At the closed-off National World War II Memorial, two days of assaults by veterans prompted the National Park Service to announce that they had the legal right to be there and would not be barred in the future.
Across federal Washington on Wednesday, the government shutdown was leaking badly — partly as a result of citizen contrarians, war veterans, politicians and the difficulty of enforcement by the National Park Service. But the shutdown still managed to cause further inconvenience, as officials announced Wednesday night that the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon, scheduled for Sunday, would be postponed until Nov. 10.
While many memorials, parks and monuments overseen by the Park Service were closed off to visitors, others, like Lafayette Square, McPherson Square and Dupont Circle, remained open as “pedestrian pass-throughs.”
“It would be impossible to” close them, said Park Service spokeswoman Carol Bradley Johnson.
In the cases of other parks, it’s difficult to make it evident that a park is closed, said another Park Service spokeswoman, Jennifer Mummart.
“In big Western parks, where you have an entrance gate, you shut the gate and it’s very evident to everyone that it’s closed,” she said.
“Here, in D.C., it’s pretty unique, because there’s . . . what essentially amount to neighborhood national parks,” she said. “Although they’re not fenced or barricaded, they are in fact closed because we don’t have a (funding) appropriation.”
She said the Park Service sought to close the city’s 20 playgrounds at federal neighborhood parks for safety reasons.
“Because we don’t have anyone to patrol that playground area, and empty the trash and check for broken equipment . . . we just felt like it’s better to ensure safety,” she said.
David Shove Brown, 40, passed a locked-down playground at Lincoln Park with his 3-year-old daughter, Brighid, and two dogs. “It’s very surreal,” he said.
“Somebody gave the instruction to fabricate the [closed] signage . . . go around and place the signage and lock the gates, and go through this process, for four slides and some monkey bars,” he said. “Really? Is that what the solution is?”
At Stanton Park, also on Capitol Hill, a father looked at the chain and padlock on the gate around the playground, raised his eyebrows, then lifted his 4-year-old son over the fence.
He clambered over as his son dashed away to gather chestnuts, leaving a baby asleep in a stroller on the other side of the fence. Another dad soon followed, dropping his daughter over the fence.
More and more climbed in, most without an apparent second thought.
Underneath the slide, where children gathered playing “bus,” a little girl asked where they were going.
“To jail, for defying Congress,” one parent joked under his breath.