Fayetteville is having a birthday party for Lafayette! There will be a Party in the Park from 5 to 8 p.m., on Saturday, Sept. 11, to celebrate his birthday, as well as a full day of events — a French Toast Breakfast, a 10K Run, a Parade of Pooches, Cultural Heritage Trail Tour, the Festival of Yesteryear and a Fencing Tournament. Wow! Sounds like a great day of celebrating. But, why are we celebrating the Frenchman’s birthday here in Fayetteville, N.C.?

In 1825, the Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette visited Fayetteville, North Carolina during his “Grand Tour” of the United States. Of all the cities named for him, Fayetteville was the only one that he actually visited. It was in 1783 that Fayetteville became the very first city named for this French nobleman, who came to America’s aid during its fi ght for freedom from England.

The Lafayette Society of Fayetteville began an annual celebration in 2007, the 250th anniversary of Lafayette’s birth. Because of that event and because of Fayetteville’s unique connection to Lafayette, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives proclaimed, “Fayetteville is the place where North Carolina celebrates Lafayette’s birthday.” Although the actual birthday is Sept. 6, the weekend after Labor Day has been designated for the public observance.

First up on the day’s agenda is a guided tour of the Lafayette Trail beginning at 9 a.m. The Lafayette Trail is one of the Cultural Heritage Driving Trails, a new program of the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. It starts at the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry Headquarters and Museum on Burgess Street in historic 09-01-10-lafayette-logo.gifdowntown Fayetteville. Space is limited and tickets are $25. For a sneak preview, go to the website for the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, www.visitfayettevillenc.com.

You can also start your day, from 7 to 11 a.m., with a French Toast Breakfast Fundraiser for the Child Advocacy Center. It comes with bacon or sausage and coffee for only $7 and you may substitute pancakes for French toast. For every plate sold, Horne’s Café will donate $2 to the Child Advocacy Center, a nonprofi t agency dedicated to stopping child abuse in Cumberland County. Horne’s Café is located at 124 Hay St., and tickets may be purchased in advance there or in the front lobby of the CAC at 336 Ray Ave. Tickets will also be available at Horne’s on the day of the event.

The Child Advocacy Center will also benefi t from your participation in the Parade of Pooches. Bring your canine pal downtown for an informal gathering and parade in honor of the marquis de Lafayette. Dogs of French descent, from poodles to bijons, will be the stars of the show but anyone can join in the fun! All breeds are welcome if they wear a costume with a French or Revolutionary War theme (think berets and bikinis!) Dogs (or owners) in costume will have the chance to compete for prizes in several categories. Come meet some of the Child Advocacy Center’s “welcome dogs,” part of a new program at the CAC that uses therapy dogs for some of their young clients. Gather at 9:30 a.m. with your dog (on a leash please) at the corner of Anderson and Hay Streets. The good folks from the Dogwood Festival are helping organize this event with the Child Advocacy Center. You can call them to register ahead of time at 910-323-1934. Registration for dog and owner is just $5.

For the more athletic among us, there is a Lafayette Rotary Club 10K, 5K, and 1-mile Fun Run or Walk covering a 10K or 5K course over gently rolling hills through some of Fayetteville’s prettiest neighborhoods. These races are sanctioned using the Champion Chip System. There is also a 1-mile fun run or walk for those who just want to enjoy the great outdoors. All participants will enjoy a valuable goodie bag, sharp T-shirts, and the friendliness and helpfulness of the host Rotarians! Registration starts at 8 a.m. at Fayetteville Technical Community College at the corner of Hull Road and FTCC Access Road. Proceeds will be used to buy dictionaries for Cumberland County school children. Go to www.active. com to register or call 910-964-3996 for more information.

The day continues downtown with a Sidewalk Sale in downtown Fayetteville and the Festival of Yesteryear at the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex. This festival highlights the state’s Colonial and Revolutionary War history and is an amazing historical experience for all ages. For more info, visit the museum’s website www.museumofthecapefear.ncdcr.gov or call (910) 437-2603.

The celebration will conclude with a French Wine and Cheese Tasting at the Fresh Cafe on Hay Street and the Party in the Park at Cross Creek Park from 5-8 p.m., featuring, food music, games for kids and much,much more! For more info on the celebration visit www.lafayettesociety.org.

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