Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

The Annual Smithsonian and Botanical Gardens Orchid Exhibit

On today’s lunchtime bike ride, I stayed with this past week’s “floral theme” (magnolias and cherry blossoms) and went to an exhibit of another kind of blooms.  Entitled “Orchids: Amazing Adaptations,” the temporary exhibit is the 24th annual orchid display, which is a joint collaboration between the Smithsonian Gardens and the United States Botanic Garden, and was hosted this year by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery (SAAM/NPG).  The orchids are on display in the glass-ceilinged Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard of the SAAM/NPG, located at 8th and F Streets (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Penn Quarter neighborhood.

To best appreciate Orchids: Amazing Adaptations, it is helpful to first know what makes an orchid an orchid.  Although they come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, they all share three basic features:  the number of petals; a distinctive middle petal, and; a column.  Orchids have three outer petals, known as sepals, and three inner petals. The sepals help protect the inner petals, which are often highly elaborate.  An orchid’s distinctive middle petal, known as its lip or labellum, is often large and complex. It is designed to attract pollinators and may look like a pouch or an insect.  And in most orchids, the male parts (stamens) and the female parts (style and stigma) are joined together in a single organ, known as a column. Located opposite the lip, this is where pollinators pick up and deposit pollen.

Orchids are masters at evolving to survive, and their ability to adapt to different habitats not only make these plants amazing, but has resulted in them being one of the most widespread and diverse plant families on earth.  There are more than 28,000 species of orchids and they can be found on every continent except Antarctica.  And this year’s Smithsonian orchid exhibit focuses on and explores how they have adapted to a myriad of different habitats, climate conditions, and other living organisms.

An orchid’s leaves, roots, and flowers provide clues about the habitat in which it lives and what pollinates it.  Orchids with thick, fleshy leaves tend to grow on other plants or rocks, and use their leaves to store food and water during dry times, while orchids with thin leaves tend to grow on the ground, where moisture is more plentiful.  Orchids with roots covered in a white coating tend to grow on other plants.  This coating, called velamen, acts like a sponge, helping soak up and store water and nutrients.  Orchids with long, thick, fleshy roots tend to live on the ground. They use their roots to store food in environments where the climate changes seasonally.  And finally, orchid flowers have adapted their shapes, smells, and colors to attract pollinators. Their symmetrical shape helps them attract specific pollinators and transfer pollen effectively.

These differences in their leaves, roots and flowers have enabled orchids to not only survive, but to thrive.  And the vast differences in appearance and aroma that have developed among different orchids in the process of adapting make them infinitely interesting.  Sadly, not all 28,000 species of orchids are included in the exhibit.  But the exhibit does have a stunning variety of hundreds of diverse orchids on display.  And with the magnolias gone, and the cherry blossoms past their peak, the orchid display makes for a picture-perfect completion of the past week’s “floral trifecta.”     

 

[Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]

NOTE:
The Smithsonian Garden and U.S. Botanic Garden’s 24th annual orchid exhibit runs through April 28, 2019, is open daily from 11:30am until 7:00pm, and is free to the public.

About Smithsonian Gardens:
Smithsonian Gardens has designed and managed the Smithsonian’s grounds and interior plant displays in D.C. since 1972.  Smithsonian Gardens enriches the Smithsonian experience through permanent garden displays, horticultural exhibits, collections and education.  The Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection, which was started in 1974, contains more than 8,000 hybrids and species.  And through the North American Orchid Conservation Center, based at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Maryland, Smithsonian Gardens is dedicated to conserving America’s diverse orchid heritage.

About the U.S Botanic Garden:
The United States Botanic Garden is oldest botanic garden in North America. The Botanic Garden informs visitors about the importance and fundamental value and diversity of plants, as well as their aesthetic, cultural, economic, therapeutic and ecological significance. With over a million visitors annually, the Botanic Garden strives to demonstrate and promote sustainable practices. The U.S. Botanic Garden is actually a museum, a living plant museum, and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

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Tips for Taking Photos of D.C.’s Cherry Blossoms

There are lots of tips and tricks out there for taking great photographs of the cherry blossoms here in D.C.  Some say the lighting is the most important element, and that nothing can replace being there during the times of day when the light is best – sunrise and sunset.  Photographers have a name for this kind of light – the golden hour.  Other photographers insist that the composition of the photo is most important.  They say that it’s necessary to envision the shot in advance so that you can line things up and get the shot that you want “in camera.”  Still other photographers will advise you to switch it up.  Take some photos in more traditional ways, and then break the rules and do the opposite.  An example of this would be to use front lighting to illuminate the main subject of the photograph, and then also use backlighting with the sun in front of you so that the light streams through the pedals of the flowers.

