What Makes the Barbie Pond on Avenue Q in Logan Circle a DC Hotspot for Tourists and Locals Alike?
The Barbie Pond on Avenue Q is a unique and vibrant attraction in Washington DC.
It's wonderful to see how a homeowner's creative endeavor has turned into something beloved by locals and tourists alike. The fact that it has gained recognition on platforms like TripAdvisor and is the number one Instagram account speaks to its popularity.
Places like the Barbie Pond in Logan Circle can indeed contribute to the overall vibe and culture of a neighborhood, making it an appealing place to live. The Barbie Pond sits on the corner of Q St NW and 14th St NW as shown in this photo below, just a blog away from the infamous, Le Diplomate restaurant.
What makes the Barbie Pond on Avenue Q so special to locals?
Each incarnation of the Barbie Pond on Avenue Q is influenced by current happenings. The presence of such neighborhood-driven initiatives can enhance the present sense of community and create a positive atmosphere for residents. Celebrating various events and causes, such as the Supreme Court, holidays, elections, and LGBTQ+ pride, demonstrates inclusivity and engagement with current social and cultural themes. These special events inform the core of the Barbie Pond's endless creativity.
When people are looking for a place to live, they often consider factors beyond just the physical aspects of the property. The ambiance, community spirit, and cultural offerings of a neighborhood are important considerations for many individuals. Community-driven initiatives like the Barbie Pond can contribute to the unique character of a neighborhood and make it more attractive to potential residents.
It's great to see how individuals' creativity and passion can have a positive impact on their communities, fostering a sense of belonging and making the neighborhood a special place.
I’ve included The Washington Post article by Theresa Vargas below from July 2023.
"Long Before Barbie Got a Movie, She was a Star at this D.C. Pond" by Theresa Vargas, Metro Columnist, July 8, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. EDT
The displays of Barbie and her crew at the pond have delighted neighbors, made the must-see lists of tourists and even played a role in a wedding proposal.
Nick Looney knew he wanted to ask Emma Benjamin to marry him in the city where they met. He also knew he didn’t want to propose in front of a typical landmark.
He wanted a spot that felt iconic but unique, a place that felt like the Washington they knew, not the Washington that was known.
That’s how the two ended up standing in front of a house on Q Street in Northwest D.C. one evening last year, looking at the latest display in the Barbie Pond.
During the early days of the pandemic, the couple had walked by the garden-sized body of water and seen Barbie and her crew posed in all sorts of ways that reflected current events, holidays and movies. In April 2020, two dolls in boxing gloves stood in a ring fighting the coronavirus. In October of that year, zombie-appearing dolls lurked in that space. A month later, dolls resembling President Biden and Vice President Harris stood against a backdrop of the White House surrounded by Barbies holding signs that indicated they had voted.
On the day Looney planned to propose, he and Benjamin walked from their home in Dupont Circle to the restaurant Le Diplomate. After they finished dinner, as he had done many times before, Looney suggested they check out what Barbie was up to.
When they arrived at the pond, they found a large wooden cake with Barbie and Ken on top. Barbie wore a wedding dress and Ken donned the clothes of a prince. In his hands, he held a sign that read, “Emma, Will You Marry Me?”
A video taken of that moment by the men who created the display (after receiving a letter from Looney) shows Benjamin jumping up and down after she realizes what is happening.
“My goal was to try to find something quintessentially D.C. without the monuments or the politics or the White House,” Looney, 29, told me on a recent afternoon. The Barbie Pond allowed him to achieve that, he said. “If you’ve never lived in Dupont, you might have no idea what the Barbie Pond is. But for those who have lived there, it’s such a staple of the community.”
The highly anticipated release of the Barbie movie has been bringing much attention lately to the iconic doll and all her pink accessories. In the D.C. region, bars, beer gardens and theaters have planned events that play to the theme. For people with dogs, there is even a “Barbie Yappy Hour” that promises to have cocktails, games and a costume contest.
But before the rest of the country started obsessing about Barbie, many D.C. residents knew where they could find Barbie putting on a show. At the Barbie Pond, she has long been a star.A display at the Barbie Pond celebrates Pride month. (Courtesy of the Barbie Pond)
Three longtime friends create the installations at the pond, and over the years, they have mostly avoided public attention. They have declined most media interview requests in the past. But this isn’t just any moment. This is Barbie’s moment. So, I reached out to them recently. They agreed to share the story of the pond on the condition that I identify them by only their first names — Craig, Jon and Brent.
The first thing you should know about the men, who are in their 40s and 50s, is that they don’t take themselves too seriously. They laugh — a lot — at their displays and at themselves.
“We are three grown men playing with Barbies, and we’re totally comfortable with that,” Craig told me. “The running joke between us is ‘Is it time to hang it up?’ We’re not really serious because we get so much joy out of it. We also keep getting feedback from people that it means something to them, and we don’t want to let them down.”
The work at the pond started small and without consistency. The homeowner, Brent, put some cake toppers in that space, and it drew some laughs. He then kept placing figures there and eventually started using Barbies. Craig and Jon joined the effort about a decade ago, and the three now regularly work together to create the scenes. They try to put up a new one each month.
Craig said it’s especially helpful that Jon is a carpenter: “Otherwise it would all be made out of duct tape, hopes and prayers.” Jon turned a toy car into a moon rover for a display that honored the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, and he built an Eiffel Tower for a display that gave a nod to the show “Emily in Paris.”A nod to “Emily in Paris” at the Barbie Pond.
Other displays have shown Barbie and her crew celebrating Cinco de Mayo, Pride month and Hanukkah. There have been Barbies in drag and Barbies wrapped in American flags. There have been Ken dolls that appear pregnant. That display went up after the U.S. Supreme Court decided to overturn Roe v. Wade. A sign next to those Ken dolls read, “Things Would Be Different IF …”
The men post videos of all the displays on an Instagram page, and their latest creation has drawn the highest online engagement yet. More than 50,000 users have viewed it. That installation features a Supreme Court made up of nine women seated in front of an American flag and a sign that reads “#Goals.” The song that plays with it: “Not Ready to Make Nice” by the Chicks.
“Best Barbie Pond Ever!!” reads one of the comments. “Amen to that!!” reads a second. “You never disappoint! Brilliant!” reads yet another.
I asked Craig whether the displays draw much hate, either in person or online. He said they surprisingly don’t. He said the Instagram page has accumulated more than 30,000 followers, and many of the people who live near the pond are protective of it. People have even left dolls and thank-you notes at the site.
“The biggest surprise has been the people from out of town,” he said. “Every once in a while, we’ll get people from across the country and even other parts of the world, and they will tell us that the pond was on their list of things to see.”
He described that as “mind boggling” in a voice filled with awe. He said they never expected a little pond with Barbie dolls to come to mean something to so many people.
They never expected it to become a permanent part of a couple’s story. Looney said he and Benjamin are planning to get married next year. They still have plenty of details to figure out about the wedding, but they know one item they will have with them that day. They plan to display that wooden cake topped with Barbie and Ken.