I was at work. I was an editor for an adventure travel website (this whole KFDC thing isn’t a total fluke), and the office was in Chinatown right above what was then a Fuddrucker’s at the corner of 7th and H. Just a few of us were there — it was a dot-come start-up, and most of the team arrived around 9am and worked well into the evening, but I liked to get there a bit earlier. I was in a great mood that morning, like I was many mornings. It was generally a very happy time of life. I really liked my job; Levi and I were still newlyweds, having gotten married just four months prior; we had a big, fun group of friends; and we were enjoying life in our late 20’s in DC. It was a beautiful day.
I was at my desk checking email, when a co-worker sitting nearby announced with slight shock in her voice, “A plane crashed into the World Trade Center.”
One guy went over to her desk to check out what she was viewing on her computer. My ears perked at the news, but I also assumed it was probably a small plane and had the thought that I was surprised an accident like that hadn’t happened sooner. So, I stayed put and went back to checking email and preparing for the day ahead.
Not long after, the same co-worker jumped up from her chair and said in a loud, panicked voice this time, ”Oh my god. Another plane just hit the other tower.”
That was the moment everything changed.
I remember the cold feeling of dread creeping through my body, my thoughts jumbled and racing as I processed what I’d just heard. I frantically tried to check news online, but couldn’t connect to any sites. I tried to make phone calls, but couldn’t get through. By then, more people had arrived at the office, and there was commotion as we scrambled to get information.
Some of us eventually left the building and hurried a few blocks to the Grand Hyatt, where there was a TV in the bar. People were packed in there, silent, staring up at the screen as they watched the horror unfold in New York City. Then it hit closer to home: Another plane crashed into the Pentagon.
I remember the screams when we heard that news, the scurry of people rushing out, our group among them, to get to…safety? Where was that? What was happening to our country?
As we made our way back to our building, there were shouts on the street that a bomb had gone off on the Mall, that another plane was headed for the White House (as we know, both turned out to be false). When we arrived in the office, we were told to go home. I remember someone telling me there might be a plane headed for the U.S. Capitol, that I shouldn’t go to my house on Capitol Hill.
So, I went home with a co-worker who was also part of our friend group. We walked to his house up 11th Street — we were afraid to take Metro — still in a state of panic, we walked so fast. I remember at Cardozo High School, which sits on a hill, turning around and seeing the plume of smoke from the Pentagon in the distance. The rest of the sky was still a brilliant blue.
At my friend’s house, the first thing we did was turn on the TV. We learned another plane had crashed in Pennsylvania. Just minutes later, we watched the first tower collapse…
My friend’s house became a gathering place for many in our group that day. Scared and confused, unsure of where and what was safe, we found comfort in being together. I finally was able to contact Levi, and he joined us there after a slow commute back from work in Virginia. We stayed until the evening when we felt it was okay to go back to the Hill.
Over that day and the next few, there were a lot of check-ins — with family, friends, colleagues — to make sure everyone was okay. I was/am grateful that they were. But even though I didn’t lose anyone close to me that day, I still mourned. For all the lives lost, for their families and friends, for our country as we’d known it, for the innocence and safety that we no longer felt.
Twenty years. It feels like yesterday, but also a lifetime ago. Perhaps because, in many ways, time before September 11, 2001, was a whole other life.
When Levi and I talk to our kids about 9/11 —when we explain what happened and what ensued, when we tell them how before that day we used to be able to walk right up to the Capitol building and practically look in the windows and take in views from the top of the steps on the West side — I think about how that day changed the world for them, too, and wonder if they feel a sense innocence and safety like we did in our youth.
I hope they do.
* * * * *
It’s a somber anniversary of a national tragedy, but also a reminder to be grateful for all we have, including experiences shared with loved ones. Which is why now, like every Friday, I wish all a Happy Weekend.
Come From Away: In Concert at the Lincoln Memorial
Where: Lincoln Memorial | National Mall, DC
When: September 10, 6pm
In honor of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Ford’s Theatre presents a free one-night-only concert version of the Tony and Olivier Award-winning musical Come From Away on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The show tells the remarkable true story of 7,000 stranded passengers on September 11, 2001, and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them — spurring unexpected camaraderie in extraordinary circumstances. Recommended for ages 10+. (PS: I highly recommend seeing the stage version of this beautiful show if you ever have the chance.)
