Mike Gregoire, First Gentleman of Washington, and Karen Gustin, Superintendent of Olympic National Park, accompanied B.B. Craig of the United States Mint to ceremoniously launch the eighth America the Beautiful Quarter, honoring Olympic National Park in Washington.
The special coin ceremony took place outdoors Tuesday morning, June 14, at City Pier in Port Angeles, Washington. Although the temperature was cool and the skies were cloudy, there were still 1,200 in attendance, including 600 children from several local schools.
Commencing on Flag Day, which this year commemorated the 234th anniversary of the adoption of the United States flag, the children enthusiastically recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
Vanessa Fuller of the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce served as master of ceremonies and thanked everyone for attending.
B.B. Craig, an Associate Director for Sales and Marketing at the United States Mint joined others in complimenting the state of Washington and the National Park Service for the selection of Olympic National Park in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program. Its infinite beauty and tremendous preservation has made Olympic National Park a true American natural treasure.
"The beauty of Olympic National Park is in its biodiversity, three distinct ecosystems of sub-alpine, coastal and forest," said Craig. "There is no other national site like it, and the new Olympic National Park quarter will connect America to its natural splendor."
Gustin dove more in depth about the diverse and unique national park, describing some of the main features.
"We are really three ecosystems in one, and that is one reason Olympic was established," she explained.
She went on to illuminate the beautiful coastline, temperate rainforests in the Hoh, Queets and Quinault valleys, and the high alpine, glaciated mountain areas. Visitors can witness much of the park’s diversity in a relatively short amount of time.
The reverse on the Olympic National Park Quarter features a Roosevelt elk standing on a gravel bar of the Hoh River with a classic view of Mount Olympus in the background. It was designed by Susan Gamble and sculpted by Michael Gaudioso.
Near the end of the ceremony, B.B. Craig presented Gregoire and Gustin with two commemorative Olympic National Park quarters minted on the first day of production. One was struck at the United States Mint at Philadelphia and the other was struck at the United States Mint in Denver. The quarters were framed with a larger image of the coin’s artwork and a certificate.
A student band performed jazzy numbers while officials handed out free Olympic quarters to the children to commemorate the event. Hundreds of adults stood in line at the booth by First Federal Bank to exchange cash for rolls of the newly minted quarters. In all, $20,500 in quarters were exchanged.
Other entertainment during the ceremony included a local Native American group, who sang and played the drums.
The day before the ceremony, the Federal Reserve Bank released millions of the Olympic National Park quarters into circulation, and they were made available in bags and rolls directly from the Mint (http://catalog.usmint.gov).
A U.S. Mint coin forum was also held Monday evening. It provided an opportunity for the community to share their views and learn more about United States Mint coin programs. The forum was held at 7 PM at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center inside the park.
The America the Beautiful Quarters Program is a multi-year initiative that will celebrate 56 national parks or other nationals sites throughout the U.S. and its territories until 2021. Free United States Mint lesson plans are available for quarters at http://www.usmint.gov/kids/teachers/. They were created and reviewed by teachers to meet national curricular standards, according to the Mint.
The next issue in the America the Beautiful Quarters series will honor Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi. Federal Reserve Banks will release the coin on August 29, 2011. Closing out the 2011-dated America the Beautiful Quarters is the Chickasaw National Recreation Area Quarter for Oklahoma. It is scheduled for release on November 14, 2011.
Two United States Mint products that share the designs as the newly released quarter include a five ounce silver bullion coin and a five ounce silver collector coin. The Olympic bullion coin launched May 23. The U.S. Mint will offer the collector Olympic uncirculated coin later this year.