Join in the Fun at Festival 2017

Join the fall fun at the 64th Annual Festival on the Hill, Saturday, October 14, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Festival will have its usual mix of music (including Mambo Combo!), food, entertainment, arts and crafts vendors, and a fun, interactive kids’ area. Organized by the Bolton Hill Nursery, everything takes place on the 1300 block of Bolton Street and the 200 block of Lanvale Street.

Last year’s Festival

The Gourmet Gazebo will be back this year, with over 25 savory and sweet treats including Chili Rellenos, mac and cheese, chocolate-covered cherries, bean soup, vegetarian piccadillo, and much more!

As usual, the Bolton Hill Garden Club will have bright, beautiful pansies and ornamental kale for sale at their usual spot on the corner of Bolton and Lafayette streets, starting early at 10 a.m. Not only do the plants beautify the neighborhood, but the Club also uses all the proceeds to support community greening projects.

Festival-on-the-Hill's Pie-in-the-Face contest
2016’s crowned winner and her runners-up

Plus there will be Festival T-shirts (organic cotton, of course) for sale, and the return of the Pie-in-the-Face contest.

Festival goers buy a bag of pompoms and “vote” for the person they would most like to see get a pie in the face. Past choices included our city councilman, a school principal, a rector and our favorite, a co-editor of a neighborhood newsletter. The lucky winner gets to be hit with their pie FIRST, but all the volunteer targets will be able to delight in having cream pie mashed in their face.

Remember, ALL the proceeds from the Festival go to support non-profits that serve the 21217 community. From receipts of the 2016 Festival, the Bolton Hill Nursery distributed grants ranging from $600–$800 to nine organizations: Midtown Academy, Soaring Eagles Learning Camp, Brown Memorial Tutoring Program, Memorial Episcopal Church, John St Park Association, Rutter Mill Park Association, Corpus Christi Church, and Mt. Royal Elementary and Middle School.

Come join the fun. See you there!

Great Pumpkin Party On Its Way October 28

On Saturday October 28 from 1-3 pm, everyone—especially kids from 1 to 92—is invited to The Great Pumpkin Party, organized by MRIA’s Social Task Force (SATF), in collaboration with Kappa Alpha Psi. The service fraternity has generously offered to host the event again at their Youth and Community Center, 1207 Eutaw Place.

There will be face painting, a costume swap, music, hijinks, and of course, pumpkin decorating. Best of all, everything is free, including the pumpkins!


Last year’s Pumpkin Party

Donations are needed to make the Party successful. If you’d like to help out, please drop off your supplies at 1500 Bolton Street, on the corner with Mosher. During business hours Monday-Friday, deliver to CPA Joe Palumbo’s office (front door on Bolton St.). Evenings and weekends, bring to Peter & Susan Van Buren’s (side door on Mosher St.), but call first to make sure they are home, 410-383-7820.

Party organizers can use all of the following:

  • gently used Halloween costumes
  • old sheets or clothes that can be used to make costumes
  • pumpkin-decorating supplies, such as stickers, markers, pipe cleaners, and glue (no knives or cutting will be involved)
  • decorations
  • and money for all the things that aren’t donated.

If you are interested in volunteering for the event, please email Jessica Wyatt at

Preliminary Findings from Lighting Survey

By Barbie Klik and Jim Prost

Everyone knows that there are dark areas in Bolton Hill after the sun goes down. And the MRIA Safety Committee has heard about lots of reasons. Trees are obstructing the lights. There aren’t enough street lights. Neighbors don’t turn on their outside lights.  

While everyone thinks they understand the reasons, we wanted hard data. The Safety Committee developed and distributed an online survey, and now have data from some 200 residents who answered four simple questions.  

We have begun sorting through the responses and wanted to report some preliminary findings. On the positive side, approximately a fifth (20%) of the respondents said their block is well lit (4 or 5 stars on survey). 

The 80% who felt their block was poorly lit were able to identify reasons why. 

By far, the most common reasons identified for inadequate lighting were not enough city street lights (63%) and lights that are obstructed (53%). Approximately 23% of the responses noted that lighting could be improved if house front lights were turned on(The survey allowed for more than one reason to be selected, so percentages total more than 100%.)

