Germantown turns 329 1/2 years old this week

On Saturday, Germantown will be exactly six months shy of its 330th birthday, and the Friends of Vernon Park, along with several other local partners, are going to make sure it’s done right.

YahNé Ndgo Baker, who coordinates events for Friends of Vernon Park, is looking forward to the Countdown to Germantown Day party in Vernon Park on Saturday because too few people are aware of just how far back the neighborhood’s history stretches.

“The main thing is that Germantown is turning 330 years old,” she said. “Think about that in relation to how old the country is.”

Baker said she hopes the event will make locals better aware of that history, and build more community pride as Germantown gets ready for the October celebration of its 1683 founding.

The celebratory idea

Baker and her collaborators settled on a Countdown to Germantown Day theme when the Friends of Vernon Park received a grant from the Fairmount Park Conservancy for a spring event, and realized that April 6 was exactly six months away from the 330th anniversary.

With sponsors including the Germantown Artists Roundtable, Citibank and Historic Germantown, Saturday’s event will run from 1 until 5 p.m. (with a Sunday rain date if necessary).

It will include scaled-down representations of all of Germantown’s historic properties, which residents can explore without leaving the park, kids’ activities, art-making, music, poetry and spoken-word performances and an open Germantown Community Quilt project.

Baker said she hopes Saturday’s event will also impact locals’ perceptions of the park itself.

“We’ve got this awesome and wonderful and beautiful park and people are afraid to walk in it, and they have no idea how well it’s been redeveloped,” she said.

“I really think that Germantown deserves national attention,” Baker continued, hoping that a proper observance of this anniversary will help put Germantown on the map of history buffs across the country, so its 340th and 350th birthdays will be treated like “it’s a national celebration.”

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