There's been an invasion in the quiet Foggy Bottom neighborhood along 26th Street NW behind George Washington University, home to a solidly middle- and upper-income professional population of doctors, lawyers and college professors.
In the past four years, residents here have gained 40 or more new neighbors of the diaper-wearing, rattle-toting variety in what has been fondly dubbed "The Foggy Bottom Baby Boom."
Janet Danker, a former FBI investigator now primarily occupied with caring for her 7-month-old son Richie, offered an explanation for the apparent "boom".
"I think what happened is that everyone turned 30 at the same time. We all had happy marriages and good careers and we started rethinking women's lib. Many of us started to realize that raising a child is one of the most worthwhile things you can do," Danker said.
"I think it must have had something to do with the moon," said another recent mother, Martie Edmondson, smiling.
With the boom in full swing, parents became increasingly concerned about the neighborhood's lack of a playground. With the help of neighbors and District agencies they transformed a grassy plot of land on nearby I Street into a small fenced playground.
The park was created under the D.C. Department of Transportation's Public Space Project. The 2-year-old community beautification program allows individuals and neighborhood groups to "adopt" the 600 small parcels of land around the city that are under the agency's jurisdiction.
The project's one-year lease agreement requires that adoptive groups mow the grass, trim shrubbery and provide general maintenance at the sites. Three other parks in Foggy Bottom have been leased under the program.
Now on warm days, the newest generation of Foggy Bottom residents can be found ducking in and out of the park's miniature log cabin or whisking three abreast down the shiny aluminum slide.
Longtime Foggy Bottom residents Debbie Zelinka and Marianna Kieffer scarcely knew each other until they became mothers.
"We all had careers and didn't really socialize with our neighbors. Now we've met a lot of new childeren and parents that we never even knew lived here," Zelinka said.
Zelinka and Keiffer later led community efforts to build the playground overlooking the E Street Expressway, which had been a popular spot for dog walkers.
"A friend of mine told me about the park adoption program," Zelinka said. "We filled out an application and had one of our neighbors who is a graphic designer draw up a plan for us and we submitted it. And they transportation officials said we could do it."
The group raised $800 for the park's development by selling T-shirts, chili, quiche, and sangria at the community's annual block party last year.
The group took its proposal to the City Council's community development committee. The council approved their application for a $10,000 grant to buy playground equipment.
"Then Mayor Barry said 'no way,' " Zelinka said. "The reasoning was we weren't a low enough income neighborhood to qualify in his mind for that kind of money."
"We were unhappy and outraged," added Kieffer, a George Washington University philosophy professor. "Just because this is supposed to be a sort of upper-middle class neighborhood doesn't mean that our children don't need a playground also. It seemed just a little unfair."
Undaunted by the the mayoral veto, the group appealed to neighbors and solicited contributions through a community newspaper and by petitioning door-to-door.
The group collected $500 from the ANC, $800 from contributions, and $1,000 from the Foggy Bottom Neighborhood Association.
"Then the best thing happened," Zelinka said. "In October, DOT found they had some money left over in the program's budget and they bought us the swings, the see-saw and the jungle gym."
Parents and neighbors pitched in and built a miniature log cabin and shoveled five tons of sand into a handmade wooden sandbox. Council member John Wilson (D-Ward 2) helped the group acquire a chain-link fence for the park.
"It makes me so happy to see the kids going down to the park," Zelinka said. "It's exciting to us that Foggy Bottom is really a neighborhood now."
"When I told my friends I was pregnant, they all said 'I guess you'll be moving soon,' " Danker said, "but we didn't want to move to the suburbs and I think this park has made us more close-knit than people in the suburbs. I feel like I'm part of this neighborhood."
Martie Edmondson comes to the park every morning with her three-year-old son Sam. He occasionally runs into the log cabin to fetch mom an imaginary cup of coffee while she watches him from the shade of the park's many trees.
"It's the best thing that's happened to us, it's so close and I don't have to worry about traffic."
Purita Rainey brings her three-year-old son Charles to the playground often, and the expectant mother said she plans to bring her next Foggy Bottom baby here also.
"The park," Rainey said, "gives us mothers a break and a chance to exchange stories and find out what is happening in the neighborhood. It has made us like one big family."