It is 10:30 a.m. on the Fourth of July. The temperature already has climbed above 80 degrees and shortly it will reach 90.
In Anacostia Park most of the shady areas have already been occupied by early arriving picnickers. Some have set up grills, other settle for sandwiches.
The Anacostia Recreation Center, scheduled to open at 10:30 is locked tight.Around the corner the entrance to the pool is open but no swimmers will be allowed in until 1 p.m.
At 10:50 a car pulls up. In it is Phil Cocimano, center director. He carries a lunch bag in on hand and a television set in the other.
A teenager approaches him as he reaches for his keys. "When are you gonna open?" he asks.
"Nothing open today but the bathrooms," he answers. "I'm just here to watch things. All I gotta do today is watch TV."
"They said you were gonna be open," the teenager, who identified himself at "T. J." says.
"Well, they were wrong." Cocimano answers as he pushes open the door.
Inside the building is cool and comfortable."We were open on the last holiday," Cocimano says. "They let us have two people work then. Today it's just me. I'm just here to watch the bathrooms and help with any first aid if it's needed."
He opens the game room door, revealing table tennis and pool tables. "I suppose if we had been open we'd be pretty busy today," he says. "None of our regulars would be here though. They stay away when they think it will be crowded. Today it would be mostly picnickers."
On the softball field outside the building two boys are batting a Dr. Peppercan back and forth with sticks.
"We're playing hockey," the bigger one. 11-year-old Kevin Hodge explained. "We don't have enough people to play baseball, so we're playing hockey.
"If they was open," he says, hooking a thumb towards the recreation center, "we could play some Ping Pong. But they aren't open."
According to a release sent out by the D.C. Recreation Department, Anacostia was one of 11 centers scheduled to be open from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. yesterday. "Family-type entertainment such as barbecues, picnics, games, contest and sports events will be feature," the announcement said.
William H. Rumsey, director of the department, says he had "no explanation," for the closed-down status of the center.
Told that Cocimano said the department was responsible for the center being closed because it had assigned only one person to work there, Rumsey says, "Tha's not true."
On the opposite end of town at the polisades Recreation Center, the scene was different. There the youngsters got their games and sporting events as advertised.
It starts before noon with a parade down MacArthur Boulevard that concludes at the recreation center. As the parade ends families begin arriving in droves.
Center director Ralph Smith and his assistant, George Tehaan, find themselves engulfed by several hundred children. But they have ample aid. Volunteers, many from the American Legion, help conduct tug-of-war competitions, three-legged races, fire engine rides and balloon contests.
The air is filled with warmth and patriotism as a band plays songs one expects to hear on the Fourth of July.
"I started coming to these things here when I was a kid." Tehaan said. "We advertise the thing every year, but we really don't need to. People just come out for the parade and then come over here for the games, the prizes and the food."
One of the losers in the three-legged race. Michael Simms stands by his father holding an American flag as the tug-of-war goes on. "Next year," Michael promises. I'll be sure and win."