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The Kid Made the Jump: The Story Behind Washingtonian’s May Cover Photo

Photograph by Evy Mages
Coronavirus 2020

About Coronavirus 2020

Washingtonian is keeping you up to date on the coronavirus around DC.

Do you remember March 16? It was a Monday, the day DC Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered all bars and restaurants to close at 10 PM after a weekend when people crowded local venues in a fashion that seems completely insane now. (It was also just a month and a day ago, but let’s not dwell.) Students in DC Public Schools had the day off, too, as the system prepared to implement distance learning after a hastily moved-up spring break.

So it was that Lyndsey Medsker and her sons Atley, 10, and Finley, 9, cycled from their home in Capitol Hill to the Mall in an attempt to burn off some of the boys’ energy. The kids were delighted to find the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool drained of water–something that happens every winter, though nevertheless a strange sight on a day when terms like “flatten the curve” and “PPE” were still specialist jargon, and few people had any idea what would come next.

At Atley and Finely’s ages, “everything is a competition,” Medsker says. They challenged each other to leap across a puddle in the middle of the cement pool, a task they prosecuted for 20 full minutes.

They began a few moments after Washingtonian photographer Evy Mages arrived. Mages had been cruising DC, looking for images that spoke to our weird new reality. She snapped a couple frames of the quiet Reflecting Pool with her iPhone moments before Atley and Finley began their epic competition and, with Medsker’s permission—“She sort of interrupted my yelling at them,” Medsker says—took some more pictures as they leapt. Mages shot the photos in the iPhone’s “portrait mode,” which doesn’t allow bursts. Luckily, she got one of Finley mid-leap. “I was excited about the picture, but it’s always hard until you see it big,” Mages says.

The photo caused a bit of a stir on social media, and it was a natural choice for Washingtonian‘s May print issue. The magazine’s staff had to tear up the previously planned issue, and this was the first to be produced remotely. Medsker, who works in public relations and communications, reckons the image resonates because all of us “were leaping into something that we had no idea, especially then, what we were in for.” Finley, she says, thinks it’s all pretty cool.

Let’s clear up something now: Despite many opinions shared on Twitter and Instagram speculating about the success or failure of Finley’s jump, he and Atley totally stuck their landings. “Their shoes were not wet,” Medsker says. “I was yelling at them that we have to bike all the way home.” But maybe you’re the kind of person who doesn’t believe a mom about whether or not her kids’ shoes were dry. For you, my friend, please enjoy a little video evidence of one of their successful jumps, courtesy of Lyndsey Medsker herself:

If you subscribe to Washingtonian via this link, you’ll receive the May issue, plus a year of other really beautiful magazines sent directly to your house. 

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.