entertainment, ranging from comedy to dance and theater, each day at noon starting June 9 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. For more information, visit

Tudor Place tours: Special tours of Tudor Place will be offered this summer, focusing on Custis-Peter family members who have served in the U.S. military. Tours will take place June 13, July 11 and Aug. 8. Tickets are $6, but $5 for visitors who mention the “America Celebrates the Greatest Generation” summertime theme. For more information, call (202) 965-0400.

Fete de la Musique: The first day of summer is recognized in this internationally known music festival, held June 18-21. The capital’s “Mardi Gras of Music” event will offer free concerts throughout the District. For more information, visit

Gargoyle Tour: Experts share the stories of the humorous, frightening and biographical gargoyles that fill the grounds of the Washington National Cathedral. Held 6:30-8 p.m. June 24. Event also runs on July 22 and 25. For more information, e-mail

Smithsonian Folklife Festival: The 38th annual event will be held June 23-27 and June 30-July 4 on the National Mall. For more information, call (202) 633-1000.

D.C. Caribbean Carnival: An annual parade featuring 22 bands highlights the carnival, which takes place near Howard University on Georgia Avenue Northwest. The festival will run June 25-27, and individual times and locations for other festival events vary. For more information, visit www.dc

National Capital Barbecue Battle: The 12th annual event will take place June 26 and 27 on Pennsylvania Avenue, between Ninth and 14th streets Northwest. Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for kids. For more information, call (301) 860-0630.

Sunset Serenades: The Smithsonian’s National Zoo presents live concerts on its grounds each Thursday evening starting July 1. Music ranges from jazz to folk to rock ’n’ roll. For more information, visit

Independence Day Celebration: Held July 4, the annual celebration features a parade, concert and fireworks. For more information, visit

Live on Penn Concert Series: Popular musical artists will perform on Pennsylvania Avenue between Third and Sixth streets Northwest every Saturday from July 10 to Sept. 18, except Labor Day. Doors open at 5 p.m. For more information, visit

Legg Mason Tennis Classic: Billed as Washington’s premier sporting event, the 36th annual tournament will feature players such as Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation. The tournament will be held Aug. 14-22 at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center. Ticket prices vary. For more information, call (202) 721-9500.

Black Family Reunion: Conceived by civil rights activist Dorothy Height in 1986, the Black Family Reunion serves as a way to highlight the positive contributions blacks make to life in America. Held on the National Mall, the reunion kicks off Sept. 11 with a prayer breakfast and ends Sept. 12 with a gospel concert. For more information, visit

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