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Jennie Dean Park reopening this weekend with motorcycle parade, baseball history celebration

The $15 million newly renovated Jennie Dean Park is reopening to the public this weekend, complete with a motorcycle parade, live music, and a celebration of local baseball history.

The opening festivities are set to take place this Saturday from noon-3 p.m. at 3630 27th Street S. in Green Valley, down the street from Shirlington.

It will begin with a “mini-parade” featuring the Crossroads Riders Motorcycle Club and the Young Divas Dance Team, who recently performed at the opening of the John Robinson Jr. Town Square. The program will include remarks from Arlington County Board members and the Green Valley Civic Association, as well as a recognition of the park’s baseball history.

A number of the former semi-pro and amateur players who took their swings at Jennie Dean Park during the mid-20th Century will gather as well.

There will also be a ribbon cutting, a snow cone stand, food, music from JoGo Project, and a basketball tournament for teenagers, a county spokesperson tells ARLnow.

“Due to the projected weather forecast on Saturday with high temperatures in the mid-90s, a water fill station will be set up at the event with cold, filtered water,” the spokesperson noted.

The Shirlington Dog Park parking lot on the 2700 block of S. Oakland Street will be closed during the event, but the dog park itself will remain open.

A lengthy design and construction process resulted in a major renovation of the park, which first opened to the public in 1944. Approximately $15.5 million was spent to completely redo the park.

More than two acres were added along with an updated, ADA-accessible playground that now has age-separated areas. The new restrooms are all-gender, in keeping with a county ordinance, and moved to the front of the park. The picnic shelter has a sustainable, green roof, which is next to renovated basketball and tennis courts.

The two baseball diamonds were moved out of the Four Mile Run floodplain and have new efficient LED lights. The fields are also now named after two long-time community stalwarts, Ernest Johnson and Robert Winkler.

The diamonds will also display pennants of historic Green Valley teams, designed in collaboration with the civic association, that played at the park over the last 70 years.

Along the sidewalks near the diamonds is a history walk, embedded with plaques marking significant moments in the park’s and neighborhood’s history.

There’s a new site-specific work of public art in the western portion of the park. Wheelhouse is a stainless steel multi-sectioned pavilion that “​explores the industrial history of the Jennie Dean Park site through the lens of the great American pastime — baseball.”

The park is named after Jennie Serepta Dean, a formerly enslaved woman who opened the Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth in the late 19th century.

It was initially set to reopen late last year, but permitting delays pushed it back a few months.

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