Bright balloons and band music will fill the noontime air today as Washington's newest memorial park is dedicated. Special box lunches will be offered for sale at a large kiosk in the center of Pershing Park, an oblong block of Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 15th streets NW.
The park is dominated by an L-shaped, 10-foot high granite wall that portrays the major World War I battles in which the American Expeditionary Forces participated under the leadership of Gen. John J. Pershing.
A seven-foot statue of Pershing will be installed this summer by the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation, which is overseeing the revitalization of the avenue from the Capitol to the White House. The PADC has spent $5 million to create the park.
The memorial is the nation's first federal monument to the two million Americans who served overseas in World War I. Pershing, who headed the American Battle Monuments Commission after it was formed in 1923, focused American efforts on building European memorials honoring soldiers with the AEF and on the eight American World War I cemeteries overseas.
The Battle Monuments Commission is bearing the $400,000 cost of the wall and memorial statue.
The park features a waterfall cascading into a 100-by-60-foot pool, which will become downtown Washington's third outdoor ice-skating rink this winter.
The Pershing kiosk also has public restrooms and a place to rent skates in the winter. The kiosk will be open year-round, seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Today's dedication will begin at 11:45 a.m. with remarks by PADC Chairman Max N. Berry and District officials. The festivities will include a pantomime show and music by a fife and drum corps and an 18-piece jazz band.
The park's plastic kiosk is unique in Washington because of its modern design and because it will offer wine, quiche and frozen yogurt in addition to more customary kiosk fare. Government Services Inc., which operates this and most other park kiosks around the city, "wanted to do something a little different," explained GSI vice president Aage Nylen.