If the District ever puts together a serious bid for the 2016 Summer Games, there are three Severna Park neighborhoods that could serve as a model for the Olympic Village.
This month, the adjoining neighborhoods of Whitehurst, Fair Oaks and Oakleigh held a nine-day tri-community Olympiad, organized by adults who, in many cases, would see each other only at their kids' sporting events.
Betz Wild of Whitehurst came up with the idea of staging the Olympiad. Wild assiduously enlisted contacts in the surrounding neighborhoods to create an event with more than 150 participants.
"My mother, about 20 years ago, did a community Olympics. She started so many of the social things in the neighborhood," Wild said. "I just kept hearing myself thinking, 'Do it again! Do it again!' So I decided to go forward with it. Everyone tells me I'm so much like my mother anyway. I just got the word out. I couldn't go for a run without stopping people and saying, 'We're doing this; tell people.' "
The nine events included tennis, kayaking and horseshoes. For some contests, the neighborhoods fielded more than one team and designed their own uniforms. A horseshoes team wore matching blue Hawaiian shirts. People organized their schedules around the games, even on weeknights when people had to rush home from work.
Even before individual and team awards were handed out at the closing ceremony July 17, participants were talking about continuing the Olympic tradition, not just because the event offered a rare chance to keep working people active, but for the greater sense of community that it forged.
"We used to live in Northern Virginia," said Marge Bostram of Whitehurst. "One of the reasons we moved out here was that we saw that people were willing to put a lot of time and energy putting on something like this. It really demonstrates that people here value the environment, the outdoors and their neighbors."
The games mixed pageantry with the informality of summer. Competition would begin with a boom box playing the Olympic theme, "Bugler's Dream," followed by "The Star-Spangled Banner" as players and their families saluted the flag.
On a balmy Tuesday evening, a throng of spectators lined a volleyball court on the banks of the Magothy River, cheering on their respective communities. Because the event was being played on Whitehurst turf, the community flag, a red, white and blue mix of concentric squares -- a nautical symbol for W -- was the most prominent. A player acknowledged that the teams were supposed to switch sides every five points, but that didn't really seem to matter. Afterward, the official score of the game was tallied only when Wild stopped a passerby to confirm the results.
The game appeared to be all in good fun. "But if we happen to spike one down their throats, that's good," Whitehurst resident Dan Ragan said.
That competitive drive had shown its uglier side earlier in the week as a heated basketball game left three people hurt, one requiring medical attention.
For those keeping score, Oakleigh Forest mounted a final-day surge to tie Fair Oaks. Ed Schwanke, a 59-year-old cancer survivor from Oakleigh Forest, received Olympian of the Year honors as he finished second in men's tennis and horseshoes, two events played on the same night, and was part of a first-place basketball squad.
The kids, used to being the ones watched and cheered, enjoyed watching the old folks go at it.
"It's pretty funny, actually," said Emily Kraynak, 14, who lives in Oakleigh Forest. "They seem to be having fun with it, though."