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A snow day unleashes DC residents’ creative talents. By Benjamin Freed
Many snow. Amaze sculpture. Wow. Very scarf. Much photographs by Benjamin Freed.

Rather than hurl chunks of snow and ice at each other, the twee folks behind the Facebook-organized snowball fights in Dupont Circle whenever Washington gets hit with a snowstorm decided today's fresh blanket was too wet and heavy for a volley. Instead, they told their would-be combatants to participate in a sculpture contest.

The resulting sculptures were actually satisfyingly creative. Some teams won prizes for their works, like Dave Steadman and Daphne Kiplinger, nearby residents who won a $50 gift certificate to Bar Dupont for "Snobama," a snowman that looks not-at-all like the President (OK, maybe the ears), but was decked out with a campaign button, necktie, and miniature US flag. Steadman and Kiplinger had a long line of people waiting for a photo with their sculpture, including DC Council member Muriel Bowser, who was the only mayoral candidate to take up the organizers' invitation.

Steadman asked some in his crowd if the snowstorm has a social-media friendly name. Someone mentioned that the Washington Post is promoting "Snochi" to play off the Winter Olympics. Someone else asked why snowstorms need names. But Steadman said his wife likes snow puns.

"Snobody doesn't like a snow pun," Kiplinger said, with not even a flake of irony.

Other sculptures that were still intact about 2 PM ranged from frosty replicas of Washington landmarks, creatively posed snowmen, and even some internet memes.

Dave Steadman and Daphne Kiplinger with "Snobama."
Quite the hefty snowman, with Oreos for eyes, teeth, and buttons.

Somebody doesn't want their shirt back.

The medal is from the Akron, Ohio Road Runner Marathon, but we'll give it a 7.5 for Olympic spirit.

This seems more appropriate for an Adams Morgan snowman contest.

It snowed once. It was horrible.

There's a metaphor for the legislative branch somewhere in here.

It's the Washington Monument! What did you think?

See also: More photos of snow!

Posted at 03:20 PM/ET, 02/13/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
If it truly shows Lincoln in death, this image would be the only one of its kind. By Shane Mettlen

Image courtesy of Ernestine Glessner.

Ernestine Glessner of Martinsburg, West Virginia, was combing a flea market in Harpers Ferry a few years ago when she found what she believes is the only known deathbed portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Glessner is so convinced that after Laurie Verge, director of the Surratt House Museum in Clinton, Maryland, wrote on the museum’s website in 2012, “This is no more a photo of Abe Lincoln than it is of me. Ignore her,” Glessner sued Verge and the Surratt House.

Glessner says forensic experts back her claim. “Nobody has ever been able to prove to me this is not a deathbed photo of Abraham Lincoln,” she says.

She’s hardly the first to stake much on a personal connection to the assassination. Laura Keene, who starred in the Ford’s Theatre production of Our American Cousin the night of the murder, purportedly forced her way into the President’s box and cradled Lincoln’s head in her lap. Preserving her blood-stained dress—even reenacting her role that night—was her obsession until her death in 1873.

“Over time it just sort of becomes your life,” historian Michael W. Kauffman says of his own Lincoln fascination.

Kauffman, who owns a replica cast of Lincoln’s face made months before his death—and who has had his own disputes with Verge—says, “Though an entire field of science is devoted to the measure and comparison of photographs, it ultimately comes down to one simple question: Does it look like the subject it is claimed to be? In this case, I think not.”

Verge’s lawyer, who declined to comment, has filed a motion to dismiss.

This article appears in the January 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 09:41 AM/ET, 01/02/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
What does your snow day look like? We want to know!
Did you get enough snow to make one of these guys today? Let us know! Photograph via Shutterstock.

We hope you are staying safe and warm during the storm today! We would love to see any snow photos you have to share from your commute or of what's coming down outside your window. Send them our way at or tweet us @washingtonian. We will post our favorites right here!

Posted at 09:39 AM/ET, 12/10/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
It's going to be a crowded house. Of pachyderms, that is. By Benjamin Freed
Asian elephants Kamala, Swarma, and Maharani will join the National Zoo in spring 2014 by way of the Calgary Zoo. Photograph by Bill Quayle/Calgary Zoo.

The National Zoo's elephant exhibit will get a bit more crowded next spring when it adds three female Asian pachyderms on an extended loan from the Calgary Zoo. When the trio of elephants arrives, the Elephant Community Center's herd will grow to seven.

