Gail Simmons, Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi, from the show "Top Chef," arrive for the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2008. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Welcome to the end of the week. If the fact that it’s Friday isn’t reason enough, excuses abound to get plastered today: It’s Emancipation Day! And Day-After-Tax-Day!

Wait, you ask: What’s Emancipation Day? Today in 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, a precursor to the Emancipation Proclamation that freed roughly 3,100 slaves in D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams declared it a D.C. public holiday in 2005. District government offices and public schools are closed. Feds, sorry, you’re out of luck.

Emancipation Day falls the day after Tax Day—conveniently, for a couple reasons. One: For those procrastinators out there who filed their taxes at 11:59 p.m. last night and were in desperate need of a drink, you were in luck—D.C. bars can stay open an hour later than usual the day before public holidays. Two: For those incurable procrastinators out there who sometimes need a day or two extra to file their taxes, Emancipation Day has the effect of extending the filing deadline from April 16 to April 17 during years that April 15 falls on a weekend. Next time’s 2012, for all of you keeping track.

Tax Day also brought out the protesters in full force, with thousands of Tea Baggers Tea Party activists gathering at Freedom Plaza and in the amphitheater of the apropos Ronald Reagan Building.

District residents are all atwitter about the filming of Top Chef. Foodies can track Gail Simmons, Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi and the cheftestants as they eat and compete their way through D.C. Our own Chris Shott was lucky enough to spot Padma at the Westend Bistro by Eric Ripert.

Nats fans, last year was rough, but take heart: wunderkind Stephen Strasburg lived up to the hype in a crackerjack professional debut with Double-A Harrisburg, fanning eight and allowing one earned run in five innings, and throwing in the 97-98 mph range.

Meanwhile in sports, the top-seeded Caps began their play-off run with a 3-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens. Poster boy Alex Ovechkin had no shots on goal after leading the NHL in shots during the regular season. For the sake of fans everywhere, Ovie, don’t drown your sorrows in vodka at Russia House just yet! 

Lincoln photo courtesy of Gail, Tom, and Padma photo courtesy of