Kids Concert & Family Happy Hour
Where: The Hill Center | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Friday, 5-7pm
Admission: $5/adult, $10/child
Join a casual, outdoor happy hour for parents and tots! Kids’ local musical fave, King Bullfrog, will hit the stage with high-energy original, folk and blues songs carefully tailored to get children dancing and delight grownups. This is a great opportunity to meet new friends and gather with old. Kids under 2 are free. Register in advance. A *quiet space* will be provided for those who need a break.
Where: Revel Grove | Crownsville, MD
When: Weekends through October 20
Admission: $20/age 16+, $10/age 7-15, free/6 & under
The medieval time trip began is still going strong! You just can’t beat the amazing variety of entertainment — exciting jousting matches, cheeky comedy shows, fire eaters, sword swallowers, tight rope walkers and other balancing acts, jugglers, musical performances, puppetry, plus slides, play areas, games, and some of the best people-watching ever. It all takes place in Revel Grove, the charming location that resembles a 16th-century Tudor village. KFDC Tip: Admission prices go up after this weekend, so take advantage!
By the Seashore
Where: Lee District Park | Alexandria, VA
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Art on the Horizon’s production takes you on a magical journey to a place children love to visit – the beach! Young audience members are invited to explore all the amazing things we find on the shore, in the ocean, and in the sky; from birds and fish, to sand and water, and everything in-between! Using an imaginative mix of puppetry, movement, and sound, this sensory-filled production is specifically designed for our youngest audience members ages 0-3. It takes place outdoors at Leonadus K. Plenty Amphitheater in Lee District Park.
NSO in Your Neighborhood
Where: Several communities in DC & MD
When: Through September 22
The National Symphony Orchestra’s annual program is back! Over three weeks in September, NSO musicians are performing free concerts within the uptown DC neighborhoods of Ward 4, Takoma Park, and downtown Silver Spring. Events are offered both indoors and outdoors — at parks, coffee shops, taverns, schools, and more local venues. All are free to the public with first-come, first-served seating. Check the website to see where they are happening this weekend.
Where: Several locations around DC
When: Saturday & Sunday
All are welcome to this annual weekend celebration highlighting Latino culture. Festivities include a Parade of Nations, children’s festival, beauty pageant, science fair, a pavilion for embassies and consulates, arts and crafts stations, and traditional Mexican and South/Central American cuisine. See the website for specifics on all of the cultural fun.
Big Bounce America
Where: Rosecroft Raceway | Fort Washington, MD
When: Friday – Sunday
Boing! The world’s largest bounce house is in the DC area for one ore weekend and they’ve added extra jump sessions to accommodate more guests. Big Bounce America includes four massive inflatable attractions: A 13,000 sq. foot World’s Largest Bounce House; the newly added Sport Slam featuring a customized sports arena; the 900+ ft. long obstacle course named The Giant; and a unique, space-themed wonderland called airSPACE.
Kensington Train Show
Where: Kensington Town Hall | Kensington, MD
When: Saturday & Sunday, 11am – 5pm
Admission: $7/adult, $2/child $15 /family max
All aboard for the return of the Kensington Train Show! Features model trains and more train inspired fun, it’s an event for the whole family. Marvel at local club National Capital Trackers’ “O” gauge electric trains that will literally include al the bells and whistles. istles, steam, depots and bridges giving visitors lots to marvel at. Enjoy a performances by Orleans Express on Saturday (11:30-1:30pm), and Matthew Dodd will share railroad songs and stories on Sunday, (1-4pm). New this year is an I Spy Train Game for kids to play as they check out the model trains. And Boy Scout troop #439 will be selling hotdogs and snacks on-site both days.
Free Theatre in the Park
Where: Lubber Run Amphitheater | Arlington, VA
When: Saturday, 11am – 12pm
Join Synetic Theatre for a free pop-up performance of their family theater classic The Miraculous Magical Balloon. Expressed through body and facial masks, pantomime illusions, and dazzling choreography, it tells a story of a traveling actor and his magical trunk, full of toys, tricks, and surprises. This show is beloved by audiences of all ages. (PS: It will be performed at parks around Arlington into the fall!)
