The end of the shutdown means the Washington area can get back to museum hopping, drum circling, ballroom dancing, cinemagoing and even marrying - all activities that were easy to take for granted before the shutdown took them away. Here's the first batch of things we missed most.
Playdates at the park
Capitol Hill residents are used to the peculiarities of life near the nation's power center, like bumping into elected officials at Starbucks (or Tortilla Coast) and waiting out motorcade road closures. But it was still a shock to see locked gates on the neighborhood playgrounds when the shutdown first landed. We repeat: playgrounds locked. That's because the Lincoln and Marion park playgrounds are run by the National Park Service.
Kids in that neighborhood got their first lessons in civil disobedience. Parents lifted little ones over the locked gates, so kids were able to slide down slides almost as often as they regularly do. With the shutdown over, Hill parents can get back to their steamy cups of coffee while watching their children run and teeter-totter again - no fence-jumping required. Lincoln Park, 13th and East Capitol streets NE. Marion Park, Fourth, Sixth and E streets SE. Free.
-- Amy Joyce
Arts at Glen Echo
Glen Echo Park had no business being closed in the first place: All events and upkeep are funded by a mix of funds from Montgomery County, the Maryland State Arts Council, corporate donors and private memberships. But because the park is located within the National Park Service's George Washington Memorial Parkway area, everything came to a halt. The Adventure Theatre production of "Goodnight, Moon" stayed dark; the Denzel Carousel didn't spin; the Spanish Ballroom was silent.
Instead of the glorious art deco ballroom, swing dancers made plans to Lindy hop in the Walt Whitman High School cafeteria; resident artists moved their watercolor classes to the Clara Barton Community Center. Others weren't so lucky: The Puppet Co. had to put its Russian-style performance of "Peter and the Wolf" on hold indefinitely. There's a lesson about democracy in there somewhere.
-- Fritz Hahn
Longer trains on the Metro
When it comes to eight-car trains, I'm as intractable as certain members of the House. I'll let a six-car train pass just to enjoy the bounty of seats found in those extra cars at the far end of the platform. So when Metro announced that only six-car trains would run during the government shutdown because of a 22 percent decrease in ridership, I felt like writing a sternly worded letter to my member of Congress. I didn't, of course, because that would have been ridiculous in light of the real effects of the shutdown. But I'm glad everything, including Metro service for stubborn commuters like me, is back on track.
-- Alex Baldinger
Weddings both storybook and civil
You might not think of the federal government as a wedding planner, but it is. The National Park Service is responsible for booking ceremonies at a number of historic locations, including the Jefferson Memorial, the Netherlands Carillon and the District of Columbia War Memorial. When the government shuts down, National Park Service sites close and dreams are ruined.
More than two dozen weddings were scheduled to take place on or around the Mall in October, and all were told that their ceremonies could be canceled or moved. Even couples who thought, "Well, we could always get married at the courthouse!" were disappointed: The marriage bureau at the D.C. Superior Court stopped performing weddings and issuing marriage licenses during the shutdown, too.
Of course, there was nothing to stop committed couples from pushing barriers aside and getting married anyway, the same way that veterans began visiting memorials or kickball teams resumed their games on the Mall. But a word of warning for couples thinking about getting married at Arlington House, Meridian Hill Park or on the Mall: When you're considering dates, you might want to include any deadline that could trigger a government shutdown in your list of potential conflicts.
-- Fritz Hahn