These and other bits of advice can be helpful.  So don’t ignore them.  But my personal advice is, “don’t overthink things.”  Be mindful of what is around you, and then take photos of what interests you most.  Try to simply capture what you see if you think it’s interesting or worthwhile enough for you to want others to see it.  Unless you’re a professional photographer trying to complete an assignment for National Geographic, just show up and enjoy yourself.  And take lots of photos.  If you do this, your enjoyment will show in your photos, and others will enjoy them too.

The photos in this post were ones I took during the past week.  Some are better than others.  The worst ones you won’t see because I deleted them.  I hope you enjoy these photos.  I know I enjoyed taking them.  But even the best photos can’t capture the actual cherry blossom experience.  So more than enjoying the photos, I hope they inspire you to want to come to D.C. next spring and see the cherry blossoms in person.  That’s the only way to truly experience and appreciate just how incredibly beautiful they are.

 

[Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]

Note:  Here are some links to past years’ posts about D.C.’s cherry blossoms:
•  Cherry Blossom Buds (2019)
•  Photo Gallery of this Year’s Cherry Blossoms (2018)
•  Cherry Blossom Stages of Development (2018)
•  The Indicator Tree (2018)
•  This Year’s Cherry Blossoms Watch (2017)
•  The Amur Cork Tree (2017)
•  The Japanese Pagoda at the Tidal Basin (2017)
•  Sunrise with the Cherry Blossoms (2016)
•  The Peaking of the Cherry Blossoms (2016)
•  The Annual Cherry Blossoms (2015)
•  The Cherry Blossoms Around The Tidal Basin (2014)
•  The Cherry Trees Collection at the National Arboretum (2014)

The Thomas Hollowell Ghost Bike

Sadly, during my recent hiatis from my daily lunchtime bike rides, another ghost bike was erected here in D.C.  A ghost bike is a bicycle that is painted white and left as a memorial at a site where a cyclist was fatally injured by a collision with a motor vehicle.  It serves as a reminder of the vulnerability of cyclists.

This most-recent ghost bike was placed at the intersection of Constitution Avenue and 12th Street (MAP), in northwest D.C.’s Downtown neighborhood, to remember a Virginia cyclist named Thomas Hollowell, who was hit and killed at that intersection on September 24, 2018.  He was struck by a speeding car that drove through a red light.  The driver then fled the scene, leaving the 64-year old cyclist dying in the street just steps from his job at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, where he was commuting at the time he was killed.  It is also just a block away from my office.  Almost three weeks later police arrested 20-year-old Phillip Peoples of Suitland, Maryland, and charged him with second degree murder in the death of Hollowell.  A D.C. Superior Court judge ordered Peoples jailed without bond pending trial, where he remains today.

So now that I’m back out riding again for my lunchtime bike rides, I rode to the intersection where Hollowell was killed to see the ghost bike and pay my respects.

Hollowell is the latest of several cyclists or scooter riders to die on D.C. streets in the last year.  The most recent accident prior to Hollowell’s involved 20-year-old Maryland resident named Carlos Alejandro Sanchez-Martin, who was hit and killed by a car in September while riding a scooter through Dupont Circle.  Before that, Jeffrey Hammond Long, was also struck and killed in DuPont Circle while riding his bike.

Ironically, Carol Regier, his wife, shared with those present at the memorial ride during which the ghost bike was placed at the intersection, that “He was very, very interested in coming up with new ideas about how to make cycling more safe.  How to make it so cars could see the bicycles on the road better and how to get the cars to be a little more conscious of the fact that there are other people on the road.”  It is my sincere hope that this happens before there is a need for another ghost bike here in D.C., or anywhere else.

