Spend Some Time Celebrating Your Elders

Soukaena Gueye of the District takes a break from drumming during last year's National Black Family Reunion Celebration, a two-day event set for this weekend on the Mall.
Soukaena Gueye of the District takes a break from drumming during last year's National Black Family Reunion Celebration, a two-day event set for this weekend on the Mall. (By Jahi Chikwendiu -- The Washington Post)
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By Jessica McFadden
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, September 5, 2008

Sunday marks the 30th anniversary of Grandparents Day. Contrary to popular belief, this national holiday was not created by the greeting card industry for profit. In fact, its founder, Marian H. McQuade, was offered royalties from Hallmark from the sale of cards and gifts, and she refused, says her daughter D.J. McQuade-Lancaster, 70, of Chula Vista, Calif.

"My mother always urged people to make every day Grandparents Day," McQuade-Lancaster says. "She was proud that a day to honor the elderly was proclaimed a national holiday without commercialization."

Marian McQuade, 91, is a mother of 15 children, 43 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. She fo rged a lifelong mission as an advocate for the elderly, realizing her goal to establish a day in which Americans made a conscious effort to visit seniors in nursing homes and celebrate family history in 1978.

Grandparents Day falls on the first Sunday in September; the date was chosen to signify seniors' "autumn" years of life.

"My mother and the National Grandparents Day Council urge families to commemorate the day by hosting reunions, playing board games, pulling out the old family photos and just spending time with the oldest members of the family," McQuade-Lancaster says.

So in the true spirit of Grandparents Day, call family and friends of an earlier generation and make a date. Here are a few activity ideas to bring together all ages.

Take a Walk in the Park

Just a 35-mile drive from downtown Washington, Prince William Forest Park's idyllic wooded wonderland can transport grandparents, grandchildren and everyone in between. Situated along Quantico Creek in Triangle, the park has 40 miles of trails for all levels of hikers, walkers and bicyclists.

The Piedmont Trail is popular with seniors and families with strollers, as it is paved with bouncy turf made from recycled tires. The Quantico Falls loop is also a good family hike, with peaceful curves in the open forest and views of the creek. Both trails are less than one mile. The nine-mile road through the park is a picturesque Sunday drive by car or bicycle, with one lane dedicated to each.

"The park is just right for grandparents and their grandchildren to enjoy together. It's not too far away from home, but with 15,000 acres of parkland and a complete forest ecosystem, it feels like a mini-getaway," says Bob Hickman, Prince William Forest Park superintendent.

PRINCE WILLIAM FOREST PARK 18100 Park Headquarters Rd., off Route 619, Triangle. 703-221-7181.http://www.nps.gov/prwi.

WHEN: Open daily dawn to dusk.


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