The Washington Post

Running the Park Service’s gantlet

Over 2,000 people, many decked out in flags or other creative costumes, packed Dupont Circle last summer to watch the United States play England in the first round of the World Cup. That was just one of many recent events organized by a new community group, Dupont Festival.

Organizers, however, had to contend with a hostile reception from Park Service permit officials, sudden last-minute changes, expensive yet unhelpful Park Police, and complex paperwork requirements which threatened to derail this and other events even up to the very end.

Many people sit in the park and enjoy the fountain during nice weather, but it hosts few structured events. Dupont Festival organizers want to activate the circle to become more of a community gathering place and focal point for events drawing neighbors and people from around the region.

Besides the World Cup viewing, they arranged for the park to host Police Night Out in August, a FotoWeekDC photography exhibition in November, Youth Pride Day in April, and a screening of E.T. in June.

These are just the kind of events that any city would love to have in one of their parks. But organizers report encountering little more than hostility and obstruction from the National Park Service.

[Continue reading David Alpert’s post at Greater Greater Washington.]

David Alpert is founder and editor of Greater Greater Washington. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.


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