Mayor Muriel Bowser, DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and DC Department of General Services (DGS) announced that a brand new multi-million dollar facility in honor of Marvin Gaye will open with a block party style festival with members of Marvin’s family, live music, food trucks, giveaways and more for DPR’s first Marvin Gaye Day on Saturday, May 5, at 2 p.m. at the Marvin Gaye Recreation Center.
Highlights of the event include the ribbon cutting for Mayor Bowser and members of Marvin Gaye’s family as the center opens its doors for the first time. Marvin’s original group, The Marquees will perform a tribute, while radio and TV legend Donnie Simpson is set to share musings of Marvin with the crowd. Closing out the event will be a more current Marvin-inspired performance by Black Alley.
“We want to give people a piece of Marvin with the Marvin Gaye rec center and festival; where he grew up and in the park he wrote early songs,” explained DPR Director Keith A. Anderson. “Hopefully this will inspire the Ward 7 community like the community inspired him.”
Following the ribbon cutting, attendees can take part in a Marvin Gaye 5K fun run/walk or venture inside to explore the facility.
The new $14 million Marvin Gaye Recreation Center was designed by IStudio Architects and constructed by MCN Build through DGS. It replaces the Watts Branch Recreation Center, a small one-story brick building, whose basketball court drew thousands each summer to watch summer league basketball.
The modernized Marvin Gaye Recreation Center and Trail Project includes a new two-story 7,200 square foot recreation center, with exterior amenities and improvements along the existing trail.
The building features a music room, art gallery, tech lounge, fitness center and a senior room with floating balcony. Other exterior improvements include a new playground with musical elements, NBA regulation basketball court and new practice field for soccer, football and baseball.
Trail enhancements include a fitness station, community garden and a memorial bronze statue of Marvin Gaye coming late spring and a splash pad opening this summer. Programming at the new center will include summer camp for youth.