Two of the newcomers, Kamala and Swarna, were born in the wild in 1975 and were transported to Calgary the following year by way of a Sri Lankan elephant orphanage. The third, Maharani, is Kamala's offspring, born at the Calgary Zoo in 1990.

When they arrive—and complete a customary 30-day quarantine—the new elephants will join the existing herd comprised of 65-year-old Ambika, 38-year-old Shanthi, 11-year-old (and lone male of the bunch) Kandula, and the most recent addition, 37-year-old Bozie. Bozie, recently imported from a zoo in Baton Rouge, La., is the one with a much-publicized knack for painting, though she hasn't exercised her artistic talents since arriving in DC. (National Zoo spokeswoman Jennifer Zoon says that here, zookeepers try to focus on the elephant's natural, rather than trained, skills.)

And even though seven pachyderms seems like a lot, there's room for more. The National Zoo says its elephant exhibit is large enough to house eight to ten adult specimens and their young.

Posted at 03:42 PM/ET, 08/20/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
What Sunny can expect from life as a First Dog.
Official White House photograph by Pete Souza.

Michelle Obama tweeted the announcement Monday evening that the First Family had added a new puppy to the mix, a female Portuguese water dog named Sunny. She’s intended as a companion for Bo, who Mrs. O. has said doesn’t get enough interaction with other dogs. So what can Sunny expect as a presidential pet? Check out the slideshow for a glimpse at a White House dog’s life, as told by Bo.

Posted at 12:28 PM/ET, 08/20/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
One local woman’s quest to brighten your day. By Alison Kitchens
Photograph by Lorie Shaull.

Meet DC’s tiniest resident, the Little Heart Man.

He’s the brainchild of Lorie Shaull, a government consultant by day and pipe cleaner sculptor by night. Inspired by street artists, Shaull began placing the men around the District this past summer.

You’re most likely to catch him hanging out around Dupont Circle or Capitol Hill, says Shaull, who puts her creations in places she thinks they will be easy to spot.

Her goal? Simply to make DC residents smile.

“I happened to notice someone walk by one of them once and just saw them react positively to it,” she said. “And I thought that was really sweet.”

You can see more photos of the Little Heart Man in action on Facebook.

Posted at 02:30 PM/ET, 04/05/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Reader-submitted pics of the little bit of snow that stuck yesterday. By Tanya Pai

Well, that happened. The federal government closed yesterday in anticipation of the Snowquester/Saturn storm—which turned out to be, as our own Sophie Gilbert astutely named it, a major “snoverreaction.”

Still, some of you managed to snap pictures of the snow before it completely disappeared. Check them out in the slideshow—and tell us in the comments how you spent what might have been the last “snow day” of the season.

Posted at 12:45 PM/ET, 03/07/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Show us what you saw during the storm.
A mother and daughter stop for a brief snowball fight outside the Takoma Metro station as snow began to accumulate Wednesday morning. Photograph by Chris Campbell.

Happy snow day! We hope everyone in the region stays safe and warm during  Snowquester/Saturn’s arrival to the area. Got the day off? Having an especially interesting commute? We want to see your snow photos! Send them to us at or upload them to Flickr and tag The Washingtonian. We'll post our favorites to the website!

Posted at 09:30 AM/ET, 03/06/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Music from Washington Performing Arts Society members highlighted the evening. By Washingtonian Staff
Guests pose with their Ann Taylor tote bags. Photograph by Rick Lippenholtz.

Last week Ann Taylor hosted an exclusive preview of its new store in Union Station. Guests enjoyed cocktails, Champagne, hors d'oeuvres, and music while shopping the fabulous winter collection. The evening also included special remarks from Ann Taylor PR manager Arlena Pordoy and Washingtonian fashion editor Kate Bennett, as well as a violin solo by Evelyn Song of Washington Performing Arts Society, Ann Taylor’s partner for the evening.

Posted at 12:20 PM/ET, 11/21/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Help us share what you saw when the storm rolls through the area.

We hope everyone in the region stays safe during Hurricane Sandy’s arrival to the area. While we encourage you to remain safe (maybe sing a few of Sandy’s favorites from Grease to pass the time and stay positive), we hope you’ll send us your best photos at or upload them to Flickr and tag The Washingtonian.

See also:

Hurricane Sandy Storm Photos

Posted at 09:43 AM/ET, 10/29/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()