- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 30, 2005

D.C. tourism officials will turn to the city’s past next summer with exhibits and activities highlighting American achievements and original works.

Washington, D.C., Celebrates American Originals begins Memorial Day and coincides with the July 4 reopening of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery, both of which have been closed since January 2000 for renovations.

The tourism initiative is sponsored by the Washington, DC Convention & Tourism Corp., Cultural Tourism DC and the American Experience Foundation.

The program will include a Capital Fringe festival of the alternative arts scene, featuring street performances, theater shows and poetry demonstrations. The festival, to be held in the Penn Quarter neighborhood, will span 10 days in July.

“The reopening of these two major museums, plus cutting-edge new events like the Capital Fringe Festival, gives us a prime opportunity to invite visitors to experience the energy of our thriving capital,” said Angela D. Fox, executive director and chief executive officer of Cultural Tourism DC.

Eyewitness accounts of historic events, most of which have never been on public display, will be part of the program.

For example, visitors to the National Archives will be able to read 25 firsthand accounts, including Thomas Jefferson’s July 19, 1789, letter from Paris about the start of the French Revolution, Lady Bird Johnson’s audio account of the events surrounding President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas in 1963, and a White House butler’s description of a social event at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in the 1930s.

Hotels and restaurants will offer packages tying into the American Originals theme, said William A. Hanbury, president and chief executive officer of the Washington, DC Convention & Tourism Corp.

The tourism organization will provide $500,000 to advertise the program in New York, Philadelphia, Virginia Beach, Norfolk and the Carolinas.

More information and hotel packages will be available at americanoriginals.com in March.

In other news …

• The Washington area is going to have some more snazzy pooches as Happy Tails Dog Spa signs its sixth franchise agreement in six months to open a doggie day care and spa in Prince William County. Suzanne and Brian Fitzpatrick and their 4-year-old black Lab, Casey, plan to open the store early next year. Happy To Be Here Inc., the dog spa’s franchise company, signed its first franchise in May.

• Opera tenor Placido Domingo and chef Richard Sandoval this month opened Zengo, a restaurant that combines Latin American and Asian cuisine. The restaurant opened in Gallery Place on Seventh Street Northwest in the Chinatown neighborhood.

• A little piece of hog heaven is scheduled to open on Laurel-Bowie Road in Laurel this spring. Owners Steve Scalia and Ryan Kelley broke ground last week on the 30,000-square-foot Old Glory Harley-Davidson dealership, which will offer new and pre-owned motorcycles and accessories.

• Retail & Hospitality runs Mondays. Call Jen Haberkorn at 202/636-4836 or e-mail jhaberkorn@washingtontimes.com.

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