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Monday, July 13, 2009

1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

We all know the 8x10 glossy tourist pictures of this famous address.






But if you turn around,

you will see something much more exciting...









No, Not Protesters... Though they can usually be found nearby...







No, Not any number of historic statues. They can be found nearby too...











You will find...


HOCKEY!









The closing of Pennsylvania Avenue to vehicular traffic between Lafayette Park and the White House in the spring of 1995 unintentionally created the perfect central location for a pickup game just as the popularity of street hockey was reaching an apex. It wasn't uncommon for 30 to 40 people to flock to the street then, causing several games to sprout up on the street at once. Participation has fluctuated over the years, but by most accounts, numbers are back on the upswing.

For roughly 14 years, a group of relative strangers has met to play street hockey here -- on the 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, surrounded by manicured trees and box hedges and just a few yards away from the most recognizable address and home in the United States. The gathering of 20-somethings and middle-aged family men includes electricians, lobbyists, software developers, lawyers and physical therapists. Most don't know the other players' full -- or sometimes real -- names.

Those kind of details aren't terribly important in the style of street hockey played here. Players toss their sticks in a pile on the street, then divvy them up randomly to pick teams. They set up half-size, pop-up nets and play five-on-five roller hockey, goaltender included, where the winners stay on. Everyone rotates a turn in goal, and padding and helmets are up to the discretion of each individual. But to help keep themselves and bystanders safe, the players enforce their own rules -- no slap shots and no checking -- and keep an eye out for Segways, bicyclists and the occasional motorcade.

Interested? You can find out when the next game(s) are by signing up for the mailing list at...

White House Hockey

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