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« The ABCs of Water Parks | Main | Celebrating our (urban) independence »
Wednesday
Jul252012

More Parks, Less Parking: A Family Guide to Mt. Vernon

When I moved to Mt. Vernon in 2009—as a Californian turned Pennsylvanian turned New Yorker—I knew little about the arts attractions that make it a cultural hub, the vibrant festivals that draw Baltimore residents to the neighborhood each year, or the families that call it home. Three years and two children later, I have come to truly appreciate what Mt. Vernon offers. 

My daughters attend story time at the Pratt Library with near-religious observance and think “museum painting” means the activity room in the basement of the Walters. We’ve enjoyed Artscape, the Baltimore Book Festival and FlowerMart together and we’ve found friends among local families—some who actively sought out this neighborhood, some who happened into it, and some who helped make it the inviting community it is today. 

The Mt. Vernon Children’s Park opened at Madison and Calvert Streets in 2006 after a community-led effort to create the area’s first recreation space specifically designed for families with children under age 10. It includes a sandbox, climbing gym with slide, hedge maze, water feature, shade trees and seating.  With the number of young children in the neighborhood growing, organizers are now planning a “tot spot” and other improvements. 

Beyond offering a regular play space, the park also hosts community gatherings throughout the year. This May, local parents organized the inaugural Mt. Vernon Children’s Book Swap. Our family arrived with armloads of well-loved board books, ready to trade. We left happy after two hours, new books in hand and kids ready for a nap. Organizers donated extra books that didn’t find a home to the new Mt. Vernon Place Early Childhood Education Center that will open this fall. 

All local families are invited to attend the next Mt. Vernon Children’s Park event, a community picnic to be held July 28, from 11:00a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (rain date is July 29). For those not thoroughly enjoying this triple-digit weather, bring your kids to play in the park’s water feature. Come with a picnic blanket and potluck item to join in the fun. 

Also coming this fall will be a Mt. Vernon consignment sale and family-friendly Halloween celebration. For up-to-date details on all upcoming events, join the neighborhood listserv by contacting Abra Shnur at abraeschnur@gmail.com or join the Midtown Baltimore Families Facebook group. To suggest a future event or get involved in planning, email Nicol Regan at nicolregan@gmail.com 

Dinah Winnick is a communications manager at UMBC and member of the UMBC Women’s Center Advisory Board. She recently created the Midtown Baltimore Families Facebook group, which is always open to new members. Dinah and her husband, Eli Pousson of Baltimore Heritage, live in Mt. Vernon with their daughters, ages two and nine weeks.

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