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DC's Harry Thomas Sr. Playground Ranked #2 of 50 Best Playgrounds in America

Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Early Childhood Education Zone Ranks Playgrounds Nationwide

DPR Customer Service:  (202) 673-7647
DPR Media Contact: 
Brian Armstead, (202) 746-2092, brian.armstead@dc.gov
Rachel Newman, 202 340-2910, rachel.newman@dc.gov

(Washington, DC) The Harry Thomas Sr. playground, named for the late 3-term Ward 5 DC Councilmember, has been ranked second among the 50 Best Playgrounds in America by the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Zone, an online early childhood educational website that offers advice, articles and useful tools to parents and teachers. The Harry Thomas Sr. Playground is a District owned play space operated by the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR).  The top five playgrounds, listed by rank, are: 1. Zachary’s Playground (St. Peters, MO); 2. Harry Thomas Sr. Playground (Washington, DC); 3. Grange Insurance Audubon Park (Columbus, OH); 4. Clemyjontri Playground (McLean, VA); and 5. New York Hall of Science Playground (Corona, NY).

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"If you dig deeper, you’ll find that playgrounds not only provide fun and entertainment, but that they also provide important opportunities for children to learn and foster new skills. At playgrounds, children tackle new challenges, using their problem-solving abilities to assess the risks and rewards and utilizing perseverance and determination to master new skills," the 50 Best Playgrounds in America article states. "Playgrounds also provide an arena for children to socialize with their peers, building interpersonal skills such as sharing and collaborating. There are some amazing playgrounds in the United States with unique and interactive equipment that is sure to delight children and their families."

“This is a proud day for the District of Columbia, DPR, DGS, the Ward 5 community and all the stakeholders involved on this project.  DPR and DGS have worked tirelessly together to renovate 40 "Play DC" playgrounds across DC, ensuring that District residents have safe, educational and inviting play spaces to enjoy," said DPR's Interim Director Keith A. Anderson.  "The innovative and creative use of the Fibonacci sequence theme, a very common mathematical sequence, to design a play space shows that we can infuse education and recreation in exciting and inventive ways. The Harry Thomas Sr. playground reflects a collaborative effort by the Eckington community, DPR and DGS to create a truly unique play space. The playground provides positive exercise and play experiences for the residents and visitors of Ward 5.”

The Harry Thomas Sr. Playground was recently renovated in October 2013 under the Play DC: Playground Improvement Initiative, the largest playground renovation project in the District's history.  The project included extensive community meetings, where project managers received input from community members, including many of our young residents; and broke ground in June 2013, taking just 4 months to complete construction.  DPR worked with the Department of General Services (DGS), the Harry Thomas Sr. Recreation Center community, Ward 5 stakeholders, Kadcon (general contractor), Jordan Honeyman Landscape Architecture and Bradley Site Design (playground design).  To complete the site, Sparks at Play provided the playground equipment for the project.  To learn more information, please visit the Harry Thomas Sr. Playground Project page on DPR and DGS websites, respectively.

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The Harry Thomas Sr. Playground’s “mathematical-sequence theme” derives its inspiration from the Fibonacci mathematical sequences (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, etc.), where each number is the sum of the previous two numbers. When these numbers are used to create squares, the result is a beautiful spiral, similar to those found in fiddlehead ferns or certain mollusk shells. Other features include new curvilinear ADA-accessible walking paths; a community garden; a fitness loop; rain gardens and bio-retention areas; two new basketball courts; one new tennis court; new custom playground equipment; artistic elements such as interpretive signage and interactive art poles; new solar-powered scoreboard; new adult fitness equipment and shaded picnic area.  The playground also features a green roof pavilion and an extensive storm-water management system for its new community garden.  To view photos of the playground, please click here.


The mission of the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) is to enhance the quality of life and wellness of DC residents and visitors by providing equal access to affordable and quality recreational services, by organizing programs, activities and events, and by building and maintaining safe and beautiful open spaces and recreational amenities. DPR currently operates 96 playgrounds, 73 recreation centers, over 900 acres of green space, 22 community gardens, 43 aquatic features (pools and spray parks), 375 parks, over 300 play courts (basketball and tennis) and more than 100 athletic fields.

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