Every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving my family bundles up and heads to the Hampden section of Baltimore for the official lighting of Christmas Street. It’s become a tradition in our house, and I’m all about traditions lately.
Christmas Street is one block of rowhomes on 34th Street that are all decked out for the holidays — thousands upon thousands of lights and decorations of all sorts are on display. The decorations stay up through the beginning of January but that Saturday after Thanksgiving is the most magical and awe-inspiring for us.
We stand in the cold (we always seem to be experiencing the coldest weather of the season to date on that Saturday) and wait with anticipation with hoards of other people for the official lighting. I love hearing those collective “oohs” and “aahs” once they flip the switch and the block is illuminated.
Shortly after the lighting, Santa and his wife arrive in style – in a pick-up truck. Santa is in the back, waving to everyone and ho-ho-hoing, while Mrs. Claus takes a warmer and more comfortable seat in the truck’s cab.
And then the festivities begin….
People walk up and down the block admiring the decorations, some of which are downright brilliant and creative, if you ask me. Sometimes there are open houses to see some of the residents’ artwork. And on that first night Santa and Mrs. Claus bring a chair out to the street where they stay for several hours to hear the wishes of all the children – AND hand them each a homemade cookie. They easily hand out a couple hundred of them.
As you might guess, this is a big deal to the residents of this sliver of 34th Street and a source of pride. They do all of the work themselves, get no sponsorship and accept no donations. All of the expenses – from the lights, the decorations, the goodies to the skyrocketing electric bills – they pay for out of their own pockets. And through their dedication, effort and spirit they give onlookers not only a good time but a sense of wonderment, a taste of Christmas magic.
Here are some shots from our outing:
Surrounded by lights, I feel like I’m in a fantasy world…
And what kind of Baltimore festivity would be complete without Natty Boh and crabs? None that I can think of…. 🙂
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