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>> KIDS CAN GET SWORN IN AT GEORGE WASHINGTON'S HISTORIC HOME
Inaugural Day Festivities at Mount Vernon

 Children get some firsthand inauguration experience at Mount Vernon--from none other than George Washington.
Mount Vernon Ladies' Association
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Date published: 1/17/2013

BY JESSE SCOTT

FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR

All of the future Mr. and Mrs. Presidents out there can get some quality practice starting today.

What better place to start rehearsing the oath and brushing up on presidential history than George Washington's home, Mount Vernon?

Mount Vernon kicks off its inauguration activities today at 9 a.m. The festivities, which are included in the estate's general admission, run through January 22.

"This is the first time that we've offered inauguration activities for our younger visitors," said Melissa Wood, spokeswoman for Mount Vernon. "Inside our mansion, kids usually can't touch anything. This is a great way for them to get outside and really get hands-on and burn some energy."

While the interior of the Mount Vernon estate is kept true to 1799, the beautiful grounds of George Washington's home have been transformed into a modern-day educational experience. The main attraction is a "George Washington Presidential Scavenger Hunt," which takes attendees throughout the complex's mansion, museum and education center.

Much like the inauguration itself, the hunt is full of secrets and surprises.

"We've created a special map where kids can explore the entire grounds," said Wood. "At the end, if they've found everything that they've needed to, they will get a special prize. We can't tell you what that is, it's a secret."

In addition to the hunt, Mount Vernon visitors can put their hand on the Bible and take the oath of office verbatim. There is even a roar of applause for those who make it through.

"We have an automated system that gives a big round of applause once someone is done taking the oath," said Wood. "It's a lot of fun."

Additionally, the Mount Vernon inauguration display features the actual brown suit that George Washington wore during his inauguration (yes, it was made in America) and fragments of the original draft of Washington's inauguration speech.

"We do have fragments of the original draft, before it was made much shorter," said Wood. "A gentleman cut up the speech and we were one of the recipients. It is a true piece of history."

The inauguration of our current president comes at a time when things are much more certain, structurally, for our nation. Washington's inauguration came at a time where the foundation of the United States was still being laid and the framework of our country was being built from scratch.

"Washington was candid and understandably anxious about what would happen to our country," said Wood. "It was a different mood and a different excitement at that time--it was a new experiment and they weren't quite sure what would happen."

Fortunately, Washington's experiment paid off and there have been many inaugurations since.

Each one brings its own unique flair to our nation's history.

"It's a ceremony that's deep in tradition, a tradition created by George Washington," said Wood.

"It's exciting to learn about everything involved with this event and the man behind it."


What: Inauguration Activities at Mount Vernon Where: George Washington's Mount Vernon When: Jan. 17-22; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost: Included with admission; adults, $17; ages 6-11, $8; under age 5, free Info: 703/708-2000; mountvernon.org