Manassas celebrating 150 years with time capsule, fireworks

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If you let the locals tell it, 150 never looked so good.

On Saturday, April 1, Manassas will celebrate its 150th birthday with a full day of events planned in Dean Park. And although the party is in honor of the city’s first 150 years, local officials will also have an eye toward the future.

The lineup for Saturday is extensive. There will be videos of residents telling their “Manassas story,” tours of the Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth, founded by Jennie Dean in 1893 to serve African American children, and crafts for children of all ages meant to honor the city’s history.

There will also be a historic Manassas Museum exhibit on display, poetry readings and live music. Food from at least seven local establishments will be available, and all sorts of entertainment for kids — from bucket truck rides to balloon artists, face painting and rock climbing — will be on offer.

But city leaders are making sure that the day isn’t all about the past. A time capsule meant to commemorate life in present-day Manassas will be locked up, not to be opened for 50 years. And a groundbreaking is also planned for the first phase of Dean Park’s long-planned upgrades — expanding the skate park, adding turf soccer fields, grading sites for future improvements and installing new infrastructure.

“The 150th Anniversary of our community marks not only where we have come from, but where we are going to,” Mayor Michelle Davis-Younger said. “This is a significant event in the city’s history, and I’m really happy to be a part of the celebration.”

The festivities will mark 150 years since the Virginia General Assembly granted a charter for the Manassas town government, on April 2, 1873. At that point, about 300 people lived in the town, which less than a decade earlier had seen major fighting in two significant Civil War battles on its outskirts. Manassas Junction, where the Manassas Gap and Orange and Alexandria railroads met and headed both west and south to Richmond, was instrumental in the town’s growth and the Civil War fighting.

Manassas was designated as the seat for Prince William County in 1892. By 1917, a town ordinance formally enshrined Manassas’ segregation, dictating where Black residents could live. Fast forward to 1975, the city of Manassas was incorporated, and on Saturday the festivities will be led in part by Davis-Younger, the city’s first Black and first female mayor.

Much of what survives from the city’s past is maintained by the Manassas Museum, which was supposed to have a reopening as part of the anniversary celebration after more than a year of renovations. Construction delays foreclosed that possibility, but the museum will have historical resources and information available Saturday.

The city will run free shuttles from Baldwin Elementary School, near the downtown garage, to Dean Park. Activities are planned from 2 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., with fireworks to cap the day.

“Our community is a special place, and since the city of Manassas is known as the ‘heartbeat” of events for this area, honoring this anniversary with a celebration is most appropriate,” City Manager Patrick Pate said via email. “Many hours have been spent planning and preparing for this celebration, so I hope many residents will be able to join us to celebrate at Dean Park … It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner and republished with permission. Sign up for’s free email subscription today.


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