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In a city filled with landmarks, one of D.C.’s most recognizable will finally be commemorated on Oct. 30. At long last, the city will recognize The Exorcist steps—the steep Georgetown staircase that Father Demien Karras plunged to his death down in director William Friedkin’s classic 1973 horror film—as a significant location in D.C.
And the commemoration won’t just be a quick and quiet affair: Friedkin, along with Exorcist scribe William Peter Blatty will join Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans and other city representatives for an official commemoration ceremony at the site of the stone steps, situated at the corner of Prospect and 36th streets NW. Afterward, there’s going to be a special invite-only screening of the film—with Friedkin in attendance—at the AMC Loews Georgetown theater.
This year marks the 42nd anniversary of the classic film, which raises the question: What the hell took so long for those steps to become an official D.C. landmark?
At least, that’s the question Andrew Huff, a self-described “fan and student of horror,” wondered long enough to finally do something about it.”It’d be really cool if the city recognized this space for what it is,” he tells Arts Desk.
Huff said he had the initial idea in June to try and get the steps commemorated. “Meeting with Dupont Festival and the Office of Motion Picture and Television Development followed and got things moving,” he says. The OMPTD loved the idea and kicked in $1,000 to fund the project. The Georgetown Business Improvement District got in on the plan and things started rolling. In all, Huff says he’s raised $7,000 from donations toward the commemoration, which will mostly pay for the plaque, the production company providing the stage and lighting for the ceremony, security provided the Metropolitan Police Department, and promotions.
So far, more than 700 people have RSVP’d to the commemoration on Facebook, which has Huff a little worried. “It might be kind of a mess,” he says, “but we’ve got MPD coming, and we’ve got insurance.” An invitation was extended to Mayor Muriel Bowser, but he hasn’t heard from her administration if she’d be there or not (Update, 12:34 p.m.: Bowser’s office confirms she’ll be there). Huff says he’s just excited one of D.C.’s most off-kilter landmarks is finally getting the recognition it deserves.
“[The steps] are kind of my Lincoln Memorial” he says. “When I have friends and family visit D.C., I don’t take them to memorials, I take them to the Exorcist steps.”
The commemoration will take place on Friday, Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. at the bottom of the steps, 3607 M St. NW. Friedkin will meet with fans from 4-6 p.m.