Friday, February 22, 2008

A Stone's Throw

George Washington is a big deal in Fredericksburg. He was born at Popes Creek Plantation on the Potomac River east of Fredericksburg, but spent most of his youth at Ferry Farm (just over the Chatham Bridge in Stafford), where his family moved when he was six. And his mother and his sister continued to live in Fredericksburg long after George moved away (check out Kenmore and the Mary Washington House). So his birthday is probably celebrated with a little more gusto in Fredericksburg than almost anywhere else. Three days of events last weekend included breakfast with George at Ferry Farm on Saturday morning, tea with George and his sister Betty at Kenmore on Sunday, and an open house with children’s activities at Ferry Farm on Monday. But the one event we managed to get to was the “Stone Throw Challenge” at City Dock on Saturday afternoon.

Although the story about George chopping down a cherry tree is just a figment of an imaginative biographer, the story that he could throw a silver dollar across the Rappahannock (not the much wider Potomac) is more plausible. So in commemoration of the possibility that he had a good arm, kids (and a few adults, too) lined up at the dock on Saturday with the hope of duplicating his deed. Anyone 18 or under who succeeded would get a $100 savings bond, and bragging rights for the rest of their lives, I’d imagine. Last year’s event was cancelled due to bad weather, but the year before, 16-year old Sam Griebel, a James Monroe High School baseball player, was a winner. This year, no such luck. But George himself showed up (accompanied by his colonial entourage), many respectable throws made it more than halfway across the river, and a fine time was had by all.

Despite the fact that you might have had this past Monday off, oldsters like me remember when we used to celebrate Washington’s birthday on the actual date, February 22. So tomorrow, tip your hat to old George in honor of his 276th birthday.

The scene:

The ammunition:

The warm-up:

George throws out the first pitch:

A good effort:

George's posse:

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