 

[Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]

Iran Freedom March

While I was sitting in my office working this morning I received a message from our security personnel advising all employees to use caution if exiting the building around 1:00pm because many of the streets in the Downtown area would be shut down by the police for a large group of people.  However, the message simply urged caution.  It contained no specific information or explanation of what was going to be happening.  So naturally I was curious enough to schedule today’s lunchtime bike ride for the same time so I could go out and see first hand what was going on.

It turned out to be the Iran Freedom March, an annual protest in which Iranian-Americans march down Pennsylvania Avenue, from 10th Street to Freedom Plaza, where members and supporters of the Organization of Iranian American Communities gather for speeches and to draw attention to their call for a regime change in Tehran and ask the U.S.  They then finish by marching the last couple of blocks to The White House, where they call on the U.S.  government to label Iran’s military and intelligence agency as terror organizations.  The group seeks an uprising in Iran and regime change to establish a democratic, secular and non-nuclear nation.

Among other speakers, Maryan Rajavi, president-elect of the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran, addressed the marchers.  In prepared remarks, she noted that the rally was held on International Women’s Day and congratulated women fighting for equality under a “misogynist regime.” She stated, “On this day, Iran and Iranians take pride in the women of Iran who have risen up and waged one of the greatest resistances of the modern era.  They have given tens of thousands of martyrs, prisoners and torture victims, and for four decades have been active on all the fields of battle.”  Rajavi then called on the U.S. State Department to designate Iran’s military, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and the Ministry of Intelligence as foreign terrorist organizations, asserting “Doing so would be a positive message to the Iranian people, and a decisive message against the clerical regime.”

It wasn’t the way I planned to spend my lunchtime today.  But those plans can wait until next week.  I’m glad I was able to observe the march, and learn more about their cause.

 

[Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]

Cherry Blossom Buds

Every year, the National Park Service, whose horticulturists care for D.C.’s famous and historic cherry trees, issues a prediction for when 70 percent of the blooms on the trees will be open.  This is known as “peak bloom.” And depending on weather conditions, peak bloom can last anywhere from four to ten days.  But it should also be noted, however, that different individual trees will still be blooming before and after the actual peak.

Yesterday the Park Service tweeted out its peak bloom prediction for 2019. This year, if all goes as planned, more than 70 percent of the blossoms on the trees around the tidal basin will flower between April 3 and April 6.  It should be noted that the prediction is subject to change as we get closer to the predicted dates.  Fluctuations in temperature and weather conditions between now and then can affect the accuracy of the prediction.  Warmer weather will lead to a faster peak bloom, and colder weather could delay it.  So the prediction is subject to being updated.  And it often is.
Last year the trees’ blossoms reached peak bloom on April 5.  And in 2017 it was on March 25.  The average peak bloom date is April 4.  So if this year’s current prediction holds steady, the peak should occur very close to the average date.  It would also fall near the middle of this year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival, which is scheduled to run from March 20th to April 14th.

On this lunchtime bike ride, I rode by the Tidal Basin (MAP), and stopped at The Indictor Tree to witness in person the beginning of the blooming process.  And I was not disappointed.  There are already green buds on the trees, which is the first stage in the blooming process.  And while they are not blooms, they are beautiful in their own way.  Many say that the beauty and brevity of the blossoms symbolizes the life, which is beautiful but brief.  In keeping with this symbolism, I think the impending blooms signaled by the green buds make the buds symbolic of the hope and promise of life.

Note:  Here are some links to past years’ posts about D.C.’s cherry blossoms:
•  Photo Gallery of this Year’s Cherry Blossoms (2018)
•  Cherry Blossom Stages of Development (2018)
•  The Indicator Tree (2018)
•  This Year’s Cherry Blossoms Watch (2017)
•  The Amur Cork Tree (2017)
•  The Japanese Pagoda at the Tidal Basin (2017)
•  Sunrise with the Cherry Blossoms (2016)
•  The Peaking of the Cherry Blossoms (2016)
•  The Annual Cherry Blossoms (2015)
•  The Cherry Blossoms Around The Tidal Basin (2014)
•  The Cherry Trees Collection at the National Arboretum (2014)

Getting “Ashes to Go” During Today’s Ride

For today’s bike ride I went out early instead of waiting for lunchtime.  It was unseasonable cold today.  And it was even colder because I went out early in the morning instead of waiting until mid-day.  But I intentionally went for an early ride so I could participate in “Ashes To Go.”

