On a beautiful spring Saturday in March, local residents and members of the Neighbors of Southwest Duck Pond (NSWDP) organization descended on Southwest’s favorite pond to clean and decorate the park in preparation for the turning on of the fountains and the naming their Volunteer of the Year. Blue skies and warm temperatures smiled on the efforts of the NSWDP group and many passersby in the hours leading up to the ceremony.
The pond, freshly refilled and crystal clear, even saw the very early appearance of two ducks. This cheered up the participants and the many children who made their way to the event. To coincide with the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the trees around the Pond were festooned with Japanese style lanterns and parasols, lending a nice effect as they were made to be seen as floating on air.
Students from Catholic University, working on a project about the ongoing evolution of Southwest, happened upon the event and conducted interviews with several people who could speak firsthand to that subject.
At noon the fountains were turned on for the first time this season; the startled ducks promptly flew off but soon returned. Tom Sherwood gave a fine talk about the Park and praised the work of this and other volunteer groups. Longtime Southwest resident Olga Stopher was named Volunteer of the Year for her tireless work last year in helping to keep the park clean and coordinate the volunteers. Previous recipients Susan Yount and Carol Hedgpeth were on hand speaking to the continuity of the effort. District Employee of the Year was awarded to Anne Phelps, from the office of Councilmember Tommy Wells. Community leaders from SWNA, the ANC, the National Cherry Blossom Festival committee, and DPR Park Partners lent their presence as well.