Originally Americans celebrated the birth of the nation’s first president, George Washington, on February 22. Presidents Day became the law of the land in 1968 when the Uniform Monday Holiday bill was passed by Congress. While this move was made so that most federal holidays fell on Mondays and commerce got a boost, here are a few ways to celebrate all presidents by doing more than shopping.
President James K. Polk Memorial
308 South Polk St.
Pineville, NC 28134
Take the family on a field trip to visit the President James K. Polk Memorial. The life story of President Polk, born in Mecklenburg County, is told in part through structures true to the period when he lived. While not remnants of Polk’s lifetime, the log cabin and outside kitchen are realistic in design and decor. There are exhibits that tell of Polk’s presidency and his significant accomplishments. This journey could inspire a young Mecklenburg County resident to aspire to the presidency some day.
Levine Museum Of The New South
200 E 7th St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
“Fighting for Democracy: Who is the ‘We’ in ‘We, the People?’” will run until July 2013. Provided by the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy in Los Angeles, this traveling exhibit provides the perspectives of seven people whose lives were impacted by World War II. True stories depict how they dealt with stones in their pathways to freedom. Issues surrounding basic tenets of our democracy are food for thought. Visitors of all ages will be informed and inspired.
Beech Mountain Resort
1007 Beech Mountain Parkway
Beech Mountain, NC 28604
History students will recall Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas Night, 1776, during a brutal winter. Beech Mountain skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels could relate to the chilly winds and snow braved by “the Father of Our Country”, but in happier circumstances. This ski resort provides lessons for novices and gear rentals are available. Friendly contest events are part of the program and the upcoming “Totally Retro 80s weekend” is slated for Feb. 22. Pursue life, liberty and happiness at beautiful Beech Mountain.
The Presidential Culinary Museum
301 Cleveland Ave.
Grover, NC 28073
Housed at the Inn of the Patriots, the Presidential Culinary Museum is a short drive from Charlotte. Attractions include White House memorabilia, a gift shop where replicas of china patterns used by former first ladies may be purchased for your home and family and pet-friendly accommodations. Senior curator Martin C. J. Mongiello, aka “Chef Marti,” provides exhibit materials collected during his service as an Executive chef to US Presidents. Cooking classes are offered by the cadre of chefs at the Inn. Catch Chef Marti on WBTV midday today as he demonstrates a recipe for “Chi-dogs”, Chicago style hot dogs, a favorite of Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama. Chef Marti also shares the story of King George VI’s visit to the United States, when he was served hot dogs and beer by President and Mrs. Roosevelt in 1939.
Blumenthal Performing Arts Center
130 N Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
Hours: Feb. 25 to Feb. 26 – 7:30p.m.
In this case, the Black President refers to a different type of leader with African origins, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Spend Presidents Day listening and moving to “Best of the Black President”, a two-disc release of the remastered recordings of the late Nigerian artist whose middle name means “he who carries death in his pouch.” Born into a family of educators, doctors and lawyers, bad boy Fela followed his musical muse, influenced by, among others, the sounds of Soul Brother Number One, James Brown. His lyrics were uncompromisingly critical of the military government, and he paid the price for any political aspirations with frequent raids by soldiers on his compound in Lagos. The Tony Award winning multi-media production now touring the U.S. was produced on Broadway by Will and Jada Smith, and Jay Z. In the words of George Washington, “I cannot tell a lie:” this show is not to be missed.
Jacquelin Celeste Peters has produced award winning radio programs at WPFW Pacifica-Washington. She is a Culture and Events Examiner in Charlotte, North Carolina, which she calls home. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.