The Committee is continuing to collect results and review the data. We will then map the data to identify differences among subsections of the neighborhood, and evaluate the more than 70 detailed comments received.

We will utilize this information to formulate an action plan. We have already begun to examine potential lighting options and are starting to engage partners. For example, BGE has an innovative B-More Bright Initiative and a Smart Energy program, and the Baltimore Historic Society may be a source for grant funding.

The Committee will provide regular updates at monthly MRIA board meetings.

In Brief

Update on b Bistro

Qayum and Pat Karzai told the Bulletin that contrary to rumors, they have never intended to close b permanently. Rather, it has closed temporarily to allow them to make some needed changes – a few repairs, installing new equipment, and developing a new food concept. 

Most importantly, they are recruiting new staff for both the kitchen and the front of the house to lead the reopening. They hope to create a revitalized spot that will be well received by the neighborhood.

Learn About the Francis Scott Key Monument

Much has been written about the vandalism of this landmark neighborhood monument on Eutaw Place. However, we encourage you to read Baltimore Heritage staff member Eli Pousson’s article with background on the monument’s history to gain a fuller perspective.

And, a neighbor who lives on Eutaw Place near the monument commented,

“I was sadden by the damage. And, I wish the persons expressing their feelings in this manner, could have engaged in dialogue about their feelings, and expressed their point or points about this historical figure in a less destructive manner.

Maybe they don’t know how, or feel they don’t have a seat at a discussion table or forum to express what they feel. I look forward to an opportunity to talk about a way forward.”

Book Donations for Festival on the Hill

Kristine Smets is looking for donations of gently used books and jigsaw puzzles for this year’s Festival on the Hill Book Table.  Contact her at for more information.  Donations will be accepted until Wednesday, October 11.

WANTED: Halloween Costumes

In preparation for the Great Pumpkin Party on October 28, the Social Action task force is looking for gently used Halloween costumes and old sheets or clothes that can be used to make costumes.

While you’re rounding those up, also see if you have any pumpkin-decorating supplies, like stickers, markers, pipe cleaners, and glue (no knives or cutting will be involved) or reusable Halloween decorations.

If you’d like to help out, please drop off your supplies at 1500 Bolton Street (at the corner with Mosher St.). During business hours Monday-Friday, you can deliver donations to CPA Joe Palumbo’s office. Evenings and weekends, bring to Peter & Susan Van Buren’s side door on Mosher Street, but call first to make sure they are home, 410-383-7820.

MRIA Website Redesign Underway

Under the leadership of MRIA President Linda Rittlemann, work has begun on the long-awaited redesign of MRIA’s website. Neighbor James Seeman has taken on the heavy lifting for the design and setup of the WordPress site, with assistance from tech adviser Brian Causey and Board Members David Nyweide and Peter Van Buren. 

The site will complement and integrate with the existing Bolton Hill Bulletin site. If you are interested in working on this project and being part of the communications team, please contact Linda at

The quality of a site’s images make it either appealing or ho-hum. The design team wants to feature shots of the neighborhood at its best in all seasons. If you have high-resolution photos that showcase Bolton Hill, please send email them as JPG files to

Look for the new site to launch in January 2018.

Memorial Player's A Christmas CarolFall Drama: A Christmas Carol

Mark your calendar now for Memorial Players’ production of A Christmas Carol. Show dates are December 1–3 and 9–11 at Memorial Episcopal Church. Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday performances are at 3:30 p.m.

For more information, visit their website or email

Councilman Costello’s Response About Oil Trains

In response to Andrew Hinz’s article in September’s Bulletin about the potential dangers of Oil Trains and the City Council amendment designed to reduce their threat, Councilman Eric Costello wrote this response:

“I have not had the time to fully review everything related to the train issue. I have had a preliminary conversation with Councilman Ed Reisinger, who confirmed he is co-sponsoring, but have not yet spoken with Councilman Mary Pat Clarke. I assure you that I will do my due diligence on this as soon as I have a chance.

