In December, the Highlandtown A&E District celebrated the holidays in its outdoor public spaces. Prior to the holidays, volunteers came out several times throughout the November and December to decorate Main Street for the holidays. The city hung giant swags across Highlandtown’s key intersection of Eastern Ave & Conkling St. Residents and merchants teamed up to hang over 50 wreaths on light poles along Eastern Ave. They also hung garland, lights, and installed the illuminated Candy Cane Lane. A new "Lighted Tree" was designed and constructed by a volunteer electrical engineer and installed for the Tree Lighting Ceremony.
On December 6, over 150 people came out in the rain to see the lighting of the Highlandtown Christmas Tree. Dixieland band "Sac Au Lait" kept the crowds dancing while stilt walkers and performers juggled, hooped, and danced with kids and families. Everyone paraded outside with bright pink and orange umbrellas with jingle bells to watch the lighting of the tree and walk across the street to the opening of the Highlandtown Train Garden. Guests concluded the night with a "Merry Mixer" to various stores in the area for snacks, spirits, and shopping.
Even though Mother Nature always has her way, one can learn some tricks to embrace the weather's uncertainty – Highlandtown bought lots of colorful umbrellas to lend to attendees of its outdoor tree lighting event. They attached bells on the umbrellas for an added jingle! The lesson: be flexible and creative when weather or other obstacles threaten to ruin an event
Also, the Highlandtown Arts organization met to select the muralist for the new mural at High Grounds Coffee. Over 16 artists submitted proposals. As soon as the business owner gave his final approval, the artist can get started. Additional projects will be happening through Spring 2014, including permanent outdoor seating, a new mural, and improved lighting to Conkling Plaza!
The last Bmore Flea market of the season in the Station North A&E District took place on Saturday, December 7th, and it was a great success. That same day, weekend MARC train service from Baltimore to Washington D.C. began, bolstering connectivity between the two cities. With its proximity to Penn Station, Station North is, naturally, delighted that more D.C. residents and anyone else with access to the MARC line will have the opportunity to more easily explore the area and take part in its cultural offerings on the weekends.
To celebrate this new service Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, and Senator Elijah Cummings held a press conference at Penn Station. They were able to stop by Bmore Flea afterwards and seemed pleasantly surprised by the vendors, crowds, and good spirits that greeted them in the plaza.
As Bmore Flea winds down, things are picking up with the rest of Station North’s TRANSIT projects. An artist team has been selected for the spring residency in Station North, and an official announcement will go out soon with more details on this exciting project at Penn Station Plaza and the surrounding area.
The events and planning process for Penn Station Plaza in the last couple weeks have highlighted the importance of taking a strategic, and multi-sector approach to reanimating a space; the new MARC weekend service between D.C. and Baltimore, and events like Bmore Flea, food truck rallies, and the upcoming residency function independently, but with some planning can work in tandem to bolster the overall impact on a space. By looking across sectors, we can offer cultural destinations and practical, efficient ways of getting to those destinations. We have seen this beginning to happen at Penn Station this fall, and we are looking forward to more of it in the spring!