Visitors and park staff kicked up their heels at Prince William Forest Park’s “75 Candles Anniversary Dance” on Saturday, November 12th. The big band dance was the perfect ending to a year of special events commemorating the creation of the park in 1936.
The dance featured the music of The Yesterday Swing Orchestra playing the classic sounds of Glen Miller, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw and others. Guests and park staff danced through the evening, joined by members of local dance clubs. The event took place in a historic theatre built by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in the 1940s. Staff and visitors arrived on the red carpet dressed in period attire reflective of the 1930s and 40s.
During a short break in the music, Superintendent Vidal Martinez received a donation for the park’s curatorial collection. Former OSS member and CIA charter member Art Reinhart presented his recently awarded OSS Society Distinguished Service Award to the park. The bronze statuette of OSS founder General William J. Donovan will be displayed the park visitor center.
The dance truly captured the feeling of the times during which the park was created. Prince William Forest Park was established as the Chopawamsic Recreational Demonstration Area (RDA) by Executive Order 7496, November 14, 1936. Chopawamsic RDA was the model for the New Deal era program that created recreation areas for urban populations. In 1948, Public Law 80-736 changed Chopawamsic National Capital Park to Prince William Forest Park.