Falls Church Festival
Where: City Hall Campus | Falls Church, VA
When: Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but tastes and rides are a fee
The 45th Annual Falls Church Festival returns to The Little City with plenty of family fun. It features The Taste of Falls Church, a beer garden, live music, children’s entertainment, plus booths of local crafters, businesses, and civic organizations. This year’s event also includes a COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic inside the Community Center (223 Little Falls St.). Fairfax Health will offer the first or second dose of the Pfizer Vaccine to anyone ages 12 and up from 11am – 4pm.
A Wind in the Door
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Friday & Saturday
Catch this show for young audiences at the Kennedy center…. A cosmic mission is unfolding! Don’t miss the onstage debut of the exciting sequel to Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved A Wrinkle in Time. Recommended for ages 9+, this one-hour show takes place indoors in the Family Theatre. Patrons 12 and older must show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 – with a physical or digital copy of their vaccination card and government-issued ID with the same name. Children under 12 must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before performance time. Recommended for ages 9+.
Corn Maze & Apple Harvest
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: Through September 30
Admission: $12-16/adult, $10-14/child, free/2 & under
September is all about apples at Great Country Farms. You can celebrate with apple picking, award-winning apple cider donuts, a romp in our 12-acre play area, and some educational fun in the What’s Regenerative Agriculture Corn Maze. As you meander the paths, learn about how the deep roots in the soil can keep the farm’s food and environment as healthy as possible. On weekends, there’s live music, marshmallow roasting, pig races, and cider pressing demos, too!
The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from DC
Where: Orchards & farms around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale
We’re in the thick of apple season, and there are several spots around the region where you can pick your own. This round-up of area farms and orchards offering PYO opportunities has details. And I always recommend calling ahead to be sure the pickings are good the day you plan to go.
DC Walls Opening Event
Where: Alethia Tanner Park | NoMa, DC
When: Sunday, 12-4pm
Bring the whole fam for an afternoon of food, music, and amazing art! The opening event of DC Walls, a 10-day international mural festival, will host several muralists painting along the Metro Branch Trail, as well as local DJ’s, food trucks, lawn games, and more. Take in the work of these incredible artists and enjoy the park, too! Register here.
Adams Morgan Day
Where: Throughout Adams Morgan, DC
When: September 12, 12-6pm
Celebrate one of the city’s most diverse communities at the 41st Annual Adams Morgan Day, offering a day full of music, art, culture, dancing, and more. The family-friendly event will have activities for all ages, including free crafts, multiple stages of entertainment, all kinds of demos, a whole Family Fun Zone, and tons more. More details and the schedule of performances are available on the website.
Josiah Hensen Community Celebration
Where: Josiah Hensen Park | North Bethesda, MD
When: Sunday, 12-4pm
It’s a day of family fun at Josiah Henson Museum & Park. There will be musical performances to remember our heroes, re-enactments to reflect on the past and look towards a hopeful future, and opportunities to participate in a Peace Pinwheels demonstration on the grounds and portray how you plan to bring peace to the world.
We’ve Got Spirit, Yes We Do…
Where: Audi Field | Southwest DC
When: Sunday, 5pm
Admission: Tickets start at $25
The Washington Spirit, our local women’s pro soccer team, is playing at Audi field this weekend, as they take on Seattle Reign (that’s Megan Rapinoe’s team!). Enjoy some amazing soccer play while supporting women in sports and see a few players from the US women’s national team in action!
Links to all kinds of ongoing adventures:
* Best Outdoors in the DC Area
* Local Hikes with Kids
* Indoor Outings
* Bike Rides
* Swim Spots
* On the Water
* Pick-Your-Own Ops
* Peaceful Places
* Baltimore with Kids
***MORE GOOD STUFF***
* There’s a new round-up of fall festivals around the DC area, from city streets to country farms.
* From Washingtonian, five DC area events commemorating the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
* Variety’s most anticipated TV shows this fall.
* Possible baking project this weekend?
* This “Come From Away” story in the Washington Post earlier this week is so moving.
* “I am — we all are — covered forever with a bit of the ash from those towers.”