From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

Spirit Park

By Lani Gering

Patriotic Tribute to the American Flag

National Harbor celebrated Flag Day on June 14th with the groundbreaking of a new attraction – Spirit Park – and it is set to open on Veteran’s Day. I wasn’t quite sure why they wanted to use some of the only “green space” we have in the heart of the Harbor as well as taking up a significant number of parking spaces but as it started coming together, I guess I get it. It will definitely add another dimension to the Harbor and it is inclusive of some very cool sculptures and the amphitheater style layout is very attractive. To better tell you what the park will entail, I garnered the following information from Bendure Communications:

The park is 1.776 acres (in honor of Independence Day) and will feature a 50 by 80-foot custom-made flag that will go on a flag pole that is 177 feet 7 inches tall (first Flag Day was on June 14, 1777.) The flag will be one of the largest American flags flying in the country. It will be surrounded by 13 smaller flags (representing the original colonies.) Many elements of the park will pay homage to the flag’s signature features, as well as incorporate American themes throughout.

Spirit Park is based on the development of a patriotic, historically accurate, educational and moving tribute to the flag. It will include multiple touch points of interest relating to the history of the flag and its iterations from creation through history to what it is today.

The park includes an amphitheater with six rows of seating (representing the number of white stripes on the flag) and a 50-foot round stage representing the 50 states. Spirit Park will host everything from military concerts, history lectures, military events, private veteran events and general public events. The park will officially open on November 11th, Veteran’s Day, with a special dedication ceremony and fireworks.

A 17-foot, seventy-seven one-hundredths of an inch (17.77) bell tower will be erected in the park welcoming guests. Union Tower will ring daily and mark significant occasions with patriotic songs of history.

Spirit Park will also contain sculptures including American Bison, created by John Lopez. Based in South Dakota, Lopez is finalizing a six-and-a-half-foot tall Bison bull weighing approximately 1,000lbs, a six foot tall Bison cow and a three feet tall calf.

Sculptures of Presidents Eisenhower and Franklin D. Roosevelt, both created by Ivan Schwartz with StudioEIS will also be placed at Spirit Park.

“Spirit Park was designed to provide a truly patriotic experience to learn, enjoy, and remember our country’s history,” explained Kent Digby, executive VP of asset management, operations and marketing at National Harbor and mastermind behind Spirit Park. “We hope to educate and inspire the community as well as visitors to National Harbor and the nation’s capital.”

At the time of this writing, there were 17 days to completion. That’s when I took the “before” pics. The “after” pics accompanying this piece are renderings supplied by the Harbor marketing people. I am looking forward to the opening ceremony on Veterans Day!

For more information about Spirit Park and all things National Harbor, visit

‘Ice!’ is Back!

After a two-year hiatus, this beloved arctic holiday tradition returns. Gaylord National Resort invites guests to “freeze the day” this Christmas season as the hotel’s longtime holiday tradition, ICE!, returns *November 20th through December 31 after a two-year hiatus.

Using more than 2 million pounds – or 1,000 tons – of ice, the amusing holiday classic, ‘A Christmas Story™’ will be brought to life in ice sculpture form by a team of 40 world-class ice artisans from Harbin, China. This is the first time A Christmas Story has been featured at ICE! during the resort’s holiday celebration.

“We can’t wait for our guests to experience the magic and wonder of ICE! once again during this year’s Christmas at Gaylord National celebration,” said Dan McKeon, Area General Manager at Gaylord National Resort. “Since debuting here in 2009, ICE! has always been a one-of-a-kind attraction for our guests, and we’re excited to welcome this Gaylord Hotels tradition back this year with A Christmas Story.”

This year, guests will experience over 10 scenes from the hilarious family tale in magnificent hand-carved sculptures made of ice. Featured scenes include the old man’s major award, Aunt Clara’s pink nightmare, the pink bunny suit and the ultimate triple dog dare at the school’s flagpole and more!

*The Atrium Tree Lighting Show doesn’t debut until November 25th. Watch for full details on all of the holiday happenings at the Resort in this column next month, however, to learn more about the upcoming festivities and book an overnight stay, room package, meeting, or event, please visit or call 301-965-4000.

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