VIENNA - The Grand Central Mall will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a special event for the community from 1-3 p.m. Friday in the food court.
The mall is encouraging residents to share in the nostalgia of the past 40 years, Marketing Director Katrina Stephens said.
"Grand Central Mall has seen so many changes over the past 40 years," Stephens said. "Retailers have come and gone, fashions have evolved and our customers' needs have changed.
"We are so proud of the fact that we are part of a community that has embraced us at every stage, and rolled with all of the changes these past 40 years have brought us," she said. "We continue to strive on a daily basis to bring them our absolute best and hope to continue to do so for another 40 years."
Dignitaries will speak from a stage amid displays of mall memorabilia and a retrospective slideshow. Face painting, balloons and cupcakes will be available.
"The first 100 shoppers will receive a goody bag, some of which contain gift cards, prizes, etc.," Stephens said. "Everyone can register to win a $400 shopping spree."
The winner will have to be present to win.
Construction of the mall started in 1971 and the facility opened Aug. 17, 1972.
It continues to be a shopping destination for residents throughout the region as it is the only sizable shopping mall within 77 miles, mall officials said. The mall features approximately 100 specialty shops, six anchor stores, a 600-seat food court and a 12-screen multiplex cinema.
Glimcher Realty Trust, the owners, also owns properties around the mall where retail businesses are located.
Representatives from the mall have been combing over photos for the retrospective, including photos from the 1970s featuring notable local citizens as they looked then.
A picture gallery showing the mall being built, the early days as well as other views from over the years has been set up in the center court. Mall officials said they had heard about many people's memories of the mall over the years, how it use to look, the changes which have occurred and other special memories.
The mall is doing a "40 Days of Gift Cards" celebration until Friday where a $40 gift card was given daily to random shoppers.
The mall also will be host to a special invitation-only VIP luncheon for local and company dignitaries, including Glimcher Realty Trust's Chairman and CEO Michael Glimcher and Chief Operating Officer, President Marshall Loeb and 10 others from the corporate office.
Vienna Mayor David Nohe and other local dignitaries will be in attendance.
The mall also will recognize employees who have worked at the mall for at least three decades.
"One of the things we are most excited about is recognizing store employees who have been in the mall for 30 or more years," Stephens said. "There are 12 that we know about."
Those employees include Helen Boggs of Sears, Joyce Bowser of Claires, Jim Brown of The Rage, Mae Crislip of Belk, Andy Deem of Sears, James Hewitt of Sears, Mark House of Sears, Helen James of Sears, Jennifer Moore of Sears, Mike Ruscitto of Pizza Place, Alice Terry of Elder-Beerman and Eva Thorn of Elder-Beerman.
Those employees will be honored at both the special luncheon as well as the main celebration event.
Friday also is a commemoration of the residents who have patronized the mall over the years, Stephens said.
"During our anniversary celebrations, which have run for the past 40 days and will culminate with our August 17th event, our main goal has been to show our appreciation to our shoppers," she said. "We are very grateful for their patronage and hope they are just as excited about all we have in store for Friday as we are."