“Many in Washington may want to think that the White House or the Capitol is the center of Washington, but it is the Mall that unites this city,” said Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), accepting the 2019 History, Heroes & Hope award on behalf of her late husband, Rep. John Dingell, at the Ball for the Mall (May 9, 2019). “Protecting the Mall is important. We have to teach the next generation the importance of conservation and the important history this space holds. We can’t lose a part of ourselves,” she said.
Ball for the Mall, a tented evening of dinner and dancing, was held on the grounds of the National Mall to benefit the Trust for the National Mall, which raises funds for infrastructure repairs and an enhanced visitor experience surrounding “America’s Front Yard.”
In addition to the late Representative Dingell, the night also honored Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), (her husband accepted the award in her behalf, so it was the “spouses caucus,” according to Debbie Dingell,) and recognized all who embody civic engagement and work to restore what is arguably America’s most famous national park.
The glamorous event brought together notable Washington movers and shakers like Gala Chair Nels Olson (Vice Chairman and Co-Leader of Korn Ferry’s Board), Chip and Sally Akridge, Dave and Kirsten Pollin, Wolf Blitzer, Doug McMillon (President, CEO WalMart), David Rubenstein (Carlyle co-Founder and Executive Chair), Sheila Johnson (CEO Salamander Resorts), Catherine Townsend (President & CEO Trust for the National Mall) and David Vela (acting Deputy Director, National Park Service).
“Visitors can learn about the history of the National Mall at the newly opened and restored Lockkeeper’s House,” touted Chip Akridge III, a major event sponsor, who also promoted the Trust’s work on the Tidal Basin IDEAS LAB and its Endow a Cherry Tree Campaign. “Together we can make history that will have a lasting impact for generations to come.”
He spoke of the U.S. ParkPolice Horse Stables Project, which recently received a $1 million infusion thanks to Sheila Johnson, on hand at the fundraising event. Future projects include Constitution Gardens and the Sylvan Theatre at the Washington Monument. David
Rubenstein mentioned the opening of the new elevator at the Washington Monument, which will debut in August.
“In case you think the National Mall only represents our past, look no further than the celebrations and demonstrations happening now that underscore this as a gathering place for all of us,” said Wolf Blitzer, the evening’s emcee, who took a few moments to pause when a nearby kickball game score caused raucous cheering. “We’re gathering together on common ground for the common good… at one of the greatest symbols of American history and democracy.”