An outreach of The Church of The Epiphany, the same church that conducts the Street Church services I occasionally attend, Ashes to Go occurs annually on Ash Wednesday, which is a Christian holy day of prayer, fasting, and repentance.  It falls on the first day of Lent, a period of 46 days of penitence directly preceeding Easter.  This is done in a symbolic imitation of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting and battling with Satan in the desert, less the six Sundays during this period that are not considered part of the Lenten fast.  Ash Wednesday is observed by many Christians, including Episcopalians, Anglicans, Lutherans, Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, and some Baptists.

Ash Wednesday derives its name from the imposition of repentance ashes, often prepared by burning palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebrations, in the shape of a cross on the foreheads of participants, or sprinkled on the crown of the recipient’s head.  As the ashes are imposed, the pastor states, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel,” or the dictum  “Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.” (“Remember, man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.”)

Since 2007 some members of major Christian Churches, including Episcopalians, Anglicans, Lutherans, Catholics and Methodists, have participated in the Ashes to Go program, in which clergy go outside of their churches to public places, such as downtowns, sidewalks and train stations, even to people waiting in their cars for a stoplight to change, to distribute ashes to passersby.  An Anglican priest named Emily Mellott of Calvary Church in Lombard, Illinois, took up the idea and turned it into a movement, stating that the practice was also an act of evangelism.

As part of this movement, the Church of the Epiphany’s pastoral staff sets up in an area just outside the 13th Street exit of the Metro Center subway station (MAP), as well as on the steps of the church, to provide the ceremonial imposition of ashes to arriving commuters, believers whose schedules make it difficult to attend a scheduled service at the church, and anyone else who so desires to receive ashes as an external sign of repentance.  Again this year, this included me.  And although I can’t be certain, I think I was one of the few, if not the only participant riding a bike.

 

[Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]

An Early Retirement Gift to Myself

I recently completed thirty years of service with the Federal government and became eligible to retire.  And although I am not retiring quite yet, I decided to buy myself an anniversary gift to celebrate the milestone.  And when I saw this bike on eBay I knew what the gift to myself should be.

The newest addition to my collection of bikes is a Surly Disc Trucker.  Surly‘s Long Haul Trucker (LHT) enjoys a reputation as one of the best riding and most value-packed touring bikes out there.  It’s been around long enough to be tested in the real world, in all kinds of places, with all kinds of loads on all kinds of roads.  My 2012 Surly Disc Trucker is an LHT but upgraded with disc brakes to provide a bit more braking performance than the standard rim-brakes that the LHT provides.  Other features of this bike include:  thicker-walled and larger-diameter 4130 CroMoly steel frame tubing than standard sport-touring frames;  a longer wheelbase than you’ll find on a road or hybrid bike, making for maximum stability, comfort and responsive handling under load, and all the braze-ons you could want, from rack mounts to water bottle cage bosses to spare spoke holders.  And the componentry includes:  a Cane Creek 40, 1-1/8˝ threadless black headset;  a Shimano UN-55 square taper interface; a 68 x 118mm bottom bracket;  a Shimano Sora FD-3403 silver front derailleur and Shimano XT RD-M771 rear derailleur; an Andel RSC6, 26/36/48t. square taper interface crankset, and; a Shimano HG-50, 11/12/14/16/18/21/24/28 /32t cassette.  Finally, and with all due respect to Surly’s limited factory available colors of Super Dark Green or Blacktacular, the color of this bike has also been upgraded to custom powder-coated Hi-Vis Neon Yellow.  Combined with matching Deda bar tape and Hi-Vis yellow Ortlieb waterproof front and back panniers, the bike will be almost impossible not to see when I’m out touring.

