Page 1

RIDING HIGH Local high school places in Quidditch World Cup. PAGE 3

Local toy drive has become a tradition by Scarlett Salem

Many people spend the holiday season searching high and low to find the perfect gifts for family and friends. But for some, it’s about being able to afford any gifts at all for their loved ones. Longtime Hyattsville resident Ruth Ann Frazier understands this. That’s why she has carried on the tradition so beloved to her late husband, Sonny, of giving toys to area children at an annual Christmas party. It all started in the Frazier living room in the 1980s, when the couple’s grandchildren were young. After a neighbor handmade a Santa costume for Sonny to wear at their holiday gathering, they began inviting children whose families had fallen on hard times. “Sonny loved Christmas and he loved kids,” recalled Frazier. Having grown up with a sister who had Down syndrome, he soon had the idea to add children with developmental challenges to the guest list as well. “We did this out of the house as a mom-and-pop thing. Sonny

PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID Permit # 43 Easton, MD 21601

TOYS continued on page 11



A look at area groups that could use your help over the holidays — and beyond. PAGE 11

How to care for a living Christmas tree — and where to donate it afterwards. PAGE 4

Hyattsville Life&Times

Vol. 8 No. 12

Hyattsville’s Community Newspaper

Thomas Roszkowski launches his skateboard over an obstacle at the Melrose Skate Park. PHOTO BY WILLIAM JENNE

University Hills faces sidewalk skirmish Some residents oppose city’s plan for roads by Paula Minaert

A project of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, the new amenity is part of the 3.4-acre park at Rhode Island Avenue and 41st Place, near the city’s southern border. It’s on the Northwest Branch Trail, overlooking the Anacostia River. The course of undulating concrete and sweeping ramps looks like it would be right at home in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden. But these flourishes — with names like “tailwhip,” “flared pyramid,” “bent penny” and “hubba” — aren’t just for show. The biggest attraction, said Wimer, is likely to be something called a “dragon-wing quarter-pipe,”

The city of Hyattsville puts a lot of work into repairing and improving its streets. But sometimes people don’t want their streets improved in the way the city proposes. A preliminary feasibility report for the University Hills neighborhood has met with vocal opposition and petitions against it from some of its residents. The report contains plans for road repairs, traffic calming and various stormwater management efforts. But the main sticking point for its opponents is sidewalks. There are few sidewalks in University Hills and the proposed design calls for installing them, following the city’s 2007 policy that all streets have them. “The city has policies to do with accessibility and safe routes for kids to school. No child should get hit or a disabled person or a senior who has trouble walking…they have the right to be able to move through our community in a safe manner,” said Mayor Marc Tartaro. But University Hills resident (and treasurer of the neighborhood’s civic association) Jim Menasian said, “I’ve heard this myth, that if they build sidewalks it’ll

SKATE continued on page 10

SIDEWALKS continued on page 12


Here comes Hyattsville’s skate park by Susie Currie

Hyattsville Life & Times PO Box 132 Hyattsville, MD 20781

December 2011

The last of the concrete has dried at Hyattsville’s newest attraction, Melrose Skate Park. And although there is still work to be done before it officially opens — putting in a basketball half-court, installing a bike rack and benches, landscaping — that’s enough for some younger residents. Designed for beginner-to-intermediate skateboarders, the course can also handle “bikes, scooters, just about anything they want to ride,” said construction superintendent Don Wimer of American Ramp Company. The Missouri-based company, which bills itself as “the world’s largest skate park provider,” also installed Mount Rainier’s skate park in 2009.

Included: The December 14, 2011 Issue of The Hyattsville Reporter — See Center Section

Page 2

Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2011

FromTheEditor Capturing the flag — and the spirit of the season by Paula Minaert

I get crabby this time of year, when I see Christmas decorations before Halloween and snide holiday ads. Christmas has been co-opted by the capitalists, I grumble. It’s consumerism run rampant. (Obviously, I’m only one of a long line of people who point this out.) A man hit and killed some people in the Home Depot parking lot on East-West Highway on Thanksgiving Day when he lost control of his car. He was there because he thought it was open — because some stores actually were open that day. Others planned to open at midnight, to

A community newspaper chronicling the life and times of Hyattsville Mailing address: PO Box 132, Hyattsville, MD 20781 Hyattsville Life & Times is published monthly by Hyattsville Community Newspaper, Inc., a 501c(3) nonprofit corporation. Interested reporters should send their e-mail addresses to the editor to be reminded of deadlines and receive internal news. Articles and news submitted may be edited. The deadline is the last week of the month for the following month’s issue. Letters to the editor and opinions are encouraged. For all e-mail correspondence with HL&T: news, features, tips, advertising and business write to hyattsvillelifeandtimes@gmail. com. To submit articles, letters to the editor, etc., e-mail Executive Editor Paula Minaert 301.335.2519 Managing Editor Susie Currie 301.633.9209 Editorial Intern Scarlett Salem Production Ashley Perks Advertising 301.531.5234 Writers & Contributors Victoria Hille, William Jenne, Valerie Russell, Kimberly Schmidt, Fred Seitz, Hugh Turley Board of Directors Julia Duin - President Chris Currie - Vice President Joseph Gigliotti - General Counsel Paula Minaert - Secretary Peggy Dee, Bart Lawrence, Karen J. Riley Susie Currie - Ex Officio Circulation: Copies are distributed monthly by U.S. Mail to every address in Hyattsville. Additional copies are distributed to libraries, selected businesses, community centers and churches in the city. Total circulation is 9,300. HL&T is a member of the National Newspaper Association.

