Ailsa’s travel theme this week is “festive”…and I am sadly late in coming to this party, but it’s been a crazy week full o’ stuff and things… Which is awesome, but attention-diverting. Anyway.
The week’s festivities included a trip to Baltimore to hang out with my boyfriend’s daughter, and she–knowing we adore the kitschtastic–suggested a trip to Hampden to see “Miracle of 34th St.” This was not, mind you, the 1947 movie starring a teensy little Natalie Wood (or the less excellent but surprisingly not awful 1994 version with Dylan McDermott, whose inherent dreaminess makes everything a little bit better). Rather, this was a city block (of 34th St., natch) of the working-class neighborhood of Hampden, located in the northwest pocket of the city. Hampden is fun and a little quirky-arty, with a huge foodie movement, uber-propelled to national notice by the always excellent Woodberry Kitchen. We ate recently at Dogwood Restaurant and kill if you must, but get the vegetarian risotto. The merry people of Hampden seem dedicated to providing hospitality unto the world, including a Christmasplosion that is a blingy feast for the eyes and the other senses as well.
Because it’s cold out, see? And you can feel how cold it is, so that’s a sense. Some of the houses play music, so you’ve got that whole “hearing” thing covered. You’re breathing, so of course you smell things, too. As for providing a feast for one’s sense of taste…
Once you get past the street meat, which is surprisingly difficult to want to move away from, Hampden is a visual extravaganza of festive Christmas fun. Ready for a tour down the block?
The first house on the block had a little cutout basement window, which they loaded up with a Disney theme and added Big Bird in there for good measure. They also provided a footstool, so kids could peer into the window. The kids, however, took it upon themselves to provide the wonder.
And moving down the block…
There’s something inherently weird about the Holy Family surrounded in cartoonish candy canes.
Welcome to the Natty Boh House!
National Bohemian beer, or Natty Boh–a Baltimore original–is the thing of Balto-legend. The Natty Boh man image is known all over Baltimore, and was recently used in an incredibly popular advertising campaign by Smyth Jewelers. Mr. Natty Boh proposed to Salie Utz of Utz potato chip fame, and…
The rest, as they say, is history.
No Baltimore Christmas display would be complete without a big ol’ light-up crab.
Here’s some perspective of the work that goes into just one home. These people are hard-core.
Remember, nothing says “festive” like an inflatable Mickey Mouse snowglobe yard ornament, next to a Sakrete sign.
DO NOT miss this if you’re in Baltimore during the holidays! It’s too much kitschy, charming fun to pass up, and it’s full of good will and glad tidings. It’s sure to knock the Scrooge out of the Scroogiest of you all. Merry Christmas, everyone! Season’s greetings! Felices fiestas! Feliz Navidad! С Рождеством! Joyeux Noël!.