At this time I am fully focused on a significant piece of legislation which I have been working on since December 2016 and that I am introducing at the next Council Meeting on September 11. It is critically important that I not only get this introduced, but that it is written perfectly so as to not require amendments. Each of the four pieces of policy related legislation that I have done since joining the Council to date have passed unanimously, and I certainly intend to keep it that way moving forward.”

Midtown Academy Earns High Test Scores

standardized testMidtown Academy students in grades 3-8 outperformed their City peers in all areas on the PARCC standardized test. Even more exciting, students outperformed their peers statewide in 8 out of the 12 areas, and in 7 out of the 12 areas compared with students across the whole country.

Historically, Midtown students have tested very well on City standardized tests. Executive Director Jennifer Devon thinks that this could be attributed “to a number of things, quality instruction through our experienced and tenured staff, comprehension of quality curriculum, or perhaps just the general interest our students have in wanting to learn.”

Soon after these scores were released, School Digger, a nationally known school ranking system, named The Midtown Academy’s middle school as the #1 Charter Middle school in Baltimore City, and second best in the City for all schools. The Elementary School ranked in 5th place among all City schools.

Congratulations to the students, staff, and families for their fine performance.

The Commuter Chronicles: Back to School

Commuter ChroniclesBy Claudia DeCarlo

Last month was back-to-school time in Maryland – that time of year when excited parents fill Facebook with pictures of their kids getting on the school bus, full of fresh new enthusiasm for what this year’s journey will bring. 

#FirstDayJitters #soproud. 

Once they arrive at school, the newer students will timidly explore their unfamiliar surroundings, while returning students experience the first day of the new year with a cool confidence that inspires awe and envy. 

There was a day last month when it was back to school on the MARC train too. On this particular day, I was privy to a distinctly noteworthy exchange between an experienced rider and one just starting out—a heartwarming twist on the classic freshman-senior relationship.

An unfamiliar woman stepped onto the train. I overheard her say she had just moved to Baltimore and was going to begin her regular daily commute to DC. 

A MARC Train Freshman.

An older gentleman, a veteran of the commuter way of life – an upperclassman – was sitting next to her. She asked how many stops it would take to get to Washington. He responded with the knowledge and authority of a seasoned commuter.

But the education didn’t stop there. He patiently reviewed the lessons of MARC Train 101: schedules, weekday vs. weekend, websites, notifications of delays, relationships among MARC and WMATA and AMTRAK. He then progressed to MARC Train 201:   pros and cons of Penn vs. Camden lines, and alternatives to parking at Penn Station.  They even discussed potential places to live that could shorten her commute.

How nice to know that all freshman-senior exchanges are not like John Hughes coming-of-age movies! I was reminded of my own first day on the train, and wished I had had a kind upperclassman put down his headphones to answer my endless list of questions.

As the woman passed me and stepped off the train, I watched her hesitate ever so slightly to scan the scene before her with a hopeful smile before she walked into the station. And, like so many others in Maryland that day, I was tempted to snap a picture and post it to Facebook with a caption that read: #FirstDayJitters #commuterchronicles.

Sign Up for CERT Emergency Preparedness Training

Emergency PreparednessBy David Bowes

Remember the Derecho of July 2012? That was the windstorm that downed trees and power lines and left much of the mid-Atlantic region in the dark. At the time, I found myself woefully unprepared. 

When the lights went out, I managed to dig up a puny flashlight from the car and a chocolate-scented candle. I don’t know why I had a chocolate-scented candle. Thankfully, our power returned by 10 the next morning, but the experience made me reexamine my level of readiness, or lack thereof. 

In addition to flashlights, a NOAA weather radio, and other supplies, I realized I also needed to know what to actually do in an emergency. It’s one thing to have lots of emergency gadgets; it’s quite another to have the skills you might need when the grid goes down. It’s especially beneficial to have neighbors who can help one another when disaster strikes.

Enter Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training, which in Baltimore is offered by the Office of Emergency Management.

