For 9-year-old Zebadiah Brigmon, the highlight of last weekend was a meeting with Mayor Marion Barry.
"We talked about summer jobs and how we can keep the city clean," said Zebadiah, as he proudly showed a snapshot of himself with the mayor.
Brigmon, not to miss a once-in-a-lifetime chance, even asked the mayor how to get a summer job. Unfortunately, the mayor replied, Zebadiah was not old enough.
Zebadiah and the mayor were on hand to join in the sixth annual family festival last week for Upper Northeast residents of wards 4 and 5. The festival was at Fort Circle Park.
The mayor arrived about 5 p.m. to mingle briefly with the residents.
Like many festivals last weekend, some of the activities at the park were cut short by afternoon showers. A crowd that varied from 200 to 500 drifted in and out of the park, watching local talent perform on the stage of the D.C. recreation department's Showmobile, and pausing by displays set up by neighborhood groups and government agencies.
Despite the rain, the Showmobile continued its program of jazz, disco and dance performances throughout the evening.
"We usually have 2,000 to 3,000 people, but the rain really knocked us out," said Harry Thomas, one of the festival's organizers, as he surveyed the nearly empty field in the late afternoon. Most of the crowd stood before the Showmobile, huddled in sweaters and light coats to protect them from cool temperatures and drizzle.
"The day was sort of bleak," said Yvonne Lanier, another organizer. "The rain is keeping people away."
Earlier in the day neighborhood kids enjoyed free pony rides, balloons, games and puppet shows.
A simulated "moonwalk," a plastic dome with a cushioned interior, won hands down as the children's favorite.
"You just get in it and it feels like you're in space," said Donald Doutin, 12.
"You'd be bouncing and running at the same time," said Leory Odom, 13.
When asked if they had a good time despite the rain, a group of kids chorused, "Yes."
Joe Snell, art coordinator for the festival, said he thought the adults were enjoying themselves watching the children have fun.
While the children played, some adults viewed displays set up by the D.C. Department of Human Resources (DHR(, D.C. Department of Environmental Services, the League of Women Voters and other groups. Howard University offered free tests for sickle cell anemia.
"It's a way for our services to go out to the community," said Lanier, chief of health information and volunteer services at DHR, referring to the festival's many information booths.
Lanier said she even learned how to landscape her backyard and cope with a soil erosion problem from a D.C. Environmental Services exhibit.
An art tent displayed paintings of seven neighborhood artists. Betty Snell, one of the artists whose work was shown, said response was generally positive.
"But if they don't understand it, they don't like it," said Snell, whose paintings are modernistic.
About 150 to 200 senior citizens from Edgewood, Fort Lincoln and D.C. Village were treated to lunch and music.
For most people, the festival was a chance to get together with friends and enjoy the entertainment.
City Council member Hilda Mason (Statehood-At Large) congratulated jazz musician Bill Harris on the performance of his students, guitarist Noble Jolley, who was playing onstage with a jazz trio.
"He makes me want to do my dance," laughed Mason, who started to boogie.
"I think (the festival's) a really great idea," said Tony Carroll, 19, whose two sisters were scheduled for singing and dancing acts later in the evening. Carroll said he was staying at the festival "as long as it lasts."