Yesterday, L, Hank, Henry, and I went to see the Nationals play the Brewers at Nationals Park, the latest jewel in the crown of Southeast DC. I was very excited to check out the new park, and it did not disappoint. Rather than old-timey brick and wrought iron of Camden Yards and its imitators, this park was spare and basic, a simple limestone-colored structure wrapping around the diamond. Each concourse was open to the field; anywhere inside the building you could see the grass, hear the crowd, feel the breeze. We entered from the Metro and walked towards the main entrance at center field, where you make your way through a lively promenade with plenty of options for food and drink. Between the roving crowds, and the cloudless sky, it felt like a day at the beach.
My favorite part of the experience, though, were the mascots. They had enormously-headed versions of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt blundering all around the stadium. They were taking photos with student groups and making a few little kids burst into tears; at one point they were racing around the outfield, and Abe Lincoln came tearing through to take first place. I found the whole thing funny and irreverent, but not disrespectful; like the new park itself, there is a sense of levity that doesn't detract from the strong sense of history, civic identity, and even some good old Washington pride. There was a surprising number of Washington caps and shirts worn throughout the ballpark; I was really glad I had mine, too.