In 1985, the Los Angeles Fire Department developed the first CERT training to provide a better response after earthquakes. They recognized that in the early stages of a disaster, organized responses were often delayed, leaving citizens to fend for themselves. By covering preparedness, basic disaster survival, and rescue skills, their training program improved the ability of residents to safely help themselves, their families, and their neighbors until assistance arrives.

In 1993, CERT training was standardized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for all hazards. CERT now exists nationwide, and individuals who take the class are better prepared to respond to and cope with disasters. CERT teams can supplement the official response to a disaster by providing immediate assistance to victims in their communities.

Baltimore City’s CERT training is held at the Public Safety Training Academy, 3500 W. Northern Parkway, and led by a team of volunteers from a variety of backgrounds who have completed the CERT Train-the-Trainer program. Participants receive both classroom lectures and practical training.

The training takes an entire weekend, starting Friday evening and continuing all day Saturday and Sunday. From personal experience, I recommend packing your lunch.

Along with classmates from across Baltimore, I completed my training this summer on the first weekend in July. My CERT certificate feels like an insurance policy against a disaster, and I can say with confidence that I sleep a little easier at night.

Two more CERT trainings will be held this year, on the weekends of October 13 and December 8. To sign up for a class, send a registration email to before the signup deadlines (10/6 and 12/1 respectively). Preference is usually given to those who live or work in Baltimore City. 

Several of us in Bolton Hill are working to establish a neighborhood CERT team. If you’re interested, email me at

For more information on Emergency Preparedness, visit the Baltimore Office of Emergency Management CERT website, the FEMA CERT site and the Department of Homeland Security site.

BGE Green Grant Funds School Community Greening Project

Drain StencilingBy Dick Williams

On the morning of Friday, October 6th, more than 30 elementary and middle school students from our neighborhood schools—Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary, Midtown Academy and Mount Royal Elementary/Middle—will participate in a unique community greening project.

Students will get hands-on experience about the value of healthy trees and helpful stormwater mitigation practices.

During the hour-long event, students will revitalize 10 sidewalk tree pits that have just been expanded by Memorial Episcopal Church. Each 3- or 4-student team will recondition the soil in their assigned pit with a mix of compost and top soil, plant liriope (a grass-like perennial), and top with mulch. The expanded tree pits, widened by 36% on average, will have a soil height 1” below the sidewalk level to help capture the maximum amount of stormwater.

They will also assist in stenciling nearby storm drains and learn how polluted stormwater runoff from sidewalks, streets and other impervious surfaces strains the city’s aging sewer pipes and treatment facilities. When these facilities break down, they contaminate our streams and the Chesapeake Bay.

Teachers will be on hand to reinforce in the field what they’ve been learning in class. Recent lessons have focused on how healthy trees sequester carbon dioxide and capture airborne pollutants while diminishing the urban “heat island” effect.

The Rev. Grey Maggiano of Memorial Episcopal will welcome everyone to the event. A BGE Green Grant, awarded to Memorial’s Creation Care Team In July 2017, is funding this creative and fun educational project.

Bolton Hill’s Champion Trees

Remarkable Trees of BHWhen the National Forest Service was in its infancy, Maryland hired its first state arborist, Fred Besley, who was the third state forester in the entire US. In 1906 this was still a new concept—the idea that states should care for their timber assets rather than eradicate trees that had existed on the continent for millennia.

Besley created a tree-measuring formula that became standard throughout the nation. Citizens started working to save our biggest, oldest trees, even in the face of their industrial value.

Today, Maryland, like many states, has a Notable Tree Registry. Our Registry was developed by John Bennett and a cadre of statewide forestry boards volunteers. You can find more than 1750 notable trees in 23 counties and Baltimore City listed on the Notable Tree Registry (NB: the list is always a work-in-progress.)

Bolton Hill has two trees on the list. One is the marvelously massive English walnut, Juglans regia, in Jenkins Alley behind 1325 Bolton Street. Fred Chalfont and Ray Iturralde put me right after I misidentified this tree as a Black walnut in August’s Bulletin.

Ray and Fred are volunteers on the Baltimore City Forestry Board and are among those searching out and measuring Baltimore’s notable trees.

