At some point just after noon a few days ago, the sun assumed a distinguished position in the sky, a signal to us here in Washington that it is party time -- also referred to by some as summer.

Within the next 60 days or so, nearly three-fourths of the Washington work force will find time to vacate the work place and say goodbye to what has been 5 1/2 months of grueling, nose-to-the-grindstone chores. To make matters worse, much of this work was performed while dealing with people who were often less than cooperative if not outright rude, selfish or just plain boring.

If the winter didn't make us irritable, certainly the news of tragedies such as the space shuttle explosion depressed us. And even when we did expect something unique and wonderful, like a Halley's Comet, we were disappointed.

But take solace: Summer in Washington is looking up. It is as if the powers-that-be know that we need to get away, even if we have no place to go or no money to get there.

Not since the riots of the 1960s have our parks and recreation people geared up so much to help us keep our cool in summer. The next time you see smoke rising from the horizon, have no fear. (Unless of course your condo neighbor has spilled his burning charcoals.)

Let's start with things for the children, so we can get them out of the way. The D.C. Department of Recreation is sponsoring a cheerleader and pompon day camp in June, a model boat regatta at the Capitol Reflecting Pool in July and an "Arts Smarts" program at the National Gallery of Art, also in July. Call the folks at Recreation, for there is much, much more.

Now, for the older children sometimes known as "adults."

There are fests everywhere: Check out the Post's Weekend section tomorrow for details.

In Rock Creek Park, there will be a Rib Fest, an very unofficial thing where hundreds of residents turn out to outdo each other with down-home recipies for barbecued ribs and chicken, roasted corn and buttered biscuits. You name it, they cook it in the park in summer.

There is already a River Fest under way on the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, and before long there will be a Fourth of July Fest that's likely to be the biggest thing to hit the city since the nation's 200th birthday.

Even though this is the warmest time of the year, it will also be the time of year when any and all sports are "in." There will be softball games on the Mall, volleyball in Rock Creek Park, football in the streets, basketball on the playgrounds, hopscotch in the alleys, stickball in front yards and soccer wherever a ball and two heads can get together.

Last but not least is the impressive list of summer entertainment. Eddie Murphy will be at George Mason University in August. Smokey Robinson, Spyro Gyra and Michael Franks at Wolf Trap, Tower of Power at Blues Alley, and my favorites, Stephanie Mills and Lisa Lisa, at the Carter Barron.

There will be nature hikes, as well as strolls down lovers' lanes (wherever you find them).

In all, its shaping up to be one heck of a summer. So get set, and prepare to party. As you already know, everything melts away come August.