The Wash
Nearly 100 people from Bloomingdale and surrounding neighborhoods gathered to watch a sing-along version of the play Hamilton. The park partnered with the Collaborative Solutions for Communities on this event, which promotes community development and family engagement in D.C. (Shelby Fishman / The Wash)

At Crispus Attucks Park, return of outdoor events creates sense of normalcy during pandemic

Bloomingdales’ Crispus Attucks Park hosts its annual film festival this month after being canceled last year due to COVID. The event has brought the community together for years.

Bloomingdale resident Alexandra Williams sets up her picnic blanket for the last community movie night of the season in Crispus Attucks Park.

“Events like this are starting to come back in the park,” Williams said. “Of course, we’re still in a pandemic, but it’s nice to just walk out my backdoor and enjoy a movie with all my neighbors while still being socially distanced.”

The Bloomingdale neighborhood considers Crispus Attucks Park the hidden gem of the area. It’s a 1.4 acre pop of green tucked inside a city block framed by gray concrete sidewalks and brick row houses. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the park was an epicenter for community events like movie nights, beautification days and celebrations. But COVID-19 forced the community to put a pause on bigger events in the park, like the annual Bloomingdale Community Day and the park’s film festival, both usually attracting hundreds of people.

Though people were advised to stay home in the early months of the pandemic, Bloomingdale neighborhood members still retreated to the sanctuary of the park. They hosted socially-distanced picnics, yoga classes and smaller celebrations.

“It was definitely a safe-haven for me and other people during the pandemic, especially at the beginning,” said Bloomingdale resident Vicky Chao, who’s lived in the neighborhood for eight years. “I think it bettered people’s mental health because you could come out here, enjoy the fresh air and stretch your legs when we were all stuck in our homes.

Unlike other parks in the city, Crispus Attucks Park is not managed by the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation. It relies heavily on donations and volunteers to maintain it. The annual upkeep costs over $20,000, according to the Crispus Attucks Development Corporation, a nonprofit that oversees the park’s preservation.

Events like the park’s annual summer film festival costs hundreds of dollars to put on. Without donations, community events like this wouldn’t happen.

“I think it’s important for people to continue to volunteer and donate now and in the future, because this park completely relies on the community,” said Bloomingdale resident Valerie Yurk. “If we want to keep on having events like this, donations are essential.”

In the coming weeks, the park is hosting an annual fundraising party to help collect donations to finance the upkeep.

The park’s annual film festival, which aired a sing-along version of Hamilton for its final night, was postponed in 2020. With vaccinations available and cooler weather fast-approaching, community members and the CADC said it was time to bring neighborhood events back to the park.

“It wouldn’t be possible for events to happen if there wasn’t a green space like this so central to the community,” Williams said. “I hope that events will continue in the park’s future because it gives the community a chance to connect in a really nice setting.”

Shelby Fishman

Shelby Fishman

Shelby Fishman is a multimedia student journalist specializing in broadcast news. She majored in journalism at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and is continuing her education at American University to gain her master’s in journalism.

She has written for Modern Luxury magazine and is currently an assistant editor at MarketWatch and Dow Jones.

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