September 2011


October 1, 2011

By Sharon Bosworth

President Obama’s Visit

Barracks Row Fall Festival Set For September 24

It’s easy to forget fiery August days once near perfect September weather begins. At Barracks Row Main Street we’re focused on September 24 when we host Barracks Row Fall Festival on Capitol Hill. But before we tear out the August calendar page, go back to the week of August 8th when our corridor played host to two distinguished visitors. Monday, August 8, Mayor Vincent Gray proclaimed August Sidewalk Café Month at a ceremony and tour beginning at The Chesapeake Room, 501 8th Street, SE.  Then, later that week on, August 10, an unexpected scene unfolded on Barracks Row which many vacationing residents missed.

Police taped off 8th Street, SE, between E and G Streets: no vehicular allowed and west side pedestrian traffic was detoured. Crowds began forming. Hill natives able to read subtle signals interpreted the situation: a visitor from the White House would arrive soon.  But, which visitor? Vice President Biden? The First Lady? The President, himself?

Black SUV’s with tinted windows arrived, taking up positions behind police tape. Men-in-black sharpshooters were positioned on the roof of Ted’s Bulletin, 505 8th Street, SE. Motorcycle police roared in blocking off E Street between 7th and 8th Street, SE.  A black van pulled up: out erupted reporters and cameramen heading for Ted’s Bulletin.

Around noon, two limousines with sirened motorcycle escorts turned on to Barracks Row, the doors emblazoned with the Presidential Seal.  Although the windows were tinted, there in the back seat of the second limo was President Obama waving at us! Huge cheers rose up as the limos quickly turned down 7th Street, then up the alley behind Ted’s Bulletin. Tents erected at Ted’s back door provided cover and President Obama went inside for lunch. For details on the presidential luncheon see Celeste McCall’s coverage in this issue.
Barracks Row Fall Festival on Capitol Hill: Saturday, September 24
Everyone, including the Obama family, has now returned to Washington.  Labor Day celebrations ring out summer and ring in fall.  As you make autumn plans, circle September 24th, the first Saturday in fall, the 10th Anniversary of Barracks Row Fall Festival on Capitol Hill.  Festival favorites from past years will return and new activities are planned. The petting zoo is back; city kids can once again meet real farm animals, right on 8th Street, SE. This year an expanded section of the festival is devoted to kids’ activities. At National Community Church, 535 8th Street, SE, vintage Mickey Mouse cartoons will run for parents and kids who need a quick break before going back for more face painting, henna tattoo, sno-cone, cotton candy, juggler and clown action. But before you duck into the movies, take in the live sword fight scenes up the block compliments of William Shakespeare and actors from The Shakespeare Theatre, 516 8th Street.

Knife skills will be on view at The Military Chef’s Competition which takes place every year at the festival. The Chef’s Cook-Off, conducted in tents set up at the gates to Marine Barracks Washington, begins at 7am, hours before the festival officially begins.  Each branch of the service, plus the White House, sends chef teams to compete in a black box competition. The lightening round begins mid afternoon; the winners takes home the trophy as Top Chefs in the United States Military

The Redskins cheerleaders are returning, too. At Barracks Row Fall Festival fans can meet the glamour side of the NFL, and watch pro football style cheering routines.  Today’s cheerleaders are the newest members of the longest running professional National Football League cheerleading organization founded in 1962 as the Redskinettes. The cheerleaders will be their booth on the midway where you can speak with them and get autographs.
Full Support from the United States Marine Corps
Our United States Marine Corps neighbors once again have offered full support for the Barracks Row Fall Festival with Marine Corps volunteers helping with set up and tear down. During the festival Commandant and Mrs. James Amos are inviting us in: the newly renovated Home of the Commandants is open for hourly docent-led tours. Colonel Paul Montanus, Commander of Marine Barracks Washington will open the 2011 festival along with Tip Tipton, president of Barracks Row Main Street. The Washington National’s Presidential Bobble Heads, George and Tom will join us, too, before they leave for National’s ball park to root for the home team at the afternoon game against the Atlanta Braves, the last home game of the season. Buy game tickets at our Barracks Row Main Street booth.

The renowned Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon is scheduled to perform later in the afternoon. With no audible cues, these Marines synchronize split second rifle and drill maneuvers. Every year the SDP is a show stopper. Fair- goers watch spell bound as the team executes air-borne bayoneted-rifle flourishes. The festival goes quiet for one instant at the close of the breathtaking, close range performance, then bursts into applause as the platoon quietly marches in perfect step up G Street, vanishing into the base.

Ever wondered what goes on behind the brick walls of the base? Find out. Marine Barracks Washington is open for docent-led tours. Chesty, the Marine Corps Bulldog mascot will be taking walks down the midway, wearing his one-of-a-kind uniform giving anyone wanting pictures with Chesty, a perfect photo op.

Live Big Band and DC Roller Girls
New activities this year include Swing dancing on the midway. Live Big Band music begins on stage in early afternoon. Dance instructors will be on hand to coach those of us who weren’t around to learn Swing back in the day. Find a partner and give it a try with the intersection of 8th and G Street as your dance floor. Then grab a seat at nearby restaurant patio: you’ll have great views of the dancing from Lavagna Italian Cuisine, 539 8th Street, SE, and Molly Malone’s, 713 8th Street, SE.

Back for their second year with the Fall Festival, The Trapeze School of New York will perform their Silks routines on an apparatus set up near Nooshi Sushi and Tash, (opening soon) at 524 8th Street. This act was created by the acrobatic troupe of TSNY.  Twelve to twenty five feet in the air, they hold stunning formations, involving one, two or three performers supported by flowing bands of silk- like fabric. The patios of Cava Mezze, 527 8th Street, SE, Matchbox, 521 8th Street, SE, Las Placitas, 517, 8th Street SE,provide ring side seats for this all day show.  For more drama, catch the Mussel Throwdown at Belga Café, 514 8th Street, SE.  Belga’s patio will be extended, an ideal spot to watch the Silks aerial act while determining the tastiest mussels from local DC’s chefs.

Back on the surface of 8th Street, you’ll meet a group of dazzling newcomers who make cement sing: The DC Roller Girls. At their first ever visit to our Fall Festival they will be showing off their skating prowess along 8th Street from 12 noon until 5 p.m. We hear the Roller Girls may challenge the Marines from the Pull-Up Booth to an arm wrestling contest, but that’s only a rumor.  Just remember, whoever wins, what goes on at the festival, stays at the festival!

For timeline of Barracks Row Fall Festival events go to