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The Beginning

The Lions Club of Annandale was organized on March 23, 1948 under the sponsorship of the South Arlington, Virginia Lions Club during a dinner held at the George Mason Hotel in downtown Alexandria. On May 4th of that year, the 30 original members of the Lions Club of Annandale met at the Annandale Methodist Church for its formal chartering ceremony and initial charter night celebration. 

Back then, Annandale was a tranquil rural community with several gas stations, a couple of small restaurants, a variety store, a new volunteer fire department, an elementary school, several churches, a Grange (i.e., agricultural lodge), and little else. For a time, the club held its meetings at the Little Tea House in Arlington, however attendance was dropping off and a new meeting place was needed. The Annandale Baptist Church came to the rescue by allowing the Club to have its dinner meetings there. In December, the meeting place changed again -- this time to the Dardanelles Restaurant in Falls Church. 

By the end of the first year, there were only 12 of the original members left and the Club was in financial difficulty. The situation was serious -- Lions International was discussing with the District Governor the possibility of rescinding the Clubs Charter. But then Lion Erk Worden was elected as the new club President--he agreed to be President if Lion Vic Ghent would serve as Secretary. During that second year, they and several other Lions worked energetically to rebuild the Club on a firmer foundation. Their enthusiasm sparked the Annandale Lions to pull together for the purpose of collectively serving the Annandale Community. The Club now had defined its mission -- a legacy that has continued for over a half century. 

Club's Evolution.

During the ensuing years, the club helped the community through its transition from a modest rural crossroads to the bustling urban center that it is today. 

For example, in its first decade, the club became involved with many community projects such as: establishing an address system for street numbering that was ultimately adopted by Fairfax County, expanded throughout the county and continues in use today; purchasing and installing many of the original street signs for the Annandale community; developing and maintaining a response map for the fire department; equipping the playground and a clinic room at the Annandale Elementary School; purchasing raincoats for the local school safety patrols; sponsoring a Boy Scout Troop, Explorer Post, and a baseball team; purchasing tables and chairs for the Annandale Library; endowing a room in the Fairfax Hospital (now a part of the maternity ward); and supporting overseas relief efforts. 

As the community grew and developed over the ensuing 40 years, the Club's service activities evolved to meet the community's changing needs and priorities. The Club carried on numerous activities and projects.  For example, the club purchased sections of bleacher seats and lighting for Annandale High School, supported the construction and outfitting of a physical therapy room at the Northern Virginia Training Center for the Mentally Retarded, constructed a children's playhouse at the Annandale Christian Community for Action's Day Care Center and landscaped its Elder Care Center; and purchased a special camera to make Fluorescein Angiograms of the eye's retina for the Virginia Lions Eye Institute at Fairfax Hospital.

Sponsoring New Programs and Clubs 

The Lions Club of Annandale has also been instrumental in establishing several service programs and sponsoring other Lions Clubs within the Multiple District. For example, in 1960, the Club joined with a several other Lions Clubs to establish a Lions Youth Camp in District 24-A. In 1967, Annandale's Lion Merlin McLaughlin provided the driving force which resulted in the adoption of the Leader Dog program throughout Virginia. 

In 1979 Annandale's Lion Peter Bianchi became the first technician on the Lions Sight and Hearing mobile screening van. The Lions Club of Annandale has also sponsored the formation of four new clubs in the District; Baileys Crossroads Lions Club (February 1954), Springfield-Franconia Host Lions Club (July 1954), Alexandria-Lincolnia Lions Club (March 1964), and the Annandale Lioness Club (November 1981). In addition, three Annandale Lions have been elected and have served as District Governors within Multiple District 24. They are: Lion Leland Hayden (1954-55), Lion William Frogale (1961-62), and Lion Merlin McLaughlin (1965-66).

Lighter Moments

On the lighter side, one of the Clubs most memorable fund raising events was sponsoring a rodeo many years ago on the grounds of the Annandale Elementary School. Although the members of the Club at that time were known to have a good line of bull, they were not prepared for the real thing. Several members had up-close and personal experiences (narrow escapes) with a couple of particularly active (mean) and large bulls during that extraordinary event. One of the bulls came close to demolishing the fence and escaping from the ring. However, quick thinking saved the day when a member employed his truck to shore up the fence, thus preventing the bull from escaping and raising havoc within the community. Although the rodeo didn't generate much profit, it remains our most memorable, but never repeated, fund-raising event.


Lions Club of Annandale
Post Office Box 453
Annandale, Virginia  22003