Long holiday weekends bring opportunities across the region

Carol Timblin

With New Year’s celebrations behind us, we can look forward to the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend surrounding the federal holiday, Jan. 16, which honors the slain civil rights leader.

Serve DC is matching residents interested in giving a day of service with volunteer opportunities and community-based organizations in the nation’s capital. Many special events are planned around the holiday, too, in towns and cities all over the country.

In Washington, D.C., the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade is planned for the morning of Jan. 18, followed by a special service at the Washington National Cathedral that afternoon. Also planned are the “Let Freedom Ring” concert at the Kennedy Center and a wreath-laying ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. (Dates and times are to be announced.)

In Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell will ring at noon in keeping with a tradition suggested by King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, when the national holiday was created in 1984. The symbolic ringing of the bell recalls the closing words of Dr. King’s “Dream” speech: “When we allow freedom to ring — when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, We are free at last.’”

In Atlanta, home of the Martin Luther King Memorial and The King Center, a week of special youth programs, educational seminars, community dialogues, and service projects will culminate with the annual “Salute to Greatness” at the Hyatt Regency Jan. 16. Also, the National Park Service will lay a wreath at King’s grave Jan. 18. Throughout the week visitors are encouraged to visit the King home and learn about his strategic role in the civil rights movement.

At the beaches

The long holiday weekend is also an ideal time for taking a mini-vacation to the beach, the mountains, or another travel destination, since special rates and packages may be available. In Ocean City, the Nautical & Wildlife Art Festival, showcasing painters, sculptors, model ship builders, and multimedia artists, will take place Jan. 16–17 at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center. Simple Truth will play modern and classic rock at Harborside Jan. 16, followed by Opposite Directions Jan. 17.

Skiers and boarders can look forward to special events during Martin Luther King weekend at Wintergreen Resort.

Skiers and boarders can look forward to special events during Martin Luther King weekend at Wintergreen Resort.

The music of Sondheim, Sinatra, and Streisand will be featured during “The S* Show,” a concert at Camp Rehoboth Community Center, Jan. 16–17, to benefit the camp and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C.

The Dream Bowl III, a college football all-star showcase of the best Division II and III players from around the country, is planned for Jan. 14–18 at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex. The ever-popular Virginia Restaurant Week will begin Jan. 10 and run through Jan. 19, with more than 60 participating restaurants offering fixed price menus starting at $10. The Coastal Wine Fest, Jan. 16–17 at the

Virginia Beach Convention Center, will feature area wineries, educational seminars, specialty foods, a craft beer garden, a grape stomp competition, arts and crafts, and live entertainment.

On the slopes

Winter sports enthusiasts will be hitting the slopes during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday at many area resorts, which offer a variety of activities and special packages.

The free Stage Wisp Concert Series No. 3 is planned for Jan. 15 at Wispers Bar at Wisp Resort in McHenry, Md., and the BlackStrap Rail Jam Series No. 1 competition, open to skiers and riders, will take place at the resort’s Central Park Jan. 16. And get this: As part of Pacific Group Resorts Inc., Wisp season pass holders can ski free at Wintergreen Resort in Virginia and Ragged Mountain Resort in New Hampshire, and receive up to six complimentary lift tickets at each resort.

The holiday weekend at Wintergreen, Jan. 15–18, includes Demo Days by Freestyle, Wintergreen Rail Jam, and the kickoff of the National Ski Areas Association’s Safety Awareness Week, plus great music slope-side, live entertainment at The Edge, and NASTAR. Winter Escape rates that weekend start at $169.

Presidents Day

We can look forward to another special weekend when we celebrate Presidents Day weekend, Feb. 13–16.

Special events are planned for the entire weekend at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens. On Feb. 16, visitors get in free and may engage in several special activities. Breakfast with George Washington, featuring food demonstrations, samples, and music, will start at 9:00am. The wreath-laying ceremony at Washington’s tomb is scheduled for 10:00am, followed by “As I Know Him” encounters with the first president’s contemporaries at 11:00am. In the afternoon, visitors may learn more about the president during the program on “General Washington, We Honor You.”

Alexandria, where George Washington was a regular visitor, will host the annual George Washington Classic 10K Race Feb. 14, and military demonstrations and reenactments are planned for the same day at Fort Ward Museum. The next day, Old Town Alexandria will host the annual George Washington’s Birthday Parade.

At the Lincoln Memorial, in the nation’s capital, there will be a wreath-laying ceremony and a reading of the Gettysburg Address Feb. 15, starting at 1:00pm.

Colonial Williamsburg will celebrate the holiday all weekend, with a series of special programs that are included in the price of admission. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison will meet the public Feb. 13.

That evening, there’s a concert at the Governor’s Palace (special ticket required). The next day, Feb. 14, Washington will reflect on his long career, and Virginia Gov. Patrick Henry will talk about his friendships and political relations with key revolutionary leaders, including Jefferson and Washington. In the afternoon there is the Salute to Presidents, featuring fife and drums and a cannon firing.

Spring vacations

Are you thinking spring vacation already? You can find useful information and special deals on cruises, special tours, and resort destinations on many travel sites. When planning your next cruise, check out the travel agencies you’ll find in the Cruise Corner feature in Recreation News.

Travelzoo.com is a great site for packages and special deals on hotels and resorts, cruises, international tours, and more. Airbnb.com helps you find desirable accommodations at affordable rates around the world.

You can realize savings when purchasing CityPass for visits to Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Toronto.  Traveling solo? Check out solotravelerblog.com. Over 50? Visit fabseniortravel.com or roadscholaradventures.org.

Safe travels.

Carol Timblin welcomes travel news at ctimblin@gmail.com.

Wintergreen Resort

Skiers and boarders can look forward to special events during Martin Luther King weekend at Wintergreen Resort.

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