On Saturday, August 24th, the National Mall and Memorial Parks coordinated with the National Action Network and a number of other non-profit organizations to support the 50th anniversary March on Washington – Realize the Dream March and Rally.
The rally began around 8:00 a.m. and ran till 1:00 p.m., with a number of speakers from a broad range of organizations. The speakers ranged in age from grade school students to those who were leaders or participants in the march in 1963, including Georgia Congressman John Lewis and Reverend Al Sharpton.
This event was attended by tens of thousands of people from around the country who wanted to be part of this historic occasion. An event of this magnitude brought out over 70 park staff from every division and additional staff support from other national parks, including Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site, National Capital Parks East, Rock Creek National Park, Wolf Trap Park of the Performing Arts, Everglades National Park, Manassas National Battlefield and National Capital Region. In addition to staff, 100 park volunteers came out to help make this a memorable day for all.
“The National Park Service and our partners have been working for some time to ensure that our visitors have the opportunity to commemorate this important historical event,” said Bob Vogel, superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks.
Logistics were a significant challenge for park and park police staff throughout the day. A total of 600 buses and metro ridership of 178,000 brought this huge crowd of participants. Crowds lined each side of the reflecting pool from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument. In spite of the large crowds, there were no serious incidents and those in attendance expressed appreciation and inspiration at being part of this historic commemoration.