John Stokes, the hardest working man in civil service, spent much of his Memorial Day Saturday at the pool at Upshur Rec Center. That was just one of three city functions that Stokes, a spokesperson for the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, had to work while the rest of us left town or played.
Stokes told me this is the first year that all the city’s water-sports facilities — every spray park and pool — opened on time.
At Upshur, Stokes made sure the opening festivities and community picnic came off as planned. And he got to take in the smiles of the huge crowd of pool-goers as they observed the center’s new showers and shaded areas and ate free hot dogs and burgers and watermelon and the kids got balloon figures from Bingo the Clown.
The city had given its residents a perfect place to spend a holiday, something fabulous enough to dull the pain caused by improperly assessed parking ticket fines and big property tax bills at least until the next work week. No question, DPR did us a solid.
Word of the pool’s gloriousness spread fast: By Monday afternoon, even without the allure of free hot dogs or a clown, a spot in the water in the Upshur pool had become as precious as the Ganges. Rec center staff turned away patrons at the door to prevent the crowd from getting dangerously dense.