By the time Reston’s Founder’s Day rolled around on April 13, the number of birthday wishes conveyed to Robert E. Simon—the cynosure of and reason for the annual community celebration--well exceeded his 99 years.
Making a grand entrance into Lake Anne Village Center’s Washington Plaza in a bright-yellow, chauffeured “Pedicab,” Simon, who founded the internationally studied planned community in 1964, was feted by a host of local politicos and entertainers after which the large crowd of well-wishers adjoined to the nearby Reston Museum for cupcakes, made by the plaza’s “CupCake Ladi.”
Among those celebrating Simon’s April 10th birth date and Reston’s 49th anniversary were: Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Dist. 11), state Sen. Janet Howell (D-Dist. 32), Del. Ken Plum (D-Dist. 36), Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D), and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D).
Also honoring Simon was public relations specialist, Peter McCandless, who promoted the “New Town” of Reston for more than 30 years and, on Simon’s instructions, delivered the first bag of groceries to the first Reston homeowners on Christmas Day 1964.
“Bob gave us the sticks and bricks. He came back, and he lives community spirit. He’s engaged,” Hudgins said at the celebration, organized by the Reston Historic Trust.
Providing the entertainment were cast members of South Lakes High School’s production of the musical “Xanadu,” Reston Chorale’s Bobby Pins singing group and Reston’s own diva Beverly Cosham, who besides managing a professional singing career is chairman of the Reston Community Center’s Board of Governors.
“It’s such a thrill to look around and see so many friends and acquaintances here,” said Simon. “There are no strangers. This is a real community.”
Though Saturday’s focus was on Simon’s 99th birthday, Reston also is readying for next year’s celebration of Simon’s 100th year and Reston’s 50th anniversary, which promises to be an extravaganza.
“We’ll be celebrating Bob’s 100th year every day next year,” Howell suggested.
In honor of that upcoming celebration, Reston Association (RA) President Ken Knueven announced a video contest that will start this May. Contestants will be asked to create three-minute videos about “what makes Reston so special.” The winning videos will be screened during next April’s celebration. Information will be available on RA’s website: www.reston.org.
Reston Community Center Executive Director Leila Gordon noted that a documentary film about Reston also would premiere at the 2014 celebration. A recent winner of a distinguished Peabody Award, lifelong Restonian Rebekah Wingert-Jabi is currently doing the filming. She could be seen, along with her film crew, busily at work all during Founder’s Day.
“All of you are what make this an extraordinary film and an extraordinary community,” Gordon said.