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We celebrate our 75th!

October 22, 2016

From early morning, 28 volunteers were busy. Youth included Diego Vargas, Madaly Vargas, Javier Musun, Olivia Pope, Elise Pope, Vaughn Ward, Yaritiza Pedroza, Zaniah Rivers, Zamarriah Rivers, Esmeral-da Herrera, Fatima Herrera, Gemma Herrera, Jakayla Kirkland, McKenzie Nedd, Jovaughn Johnson, Nurdeen Alexander, Stanley Iwah, Peter Iwah, Melvin Johnson, Mohr Family, Fulvia Guerra and children, Rebekah Rowe, Miara Dantzler, Chelsie Ihuoma, and Victor Gil. By 10:30, marchers were gathering at the top of Garrison Road at 78th Avenue. Lan Tsubata and Michael Driggers arranged the order of the parade. Kensei Tsubata set up mi-crophone and speaker for at the triangle at Frederick Road, and Lan announced each of the participating groups as they passed.


A pair of motorcycle officers from the Sheriff’s Department rode first, followed by the banner pro-claiming “West Lanham Hills Day,” carried by some of the young women of our community. Then came the West Lanham Hills Volunteer Fire Department with three trucks, using sirens and lights. Following them were neighborhood children carrying a balloon “caterpillar,” accompanied by Sheriff Melvin High, then Joe Mohrin his Park Ranger uniform. Next, was the Parkdale High School Marching Band. Then came the “Flags of the Nations”—neighbors wearing the costumes and waving the flags of their respective nations of origin. Longtime neighbor, Freda Gastrock, and her son, Ronald, rode as honorary marshals. Neighbor Charlotte Harris joined as a co-marshal at the opening ceremony.Then came our elected officials: State Senator Victor Ramirez, State Delegates Diana Fennell, Jimmy Tar-lau, and Malcolm Augustine. Unable to attend was County Councilwoman Dannielle Glaros, who nevertheless sent a proclamation for the 75th Anniversary edition of our community directory. The Tripp Family followedin their iconic “Blue Bus” representing Woodlawn Baptist Bus Ministry, decorated with congratulatory signs. Mounted Parks and Recreation Police followed on horseback . WSSC’s amphibious boat was also there, and neighbor James Poindexter rode horses of the Ritchie Upper Marlboro Stables.


Neighbors followed the parade all the way to the park, gathering in the building where the balloon arch stood before the display of DJ Emmanuel Rodriguez. There, 75-year-resident Freda Gastrock and 60-year resi-dent Charlotte Harris cut the ribbon, while Senator Ramirez read out the proclamation congratulating the community for 75 years of volunteerism, civic engagement and self-reliance, and Delegates Fennell and Tarlau added their own words of tribute.


The many activities included both indoor and outdoor options. Children enjoyed the bouncy house, ring toss, bean toss, and giant checkerboard, manned by Rebekah Rowe. Soccer competition, led by Oscar Romero,was a big hit for many energetic young people. Parks and Planning provided the roller skate truck, the mounted unit, exhibits and personnel.


The exhibit of the history of West Lanham Hills included a large display, while a video of the variousphotos and events of the 75 year history played continually throughout the day. Original documents and artifacts were there to be examined, and all day long, residents were gathered around, reminiscing and marveling at the story of our community. A special edition of the directory incorporated an historic narrative and numerous photos.


Food was coordinated by Wanda Brooks, barbecued by Greg McNair, and served by Ina McNair, Janice Brock, Olivia Pope, and other volunteers. The Tripp family served shaved ice confections, “snow cones.” Six different cakes, festooned with various messages, were also served. Cotton Gourmet contributed pastries and Kim Poindexter made a scrumptious banana pudding desert. We were really grateful to the Family Pancake house for donating burgers and franks, letting us serve our residents and all the guests who helped us celebrate.


Wanda also created “passports” which the guests could get stamped by each of the exhibitors, redeeming the fully stamped passport for a prize. Exhibitors included businesses, such as Cricket, Solar City, and Giant as well as public agencies, including WSSC, Pepco, Department of Inspection and Permitting, and Homeland Security. Joe Mohr also exhibited materials about the Junior Ranger Program.


Prizes that were won or raffled off were given by local business of gift cards from IHOP, Starbucks and Chipotle; electronics from Cricket; tool boxes from Lowes; huge potted chrysanthemums from the Hampton Nursery, and snacks from CVS. Other prizes included toys, movie tickets, t-shirts, and balloons. Residents enjoyed dancing with a very energetic Zumba instructor, Cierra , and also to the great tunes supplied by DJ Emmanuel Rodriguez, sponsored by our neighbor, Arturo Pedroza.


Kids enjoyed the basketball dunking contest lead by Greg Carter and team, an intense tug-of-war battle, and the exciting performance of a wonderful magician, Capaso Casino, who patiently twisted dozens of balloon creations even up until the end of the event.


Thanks for the event must include the coordinators, SunJae and Mie Smith, and Parade Coordinator Lan Tsubata, as well as the amazing committee members: Wanda Brooks, Kay Rager, Michael and Dorothy Driggers, Kim and James Poindexter and family, Sarah and Kensei Tsubata, Lance and Edith Easley, the Rowe family, Oscar Romero, Greg Carter, and Kate and Kazuo Tsubata.


A video was created of the highlights of the day, and it was shown at the Citizen’s Association monthly meeting on Wednesday, November 2 at 8 p.m. Also, the history video is available to those interested in having a keepsake edition. Information will be available on the 75th part of the website.


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