Rachel Nania, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - If your idea of a great weekend includes live music, tasty food and even a spaghetti sauce contest in a historic cemetery, you're in luck.
Twenty-four Washington area historical sites are currently competing for the chance to win grant money through Partners in Preservation, a program with American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Through May 10, the public is encouraged to vote on the sites that will receive a combined total of $1 million in funding.
"Partners in Preservation is about building up the public's support," says Rob Nieweg, the D.C. field director at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The participating sites range from cultural landmarks, to monuments, religious institutions, historical homes and public parks.
To engage the public and encourage local residents to "get to know" the 24 contestants, the historical sites will host open houses May 4-5.
"There is nothing like being there yourself, so the open houses will be a great opportunity for the public to come and see (the historical sites)," Nieweg says.
At the Congressional Cemetery in Southeast D.C., open house visitors will be able to participate in an all-day scavenger hunt, a spaghetti sauce contest and a wine and cheese reception.
Meridian Hill Park will give guided park tours in between Sunday's Cinco de Mayo celebration.
The Greenbelt Theatre in Maryland will host a classic film series and live jazz music, and the Athenaeum in Alexandria, Virginia will provide food from local caterers, live music from Dead Men's Hollow and plenty of giveaways.
"The open houses raise awareness of the historical places and the needs each one has," Nieweg says. "So many have national and international significance, but they are all local."
Partnership for Preservation's website has specifics on the details of the open house events, as well as time and location information.
At the end of the contest, the historical site that receives the highest number of points from the public vote will receive the full grant request of up to $100,000, and the remainder of the funds will be distributed to the other participating historical sites.
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