By Beth Hall
The Friends of Titanic Memorial Park are hosting several special events April 14-17 to celebrate five years of partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) and commemorate the lives lost on the 110th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic.
The highlight of the weekend is the Titanic 110th Anniversary Gala & Tribute, which will be held on Saturday, April 16 at Arena Stage. Tickets are on sale through April 9 at https://www.fotmpdc.org/titanic_110th_anniversary. NPS staff will be on hand to discuss plans for future restoration of Titanic Memorial Park. Titanic-inspired heavy hors d’oeuvres such as grilled asparagus and peaches in chartreuse jelly will be served. Proceeds from the event will be used by the Friends for future restoration of the park in partnership with NPS.
From April 14-17, a series of displays at the south end of Titanic Memorial Park will tell individual stories of passengers and crew on the ship to humanize the disaster and focus on the role that class distinction played that fateful night. The display is funded by generous contributions from the Friends of Southwest DC and the Southwest Chapter of the AARP.
On April 14, the Friends will hold a wreath-laying ceremony at about 9:30 p.m. – the time the Titanic struck the iceberg. There will be a choral rendition of “Nearer my God to Thee.”
In preparation for the coming events in the park, NPS has recently completed some much-needed repairs to the tiles at the south end of the park. The Friends have restored plantings in the demonstration garden, trimmed the rose bushes, and tended to the planters so that the park will look its best in April.
The Friends of Titanic Memorial Park is a small nonprofit organization that works with NPS to maintain and restore the park. Over the last five years, they have involved community volunteers in painting benches, counting visitors, planting a demonstration garden and making landscape enhancements.
All community members are invited to join the Friends of Titanic Memorial Park and receive regular emails about volunteer opportunities, park improvements and coming events. Visit www.fotmpdc.org/join to join the mailing list. In the near term, volunteers are being sought to help set up and break down the displays in the park and to provide information to park visitors from April 14-17. To volunteer please visit https://www.fotmpdc.org/110th-volunteers.
Titanic Memorial Park borders the Washington Channel between P Street and N Street Southwest. It is a favorite spot for neighborhood dog walkers, bicyclists, walkers, fishman and others. The park features an elegant 1931 statue that was originally erected near the site of the Kennedy Center and placed in SW in 1968. Pursuit of funding for the memorial was initiated shortly after the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The competition for the design, which was open only to women artists, was won by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. Donations were limited to one dollar so that as many people as possible could participate. One of the most touching donations was by Mary Glynn, a steerage passenger on the Titanic, who contributed as her donation the first American dollar she had ever earned. More information is available at www.nps.gov/nama/planyourvisit/titanic.htm.