And going on occasional long-distance bike tours is something I’m looking forward to doing after I retire.  I’ve already planned and mapped out a few different bike tours I will be doing.  One is a tour of the lighthouses of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which would involve riding from north to south down the coast, and then looping back around on the mainland and ending up back at the northern-most lighthouse again.  I also will being doing a tour of the Great Alleghany Passage and C&O Canal Towpath, a 336-mile route without any cars or motor vehicles that connects Pittsburgh with D.C.  Along the way it also allows riders to take in a number of small historic towns, state parks and other attractions along the way.  A bike tour along the lower coast of Florida on down to Key West is also on my list.

While there are plenty of other bike tours I would also like to do here in the United States, I would also like to do a bike tour across Northern Spain.  The route there is called El Camino de Santiago.  Also referred to in English as The Way of Saint James, it is a network of spiritual pilgrimages leading to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Greater in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.

It’s been a long journey to get to the point of being eligible to retire.  And I look forward to finishing this journey one day soon, so that I can start more journeys in the future.

1 – Second Place at the Prince William County Fair

This has not been a good summer for my routine lunchtime bike rides.  A combination of frequent rainy days intermixed with days of oppressive heat, compounded by being very busy at work, and topped off with an injury, prevented me from riding every day.  Hopefully, as we get past this Labor Day weekend and closer to autumn’s arrival, I will be able to go back to consistently riding every day.

However, it was a good summer nonetheless.  And one of the good things that happened this summer involved photographs I have taken in the past during my lunchtime bike rides.  I entered a few photographs in some local photo contests.  And half of them won.  I won a second and a third place in one contest, and came in first in the other contest.

One of the contests was part of the nearby Prince William County Fair, which I entered because it is the largest county fair in the state of Virginia.  I entered the maximum number allowed, five photos in five different categories (see thumbnails below).  I won second place red ribbon and two dollars prize money in the category of “Flowers”, and a third place white ribbon and one dollar in the category of “Manipulated Black and White Photograph.”  Personally, I honestly thought my photos were the best of all the ones entered in these two categories.  But there’s one positive aspect of not winning – there’s room for improvement.  So perhaps next year I will be able to win a first place blue ribbon like my youngest daughter won for her photography last year, and my oldest daughter did this year for crafts.

The other contest was sponsored by the Georgetown University Grilling Society (GUGS).  For the GUGS (the first “G” is soft, as in “genius”) Summer Photo Contest I entered one photograph.  And I won first place.  But better than a blue ribbon, I won the grand prize of a free GUGS burger (worth five dollars), and a pass to the front of the line so that I did not have to wait (which no amount of money can buy).  I claimed my prize during today’s first GUGS grill of the fall season, and enjoyed the burger for lunch today.

So from now on, you will no longer see snapshots accompanying by blog posts.  From now on, you will see photographs from an award-winning photographer.

Prince William County Fair Photo Contest

    3     4

5     6     7

2 – Second Place at the Prince William County Fair
3 – Entered in the “Cityscapes” category, and captioned “Urban Reflection”.
4 – Entered in the “People and Animals” category, and captioned “Country Girl Visits the City”.
5 – Entered in the “Photos From Last Year’s Fair” category, and captioned “Girl in Butterfly Tent Looking for a Butterfly”.
6 – Entered in the “Flowers” category, and captioned “Half and Half”
7 – Entered in the “Manipulated Black and White Photo” category, and captioned “Unfaded Glory”.
GUGS Summer Photo Contest

    9

8 – Entered in the GUGS Summer Photo Contest, and captioned, “As I left the last grill this past Spring, there was a sadness in my heart knowing that it would be months until the next grill. And through my tears, as I happened to glance upward through the trees, God shone a light down through the smoke from the grill as if to say, “It’s going to be okay.” This photo captures that moment. A moment that represents what I love about GUGS Friday grills – everything.”
9  – My prize for coming in first place in the GUGS Summer Photo Contest – this burger and a pass to skip to the front of the line.

[Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]

Today is Flag Day, and in recognition of that designation I took some of the photos I’ve taken during my lunchtime bike rides, 76 of them, in fact, and set them to music to make the above slideshow.

