Miracle on 34th Street

Local lore from the “Land of Pleasant Living.”  If you live in the State of Maryland, you most probably live in the Washington, DC suburbs or the Baltimore suburbs, then with distinct regional subsets being the western panhandle and eastern shore.


Well known for anyone that lives in the Baltimore suburbs is the annual Christmas Lights of 34th Street in Hampden, Baltimore City, an ongoing tradition since the time of the classic Christmas movie, Miracle on 34th Street featuring Maureen O’Hara and the young Natalie Wood.


It’s just one block of Baltimore row houses, but done in a spectacular way.


Our son Mark is dating Jena Richardson, who is renting the “National Bohemian” house on 34th Street, possibly the most iconic of the homes participating in the annual event.  She and the other renters take pride in their displays, and Jena does it up right every year for several years now.


Having never seen the 34th Street display, it was time to take in the local lore.  Jeb watches from the front stoop (porch).

My wife and I grew up in Prince George’s County just outside of Washington, DC (Redskins territory), but moved to Howard County, a suburb of Baltimore over twenty years ago (Ravens territory), and more exemplary of Maryland, rather than an extension of the District of Columbia.


Josh holds Harper Francis, as she is absolutely mesmerized by the display of lights.  I felt like I was on the boardwalk in Ocean City watching festive locals take in the sights.


Jena and Mark had the family over for Friday night dinner,  and then it was time to hit the street and take in the sights.


The street was closed to vehicular traffic and food trucks were stationed on the street corners.  As you approach the street, vendors help direct traffic and parking, and people were ambling from blocks away. Once on the street it was crowded with families, enjoying the evening of Christmas spirit.


Michelle, Jessica, Harper, Josh, Jeb, Jena and Mark.  Mike could not make it this evening.


How wonderfully festive, with Jena and Michelle a-wassailing.


Every homeowner on the block participates, with lights strung back-and-forth, rooftop to rooftop across the street.


Owls perch from the light pole.


Jena’s home has the theme of Maryland’s contribution to media, including House of Cards, VEEP, the Wire and the movie Hairspray.  Jena is an electronic media and film (EMF) teacher at Towson University, works for Serious Lighting, and is a grip on House of Cards, for every season of production to date.  My son is also an occasional grip for House of Cards.

The display of Sally Utz (Utz Potato Chips) and Mr. Bo (National Bohemian Beer), with an archway of mistletoe, has led to a few proposals of marriage in Jena’s front yard!


Baltimore’s Union Craft Brewery, makers of Anthem, Chessie, Schmoke (as in Kurt Shmoke, first black mayor of Baltimore), Snow Pants, Balt-The-More, Steady Eddie, Pregame Tailgate and Black-eyed Saison, now celebrate the local Miracle on 34th Street, with their Miracle Weizenbock.

Thank you Jena Richardson and Mark Burchick for hosting a beautiful evening!

The following is a humorous movie that Mark and Jena participated in making: