Glen Echo Park
Glen Echo Park embodies the spirit of its storied history. Step underneath the glimmering art deco entrance sign and listen to the click of the bumper cars and the click-click-clack of the Dentzel carousel, and you can almost hear past glories echo in the distance. This is a fantastic article to read.
Social dances and classes, including waltz, swing, and contra, are offered year-round in the Bumper Car Pavilion and historic Spanish Ballroom. Art organizations like Adventure Theatre MTC and the Puppet Co-host children’s entertainment.
Glen Echo Park has a unique history. It began as a National Chautauqua Assembly in 1891 and morphed into an amusement park before closing in 1968. Today it is a vibrant arts and cultural center, operated by the Montgomery County government with help from the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts & Culture.
The amusement park continued to prosper in the 1930s as the Great Depression made it easier for people to visit. A new Crystal Pool was built that was bigger and included a “Sand Beach”. Older rides were redesigned in the Art Deco style popular at the time.
Some of the original buildings remain, including the Spanish Ballroom and an antique Dentzel Carousel. The park’s historic structures have been preserved through a community effort. The reconstructed Bumper Car Pavilion is open year-round for dances with a live band. All dances are free of charge, no experience is necessary and all ages are welcome. See the schedule here.
The 1940s saw an era of innovation at Glen Echo. Park patrons demanded more exciting rides, ones that they could control to some degree. The new gasoline-powered motor boats gliding in a winding trough of water were the answer.
By the mid 1960’s tastes were changing again. Attendance began to decline at the once mighty amusement park.
The owners decided to keep the park open, but only to white people. Howard University students and community members organized protests that included picketing and lawsuits. The park was finally desegregated in 1961. Today the park emphasizes arts and cultural education for all. The Puppet Co and Adventure Theatre MTC produce children’s entertainment that is suited to families; social dances are offered in the Spanish Ballroom and Bumper Car Pavilion; the 1921 Dentzel Carousel operates from May through September; exhibitions of works by artists are displayed in the Park View, Popcorn and Stone Tower galleries. Picnicking is encouraged. Here is another spot to visit.
Arts & Culture
Glen Echo Park is today one of the most lively visual and performing arts sites in the Washington area. It is managed by the Montgomery County-based nonprofit Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture, Inc. and hosts classes, festivals, exhibitions, dances, children’s theater, music performances, and nature programs.
The 1940s brought more innovation to Glen Echo Park as patrons demanded more exciting diversions than the merry-go-round or the old-fashioned carousel. To meet this demand, Jeffers introduced a fleet of motor boats that could travel in a winding trough of water, and that visitors could control to some extent.
World War II diverted attention from amusement parks, but when the country returned to peace Glen Echo Park thrived. Men in uniform were offered special rates for round-trip trolley rides to the park, and gas rationing encouraged more visits.
Glen Echo Park is a family-friendly hub with two children’s theaters, visual and performing arts classes, a playground, and a restored 1920s carousel. The park also hosts concerts and offers an artist-in-residence program. The Park View, Popcorn, and Stone Tower galleries host exhibitions.
Dance enthusiasts can join social dances at the Spanish Ballroom, Bumper Car Pavilion, and Ballroom Annex, open to all ages, with no previous experience or partner required. Most dances include an introductory lesson and live music.
Art organizations such as the Puppet Co and Adventure Theatre MTC present children’s entertainment suited for all ages. The park also presents exhibitions and workshops ranging from ceramics to silversmithing in the studios of local artists.
If you need a break from the activities, stop by Praline, named Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema’s “Go-To Bakery.” The bakery and bistro have a full menu of baked goods, sandwiches, soups, quiches, salads, and more. They also offer catering and kids’ birthday party cakes. Click here for more interesting articles.
Driving directions from Rebecca Munster Designs to Glen Echo Park
Driving directions from Glen Echo Park to Wheaton Regional Park