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50th birthday party planned for Mount Vernon Trail

The Mount Vernon Trail is turning 50 and local organizations are planning to celebrate with a birthday party in Alexandria this weekend.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, April 16, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Daingerfield Island (1 Marina Drive). The birthday party will feature a short ceremony, a scavenger hunt for kids, and giveaways. There will also be information on volunteer opportunities along the trail. The party is free and open to the public.

The event is a partnership between the City of Alexandria, Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA), Walk/Bike Arlington and East Coast Greenway.

According to the event website:

On April 15, 1972, the first 4.5-mile stretch of the Mount Vernon Trail opened to the public. The gravel path ran from Belle Haven in Alexandria to the Memorial Bridge in Arlington and was the brainchild of two Alexandria women, Ellen Pickering and Barbara Lynch. In 1971, the two gathered over 700 signatures on a petition to create a trail alongside the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The National Park Service was sympathetic to the plea and agreed to provide the right-of-way, gravel, and tools if Pickering and Lynch could provide volunteers to do the work. So Pickering and Lynch organized 40 volunteers, and every Saturday that winter they spread gravel. In total, 400 recruits spread 4,200 tons of gravel, contributing 5,300 hours of labor to start the trail that would become a vital recreational and transportation corridor in the region.

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