In the United States, Flag Day is celebrated on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on June 14, 1777, by resolution of the Second Continental Congress.  But the first Flag Day was not celebrated for another 108 years. until in 1885 a 19-year-old school teacher in Fredonia, Wisconsin, named Bernard J. Cigrand placed a 38-inch star flag in a bottle on his desk to observe the “flag birthday,” and gave his students an assignment to write essays about the flag and its significance.  After that, Cigrand enthusiastically advocated for several years in numerous magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses the observance of June 14 as “Flag Birthday”, or “Flag Day”.  For his efforts, Cigrand generally is credited with being the “Father of Flag Day.”

It took another 31 years, until 1916, for President Woodrow Wilson to issue a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day.  Finally, in August 1946, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress.  Flag Day is still not an official Federal holiday, however.  Neither is it a state holiday outside of Pennsylvania and New York. Furthermore, New York’s official observance of Flag Day isn’t June 14, but rather the second Sunday in June.

Since its inception there have been 27 official versions what many fondly call the “Stars and Stripes” , starting with the first one in 1777 which displayed 13 stripes and 13 stars (for the 13 original colonies). When Kentucky and Vermont joined the union, the flag took on two more stars, so that from 1795 to 1818, 15 stripes and 15 stars graced the flag. It was this version of the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to compose “The Star-Spangled Banner,” during the battle at Fort McHenry.  For a while, the U.S. added stripes and stars to the flag when welcoming new states. At one point, the flag has 15 stripes and 15 stars. But n 1818, as the country continued to add new states, lawmakers, anticipating a crowded field of stripes, decided to honor each new state with a star, and leave the stripes at 13. Today the flag has 50 stars for the 50 states, and the designated 13 stripes.

There are Federal regulations governing the handling and display of the flag, referred to as the U.S. Flag Code, including restrictions on using the flag’s likeness for advertising, or printing it on anything intended “for temporary use or discard,” like cocktail napkins or paper plates. Under the Flag Protection Act of 1989, there are also Federal laws that call for criminal penalties for certain forms of flag desecration, although the Supreme Court found this act to be unconstitutional under the First Amendment in 1990.

Not surprisingly, there are a lot of surprising and interesting facts surrounding the Stars and Stripes. And many of those facts are not found in history books. The following are some examples.

  • A 17-year old student named Robert G. Heft designed the flag as it currently appears today as part of a project for his history class.  He received a grade of B- for the project. He later submitted it to Congress for consideration, and in August of 1959 President Dwight D. Eisenhower chose Heft’s design over 1,500 other applicants. His teacher subsequently changed his grade to an A.
  • According to the U.S. Department of State, the names of the flag’s official colors are “old glory red,” “white,” and “old glory blue.” “White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness and valor, and Blue, the color of the Chief, signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice.”
  • Old Glory was actually the nickname of a specific U.S. Flag, namely, the one owned by sea captain William Driver. He was previously given the flag by the women in his hometown of Salem, Massachusetts, but he only named it Old Glory upon seeing it flying on his ship’s mast in 1831. The name later went on to become synonymous with any American flag.
  • In July 1969, Neil Armstrong placed the first American flag on the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission, the first manned landing. Five more Apollo moon landings—from missions 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17—resulted in five more flags being planted on the lunar surface. Despite the harsh temperatures and conditions of the moon’s atmosphere, five of the six flags that were planted during the Apollo missions are still standing. According to Buzz Aldrin, the one that fell was blown over by the exhaust from Apollo 11 during its liftoff from the moon’s surface.
  • Richard Williams, the animation director for the movie entitled “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” said that he modeled the title character’s colors after the American flag. Roger Rabbit dons red overalls, has white fur, and wears a blue tie. “It looked like an American flag — subliminally speaking — so everybody liked it,” stated Williams.
  • Karen Burke of Walmart’s Corporate Communications revealed that Walmart stores sold around 115,000 American flags on September 11, 2001, as compared to 6,400 flags on the same date in 2000. In the year following 9/11 (September 11, 2001, through August 19, 2011), they sold 7.8 million American flags as compared to 2.5 million the year before.
  • During the opening sequence, at about 22 seconds in, of first-season episodes of “Gilligan’s Island,” the U.S. Flag can be seen flying at half-staff off in the distance. According to a 1994 audio book co-authored by Russell Johnson, who played the Professor, this is because the show’s pilot episode finished filming on November 22, 1963 — the same day President Kennedy was assassinated.
  • Lastly and most assuredly bigly, our current President, Donald Trump, was born on Flag Day in 1946.

