(Updated at 2:07 p.m.) More than a thousand people lined Connecticut Avenue NW to see a historic event earlier today.
Police corralled the crowd to the side of the street. Songs were sung. People clapped. Many were excited to catch a glimpse of His Holiness.
Police closed off the entire block of Rhode Island Avenue NW, so onlookers gathered along M Street NW and 17th Street Northwest to catch a glimpse of the pope as he drove by in his trademark Fiat.
Crowds started gathering early in the morning. Multiple people said they left home early anticipating traffic and Metro problems, but most people said the trip went smoothly.
Laura Fisher, 55, and her mother Francis, 90, arrived just after 6 a.m., five hours before the pope’s arrival, to make sure they could get a good view. The two chose to come to St. Matthews instead of the parade near the White House because the church carries special importance to them.
“We always came to church here when I was younger,” Laura said. “We weren’t planning on battling the crowds at the Mall.”
Another group that arrived before sunrise were the Women’s Ordination Conference, a group that advocates for female priests in the Catholic church.
Standing behind a banner saying that “God made men and women equal,” Women’s Ordination Conference co-chairwoman Kat McElwee said that they are hopeful that Pope Francis will take their message to heart.
“You have to be hopeful,” said McElwee, who came from Rome to participate in the group’s multiple demonstrations during the pope’s American visit. “Francis has shows that he’s a man of conversion and open to change, so we’re elevating stories of women and we believe the message will resonate with him.”
Some protestors representing a different women-as-priests movement were later arrested for laying down in and blocking the street, reported WUSA 9.
Dignity Washington, the local chapter of a national organization for LGBT Catholics also staged a demonstration, holding a banner that read “The spirit speaks through us,” in front of the Human Rights Campaign office on 17th Street NW and Rhode Island Avenue NW. Dignity Washington member Larry Ranley, 60, said that the group was hoping to spread their message with the pope, not to directly protest him.
“It’s a gentle protest,” Ranley said. “Our message is that the spirit is speaking through us, and some of the church hierarchy would argue the opposite, but I have no doubt that the spirit speaks through us. When you’re a practicing Catholic despite the condemnation it almost has to be the spirit.”
But not all the protests were so gentle. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church picketed the event with their usual provocative and vulgar signs, and several anti-abortion trucks decked out with images of bloody fetuses drove past to a chorus of boos.
“That ruined my lunch,” remarked an onlooker in disgust.
Despite these moments, most people gathered were happy to have the chance to see the pope, even if it was only for a brief moment as he stepped out of his Fiat and into the cathedral.
Many people in the crowd discussed how they thought the pope’s visit was a blessing. Veronica Cummings, 35, who is moving this weekend from Mount Pleasant to California, said she saw the visit as a blessing on her life changing.
“There’s something about being here with all these strangers all here for the same purpose,” she said. “I choose to interpret his presence as a blessing on my upcoming move. I’m not religious and certainly not Catholic, but I respect religion for the faith and hope that it inspires in people and I’m hoping this visit is a blessing not only in my personal life but for the whole country.”
Crowds braved the wet weather and flocked to the annual 17th Street Festival this Saturday. And although some left with soaked shirts and soggy socks, it’s safe to assume all had a good time.
From Drag City Divas to dozens of vendors, here’s what went down at this year’s 17th Street Festival.
Crowd and band photos courtesy of Luis Gomez
Rainbow flags lined the the streets in Dupont and Logan Circle as the city celebrated during last Saturday’s Pride Parade.
Though D.C. activated its heat emergency plan earlier in the day, thousands of people turned out to celebrate the occasion.
Atop decorated floats and on foot, revelers traveled the 1.5-mile parade route to hand out candy, beads, T-shirts and the occasional high five. This year’s theme was “Flashback,” and many in attendance donned colorful costumes meant to evoke past Pride celebrations.
And plenty of people wore speedos.
Dozens of locals, former patients and D.C. politicians braved the rain this afternoon for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate Whitman-Walker’s new 14th Street clinic.
In attendance were D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, former D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham, at-large D.C. Councilmember David Gross and Whitman-Walker executive director Don Blanchon.
Whitman-Walker Board Chair Mark Edward and Norton delivered speeches, followed by a religious ceremony during which retired clergyman and LBGT activist Bishop Gene Robinson blessed the new building.
The new clinic is known simply as 1525, and spans six floors and 42,000 square feet.
From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]borderstan.com.
Instead of applying filters and other edits after you take a photo with your phone, a new DC company wants to help you shape what you snap before taking the picture.
SnapDash, now available in Apple’s App Store for iOS devices, is on a mission to make photo taking more fun.
“Our theory is that the entire world likes looking at funny photos, so we want to make them easier to create,” SnapDash co-founder Daniel Hanks said.
Here’s how it works: You open the app and select from one of the categories preloaded on SnapDash. Within each category are different situations and poses for you and those you’re with to do when taking the photo, which SnapDash calls a Snaption.
The scenario you chose, like “There are bees in your pants,” is labeled at the bottom of your Snaption. Then you can publish your Snaption to SnapDash’s internal feed, as well as your Twitter and Facebook accounts.
“SnapDash turns taking photos into an entertaining and hilarious social game,” Hanks said. “Unlike other video and photo apps there is a built in idea generator that provides users with suggested poses and scenarios, eliminating the need to ‘be funny’ when put on the spot.”
Like many moments of entrepreneurial inspiration, the idea for SnapDash came from apparent randomness, when Hanks was at Delaware’s Dewey Beach last summer.
While taking pictures of his girlfriend and SnapDash co-founder, Meredith Balenske and one of her friends, Hanks began yelling out things for them to do while he took their picture. Others on the beach noticed, started joining into the fun, and the pictures were distributed across Facebook.
Hanks never thought much about starting a company, but his and Balenske’s vision for SnapDash inspired him to make the jump.
And with experience in investing in technology, paired with Balenske’s marketing and public relations background, the co-founders think they’re in good position to make good on that vision.
“We truly believe we are the first and only app that does what we do, using randomness and unpredictability to set the stage for social media interactions, as opposed to adding context afterwards,” Hanks said.
The Walk benefits Whitman-Walker Clinic and people living with HIV/AIDS in the DC Metro area. Donations through the Walk are being accepted through the end of 2008 — you can donate online right here.
Here are a couple of photos courtesy of One Photograph A Day. (Full disclosure: this photo blogger is my partner.)
Borderstan.com WANTS to publish photos from Borderstanians and I implore you: Send us images of your dog, your garden, something interesting in the neighorhood or city, your prize-winning pumpkin, anything… Please!
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