Holiday glow

December 19, 1996|By Sandra Crockett : SUN STAFF and Mike Giuliano : SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Nothing gets you in the holiday mood more quickly than a drive around the neighborhood to check out the lights and decorations. Well, almost nothing. How about a drive through neighborhoods around the city? The following list is just a sample of the many homes out there. Some are repeats from previous years that are worth another look. Others include a few surprises we found that are new to the list.

Naturally, the piece de resistance of lights in Baltimore is a block in Hampden. We hear that organizations plan bus trips to visit this one city block. But driving around town will offer glimpses of lighted beauty in many neighborhoods. Sometimes the fun of it is discovering places on your own. You never know what the next street will offer. However, here is a sampling of highlights that you might want to check out, along with maps to help you plan your routes.

City

1. Here's a beautiful example that shows that holiday lights this time of year are not always in celebration of Christmas. At 6211 Park Heights Ave., the lights are sparkling in celebration of Hanukkah. At night, the first and second floors are lighted up with symbols such as a giant menorah, a candelabrum used to hold nine candles and the Star of David.

2. Travel south on Park Heights to Northern Parkway. Make a left-hand turn and drive over to Falls Road and turn right. Make a left off Falls Road to a little street called Elmwood Road. There are some beautiful homes in Roland Park to enjoy. Curve around to the right on Longwood until Midvale Road. The home on the corner is 1 Midvale Road. This grand, old house makes us think of the holiday season during Victorian times. It looks as if Charles Dickens himself is going to pop out of the door at any second. It is surrounded by old, mature trees with "weeping" branches and some small ones that are showing the Christmas spirit with their sparkling lights. Instead of Dickens, a huge Santa Claus is on the front porch.

3. Go back to Falls Road, because no Christmas lights story in Baltimore can be written without including the now legendary 700 block of 34th Street in Hampden. However, make a left on 36th Street to get there. Make a right on Keswick and enjoy the view. The home at 3455 Keswick looks like it's trying to give the 700 block a run for its money. But there is strength in numbers, and the 700 block of 34th Street has the numbers. Someone fairly new to Baltimore heard about this street and asked, "Are those Christmas lights in Hampden really all that?" Yes! Those Christmas lights in Hampden really are all that and then some. It is really much more than lights. It's lights, every imaginable Christmas decoration one can possibly think of (and some you hadn't) and a grand display of neighborhood cooperation. When we were there one recent afternoon, a truck from BGE was parked in the street. No wonder. The folks on the 700 block 34th Street need an extra boost from the utility company this time of year.

4. Go back to Falls Road, but only as far as Cold Spring Lane. Head east on Cold Spring Lane and then make a left, heading north on The Alameda. Take The Alameda to Walker Avenue and look for the home at 1433 Walker Ave. Its small yard is exploding with candy canes and red bows. The door is wrapped in gold. A tiny, real plant is decorated, and there is a snowman along with plenty of poinsettias.

5. Leithwalk is right around the corner. Look for the home at 6207 Leithwalk. Now that looks like a real Christmas tree done up in the front yard. A nice Santa Claus fills the doorway.

Southwest

1. If you live in Howard County, a wonderful place to start your tour is at Way Cross Road and Valley Road. You can get to Valley Road from Frederick Road on the west side of the Columbia Pike. Valley Road is the next street after St. John's Lane. Turn left on Valley Road heading south. The home on the corner of Way Cross Road and Valley Road is spectacular! There are gorgeous flower arrangements, window snowflakes and a lighted Santa Claus. Adorable reindeer sure to please the little ones are in the front yard.

2. Turn right and go west on Way Cross Road until you arrive at MacAlpine Road and make a left. Keep going south until you get to the intersection of MacAlpine Road and MacAlpine Court. The home on the corner, on your left, is just about covered with wreaths and lights. The black shutters make a nice statement with the red poinsettias on the porch.

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