Today’s Capitals’ Victory Parade and Rally

With the Washington Capitals winning their first Stanley Cup in franchise history last week, D.C. celebrated its first major sports championship in 26 years with a victory parade today. It all began with truly fanatical fans congregating near the parade’s stage before 4:00am, a full seven hours before it was scheduled to begin. As the morning progressed, Metro stations and downtown streets were clogged with fans clad in red. And by 8:30am thousands had already lined the parade route, although the start of the parade was still more than two hours away.

The parade finally kicked off at 11:00 a.m., starting at the intersection of Constitution Avenue and 17th Street (MAP) near The Washington Monument, and proceeding east along Constitution Avenue to Seventh Street. There it turned right, where it culminated with a rally on the National Mall (MAP).

During the away games throughout the Stanley Cup finals series, thousands of people packed the streets around the Capital One Arena in downtown D.C. for watch parties. And when the Caps actually won the cup, police said they dealt with a mostly peaceful crowd. In fact, not one person had to be arrested. But it was difficult to predict what today’s celebration would be like because there was a big unknown factor when it came to today’s parade and rally. And that was the size of the crowd which would show up.

D.C. is certainly no stranger when it comes to hosting parades and marches. Hundreds of thousands of people attended the March for Our Lives on the National Mall earlier this year. But it’s been awhile since the city hosted a victory parade.

A massive crowd of more than 600,000 fans showed up for the Washington Redskins’ Super Bowl XXII victory parade in 1988. That prompted the D.C. police to limit the size of subsequent celebrations. So in 1992, when the Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI and held a victory rally on the National Mall, a more moderate yet respectable crowd of 75,000 people showed up. And in 1997, when the D.C. United won the Major League Soccer title, there was a nine-block parade along Pennsylvania Avenue. The Washington Post said “several hundred” people showed up for that parade and described the crowd as “small, but enthusiastic.”

But with different variables and unknown factors, such as it being the city’s first National Hockey League championship, the parade being held on a weekday when many people had to be at work, and whether yesterday’s rain would stop in time for the rally, it was a matter of wait and see when it came to the crowd size and what would happen.

Eventually a crowd estimated at around 100,000 people (100,001 if you include me) showed up to line the parade route and “Rock the Red” in support of the Stanley Cup champions, and watch the procession led from the rear by team captain and future hall of famer Alexander Ovechkin, who was atop a double-decker, open-top bus holding the Stanley Cup aloft for all to see. He was preceded by marching bands, Mayor Muriel Bowser and other officials, a Clydesdales-drawn Budweiser beer wagon, his teammates, and even a Zamboni.

We then proceeded to the rally which, like at the watch parties, was mostly peaceful. But it was not subdued by any means. There were a number of short speeches, including team owner Ted Leonsis, Head Coach Barry Trotz, and each of the players. One of the more memorable comments came from right winger Nicklas Backstrom, who proclaimed, “Finally, we started playing hockey like we can party.” The rally ended with a sing-along of Queen’s song “We are the Champions,” led by Alex Ovechkin. All in all it was a fitting celebration to an historic season for the franchise and for the city.

So now it’s up to the Washington Nationals. If they can keep playing well through the summer, who knows? We may be having another victory parade here in D.C. around the end or October of beginning of November.

        

          
[Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]

Note:  While the celebration was going on here in D.C., a full page ad, bought by the Capitals, was running in a Las Vegas newspaper to congratulate the Vegas Golden Knights, who they defeated last week for the Stanley Cup, on having such an outstanding season.

The ad reads, “Congratulations to the Vegas Golden Knights on the most successful inaugural season in the history of professional sports. World class ownership, front office, coaching staff and people. A magnificent team of talented, hard-working players and stars. A fantastic venue filled with passionate, loud and proud fans. It was an honor to compete against you in the Stanley Cup Final. You are truly VEGAS STRONG.”

Now that’s #CapsClass.