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Who Wants to Be a Washingtonian?

It's the day after the Academy Awards and we're gearing up for our own gala awards ceremony around here.

This is "What Does It Mean to Be a Washingtonian?" Week. On Friday we'll announce the winner of our first-ever essay contest. Sadly, there will no after-party at Elton John's, though the winner will get a $100 gift certificate.

You will recall that a couple of months ago we invited readers to answer that question -- What does it mean to be a Washingtonian? -- in 300 words or less. We've posted the two dozen or so submissions here and invite you to read them and vote for your favorite. (We're a hybrid of the Oscars and the People's Choice Awards.)

The essays explore issues familiar to those of us who live here or have lived here: What do we have in common? How are our lives different from those from other parts of the country? Can a true Washingtonian ever come from somewhere other than that ragged diamond known as Washington, D.C.? You may not agree with all of our essayists, but I hope you'll enjoy reading their work as much as I did.

There's special significance in the date on which we'll print the winner -- Feb. 27. It's the 208th anniversary of the 1801 District of Columbia Organic Act. No, that was not a law mandating the consumption of free-range chickens and pesticide-free arugula. It was the bill that created the District of Columbia, carving it out of Maryland and Virginia.

Please take a look at our entries and stay tuned for our winner. And now that you know what Friday is (I must confess I never knew about it) tell me how we should celebrate. What are some creative ways to mark D.C. Organic Act Day? It seems especially fitting to have some sort of celebration, given how close the District is to actually getting a vote in Congress.

By John Kelly  |  February 23, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
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