Glen Echo's Family Day is Full of Family Fun

02 May
May 2, 2013

Summer is quickly approaching, and as it does, parents will need to find myriad ways to keep their children entertained over the next several months.

Luckily, when the weather is warm in this area, there is never a shortage of things to do. Although 90 days is daunting, this year’s options are off to a swell start, with this weekend hosting one of the most family friendly activities Washington, D.C. has to offer.

On Saturday, May 4, Glen Echo Park holds its annual Family Day, which marks the official annual opening day  of their main attraction: the Dentzel Carousel.

Glen Echo Park is one of the best tucked away treasures in Maryland, nestled up against the Potomac River on one side and the Capital Beltway on the other. The location began as an assembly location for an education group in the early 1890s, but it soon morphed into an amusement park serving the greater Washington, D.C. area. With its signature carousel, built in 1921, as well as a swimming pool, arcade hall and bumper cars, Glen Echo was one of the city’s most popular weekend destinations. In 1968, after seeing dwindling attendance, the park was closed.

It wasn’t shuttered to the public for long. In 1971, Glen Echo reopened under control of the National Park Service, the highlight still the Dentzel Carousel. Just a decade ago, the NPS finished a 20-year long restoration, and it is now back to its original glory. Which is why the opening of it each year is such a big deal.

It hasn’t spun around since September 2012, but that changes this Saturday morning. The carousel won’t be the only way to keep your kids entertained if you visit Family Day. There are numerous acts throughout the day. They are diverse in nature and aren’t just purely to please. They are also  excellent educational opportunities.

Among those activities is an event with Diane Macklin, who performs a Zimbabwean style of storytelling. She will be regaling young ones with African folktales. There will be sing-a-longs for kids who want to do a little shouting, led by Brooksie Wells, who was at last year’s carousel opening. Keeping with the international flair of the day, there will be Taiko drumming, led by Mark Rooney. Taiko is a blend of Japanese rhythmic drumming and chanting that should keep children enthralled. There will also be several different dance troupes, from ballet to traditional Irish dancers.

And of course, what would any day festival be without a magic show. Two different magicians will be there to amaze adults and children alike. Also available will be face-painting and arts and crafts.

Alongside Family Day, the rest of Glen Echo Park will be open for your enjoyment. The festival runs from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is completely free to attend. The only cost are rides on the Dentzel Carousel. But those are only a $1.25, almost as cheap as they were when it first opened in 1921.

Which is a small price to pay for a Saturday full of family fun.

- David

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