In contrast, Bolton Hill’s second, brand-new City champion is almost comically small. The larger of a pair of plucky live oaks—so-called because they retain their green leaves over winter—at 225 W. Lanvale Street, this is a sidewalk tree outside Sallye Perrin and John von Briesen’s house.

Quercus virginiana legendarily dominates southern cities like Savannah, Georgia. Climate change may allow these trees to survive in Baltimore.

Roll on Over to the Samaritan Toilet Paper Drive

Samaritan Community at Festival on the Hill
Samaritan Table at a Past Festival

Let the good times roll with Samaritan Community! Toilet paper rolls, that is.

At Festival on the Hill on Saturday, October 14, Samaritan Community will be holding a toilet paper drive to help clients with one of their greatest necessities.

This bathroom staple is one of the most requested items at Samaritan Community’s food pantry. So please bring a roll or an entire package (pre-packaged, please) to the Samaritan Community table.

Then, stay and get some hot coffee or some delicious baked goods, with the proceeds benefiting Samaritan Community.

A human services 501c(3) non-profit in Bolton Hill, Samaritan Community provides a food pantry, a clothes closet, individual empowerment counseling, group support, emergency financial assistance and much more. For more information, visit the Samaritan Community website or their Facebook page.

Sign Up for Fall Classes at Jubilee Arts

Classes at Jubilee Arts, for everyone age six to seniors, start the week of October 2 and run through December 1. This fall’s offerings include sewing & fashion design, drawing, crafts, clay, fashion, African drumming, and a variety of dance styles, from ballet to step dancing.

All youth classes are $3/class or $24 for the full 8-week session, while adult classes are $6/class or $48 for the full 8-week session.

Through partnerships with area artists, writers, and dancers, including the Maryland Institute College of Art and Baltimore Clayworks, Jubilee Arts has been providing arts classes and more to the residents of the Sandtown-Winchester, Upton and surrounding neighborhoods in the 21217 zip code since 2009. The center is located at 1947 Pennsylvania Avenue, in an area with a rich history of African-American culture. The organization is bringing the arts back to life in this west Baltimore community. 

Space is limited, so reserve your spot by completing a registration form before the class start date. Please note that attendance in each class is required, and more than two unexcused absences will jeopardize your spot in the class.

African Drumming2017 Fall Classes

Classes run from October 2–December 1.

Ages 6-11: $3/class* 3:30–5 p.m.

Ballet – Monday
Ballet (ages 3-5) – Tuesday
Art – Tuesday 
Fashion/Sewing – Wednesday 
Clay ($10 flat fee) – Thursday

Ages 12-18: $3/class, 5:30-7:00 p.m.

Portfolio Drawing – Monday 
Youth In Business – Tuesday-Thursday (interview required)
Middle School Mentor – Wednesdays 4-5:00 p.m.

Adults: $6/class

Line Dance – Monday 6–7:30 p.m.
Sewing – Wednesday 6–8 p.m. 
Hand Dance – Thursday 6–7:30 p.m.

Multi-generational: $6/class

African Drumming – Tuesday 6:30–7:30 p.m.

Seniors: $10 flat fee

Creative Crafts – Tuesday 10 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
Clay – Wednesday 10 a.m.–12 p.m.

Be a Wisdom Warrior in Reservoir Hill

St. Francis Neighborhood Center youths
Some of the St. Francis participants

St. Francis Neighborhood Center in Reservoir Hill is seeking volunteers with a passion for teaching to join the Wisdom Warriors Power Project, their afterschool tutoring program.

For youth ages 5-14, the Power Project program runs Monday through Thursday, 3–6 p.m. Interested volunteers should contact

They also need volunteers and leaders for their monthly cleanups at German Park, a playground and park that surrounds the center on its north and east sides.

In partnership with the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council, they are hosting these cleanups on the last Saturday of every month from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Leaders should have experience leading volunteers and be comfortable with large groups.

German Park Cleanup
German Park Cleanup

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact or for more information. 

For those wanting to learn more about St. Francis and our neighbors to the north, put the Reservoir Hill Fall Stoop Night on your calendar: October 13.