‘DC is open’: Bowser holds rally to encourage tourists to explore the city

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser wants tourists back in D.C.

She held a rally Wednesday afternoon to proclaim that the District is open.

“D.C. is open!” she said.

A group cheered across the street from Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street NW as Bowser made her way to the mic riding in from a tour bus.

“This summer, we want them to get in their car or get on the Metro and discover D.C. and experience D.C.,” Bowser told the crowd.

Ben’s Chili Bowl founder Virginia Ali speaks to the crowd alongside D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

Ben’s Chili Bowl founder Virginia Ali said it was a difficult year navigating the coronavirus pandemic and they’re looking forward to tourists coming back.

“We are ready, we’re the most beautiful city in the world,” Ali said.

Bowser said she wants people to learn about the museums and see the monuments but also to learn about the people of D.C.

“What we want them to know is about the beautiful 700,000 Washingtonians here. We want them to know about all eight wards, the wonderful culture of Washington, D.C.,” Bowser said.

Peter Hardinge of Darnestown, Maryland, hopes more people do what he did: wander down and start exploring the city on a nice day.

“I just came out to hang out in D.C. today, get a half-smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl, and landed in the middle of this so, why not,” Hardinge said.

But after enjoying the restaurant scene in D.C., he decided to stay for the rally.

“It’s a vibrant city, it’s just a wonderful place. We need people here to come see what the city has become in the last 10 years,” Hardinge said.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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