'Fantasy of Lights' begins even before you get there

This Just In...

November 29, 1995|By DAN RODRICKS

TO GET TO the Baltimore metropolitan region's new "Fantasy of Lights" display down Fort Howard Park, you drive way the heck down North Point Boulevard, then way the heck down North Point Road. It's worth the trip, and I'll tell you why in a minute. But first, a tip: Without causing an accident, check out the scenery along the way, too, because that's a fantastic sight in its own right.

Tune shops and lube shops, hair shops and nail shops, truck depots and body trimmers, car parts stores and opticians, fast-food places and diners and carryouts and pizza shops, bars with female "revues" and beach themes, bowling alleys, convenience stores and bingo parlors, car dealers, mobile home parks, towing companies, liquor stores and ceramics workshops, scrap metal dealers, video stores, flea markets and drugstores -- all lighted at night. And, somehow, it all looks beautiful this time of year.

Make sure you check out the neon on Pop's Tavern. Make sure you check out the Christmas lights on all the houses down near Lodge Forest and Edgemere, too.

Then, you pull into Fort Howard Park, just to the left of Fort Howard Veterans Hospital. The "Fantasy of Lights" fees are $8 for cars and $10 for vans. That sounds steep, maybe, but the money goes to pay for the light display, sponsored by Baltimore County parks and WQSR-FM. The fees are competitive with those at Symphony of Lights in Howard County ($12 per car) and Zoo Lights in the city ($4 per adult).

At "Fantasy of Lights," you drive at no more than 5 mph with your parking lights on and the radio tuned to a stop on the FM dial that plays continuous tacky Christmas music. You drive along the tree-lined roadways of the park -- I would love to see it with snow on the ground -- and the kids ooh and aah all over the place. The lights are terrific -- Santa shooting hoops, a toy soldier firing a cannon and bombs bursting in air, and the Cheshire cat disappearing, then reappearing in a tree. There's even an electric angler catching a rockfish. Cool stuff. The ride lasts about 25 minutes.

L And then, it's back up North Point and the rest of the show.

Travel tip

Quick, somebody tell Kathleen Kennedy Townsend she is not member of Congress -- you lost, Kate, remember? -- and she is not entitled to one of those infernal international junkets. KKT ain't nothin' but the lieutenant governor of Maryland, and she has no business spending $4,000 in taxpayer dollars to go to Ireland with the president. You want a trip to the old sod? Let Uncle Teddy pay.

Hiking, no biking

Cereal Dad, father of two and husband of TJI regular Cereal Mom, reports:

"We took a hike around Lake Roland for the first time in a few years. At the park entrance, we ran into my little boy's friend

from school, along with her father and two younger brothers. The kids climbed trees. The lake was placid and serene. The sitting area was inviting. As ugly as parts of Baltimore are, there are some truly beautiful spots. We all hiked across the light rail tracks and climbed into the little cave on the far shore of the lake. After a while, we walked back to the main area of the park. One of the kids scrambled up the hill to retrieve the bicycle he'd left in an unlocked picnic shed. Of course, it was gone."

Still learning

In a Towson computer superstore, we tried to get one of those $2,500 big-byte jobs to "play" the CD in it. Of course, we couldn't do it. But neither could the salesclerk. She pushed the same buttons we did and nothing happened. And yet, it didn't seem to surprise her. "I've only been working here three weeks," she said. "I took this job to learn about computers. But, you'd have to pay me a lot of money to learn this stuff!"

Quick hits

Pat Gillick? Sounds like a country-western singer. Gray Kirk/VanSant's "dancing executives" promotion for downtown Baltimore is ingenious, funny, well-executed; we laughed, we cried. But next time -- make Otis Warren wear a tutu! The busiest week of the year for the Naval Academy's athletic offices started with the telephone system going haywire. Monday, a big day for ticket sales for the Army-Navy game, the phones were down or tripping to wrong extensions. I hear AT&T was slow to fix it, too. Malaprop of the week: TJI reader George Watson heard his daughter describe a particularly bad day as "a calamity of errors."

Pistachio puzzle

Nikki Hopkins has a problem and she has written to me for help, which puts a glow in my cheeks. It's nice to feel wanted, needed, useful, even essential. Here's Nikki's problem:

"Why can't I find prepackaged pistachio ice cream for sale anywhere? I have tried Giant, SuperFresh, Food Lion, 7-Eleven, High's and Friendly's without success. Friendly's has pistachio ice cream, but not prepackaged in pints or half-gallons. Can you help?"

This must be how Ann Landers got started. If you know a pistachio source, a hot pistachio corner, a pistachio dealer,

whatever, give us a call, 332-6166.

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