give eager shoppers a head start on Black Friday. Whatever happened to regarding this holiday as sacrosanct? But I saw some things recently that put me in a better frame of mind — right here in Hyattsville. On December 3, I saw a long line of police cars parked on 43rd Avenue by Hyattsville Elementary School. Then they started moving, and you couldn’t miss it. Every single vehicle turned on its lights and its siren, and they slowly drove in a long (and noisy) procession to the Mall at Prince George’s. It was the annual Santa with a Badge event, where our city police officers, with help from other local law enforcement agencies, take needy children on a shopping spree for Christmas. I don’t know about the children, but I loved the parade, especially the cars with speakers that made a “vroom-vroom” sound. The whole thing made me feel good. Then that afternoon, I went to the first annual Hyattsville Heroes Bowl: Hyattsville’s Finest (the police department) versus its Bravest (the Volunteer Fire

CHRIS CURRIE Hyattsvilleʼs police officers and firefighters pray together following the Heroes Bowl on December 3. For a look at the game, see page 13.

Department) in a flag football game. The game raised money for the Sonny Frazier Toy Drive, which also provides gifts for needy children (see page 1).


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These are people whose work is helping city residents — and they spent most of a Saturday, on their own time, doing something else that benefited others.

Of course, they had a lot of fun, too. The players tackled each other, pulled each other down in the dirt and talked trash. At one point, one of the Finest picked up one of the Bravest and held him upside down. Just for fun. The Finest scored the first touchdown, courtesy of Alonzo Washington, assistant to County Councilmember Will Campos. In the end, the Bravest won, but no one’s quite sure of the score. I heard different ones, and that’s as it should be. It wasn’t about the score. The following Thursday, I worked at St. Jerome’s Café. Several members of the nearby Second Washington Chapel on Gallatin Street came and brought gifts for everyone who came for lunch. They cut bread and served pasta. And before we served, one woman from the Chapel led us in a call-and-response song. It begins, “I don’t know but I’ve been told…streets of heaven are paved with gold.” We all joined in. All this is small-town America at its best. It’s our friends and neighbors focusing on what’s really important. And they do this kind of thing all year round.

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Christmas in Hyattsville past by Peggy Dee

Unlike the Christmas season of today, which begins the day after Halloween, Christmas in the early days of Hyattsville truly began the day after Thanksgiving. Mothers would gather up their children, walk down to the streetcar access below Route 1, and board the car for downtown Washington. In those days, there were several large department stores in that area, and each one took great pride in decorating its windows for the holidays. The families would travel along F and G streets and down 7th Street to see each window. Inside each department store, the mothers and children marveled at the arrival of Santa Claus in a lovely setting of Toyland. After a delicious hot dog or hamburger lunch at one of the stand-up lunch counters of the downtown five-and-dime stores, the exhausted families took the Branchville streetcar back to Hyattsville. As the big day drew near, the volume of Christmas cards was so heavy that the Post Office hired temporary mail carriers, many

of whom were college students. It was not unusual to see your regular mailman in the morning making his daily round and a temporary hire delivering more mail in the afternoon. Many families had open houses, where people would go to admire the decorations of their neighbors and enjoy a delicious cup of hot chocolate. In those days, the neighbors tell me, the residents did not decorate as extensively as they do today. Colored lights outlined the outside of the houses and a few Nativity scenes were spotted on a few lawns. Some families chose to put up the tree on Christmas Eve after the kids were safely tucked away in their beds. Listening to the caroling just outside your door was a special treat on a cold, windswept December evening. Several churches conducted midnight services on Christmas Eve and, no matter how cold the night, the churchgoers walked home. Many of the original neighbors on my street remember the Nativity scene outside the city building on Jefferson Street. Seeing Santa Claus waving at

everyone from a top of a fire engine that traveled throughout the city was a special treat for the kids. My neighbors along 41st Avenue relayed to me that each Christmas morning the families went door-to-door to wish each other a Merry Christmas. Plates of homemade cookies and gingerbread were passed around. If we were fortunate enough to have snow the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, Hamilton Street between 42nd and 40th was completely blocked off so the kids could try out their new sleds. Much like our practice of today, our city sponsored a tree lighting ceremony, with carolers and a visit from the man himself, Santa Claus The holiday celebrations continued through the week. A few of the neighbors would host house parties on New Year’s Eve, where those attending could safely walk home. Baked ham and mashed potatoes with black-eyed peas and pumpkin and mincemeat pies was the usual menu for New Year’s Day.  These celebrations in our dear city created memories that will last forever.

Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2011

Page 3

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teresa williams The Eleanor Roosevelt Ridgebacks prepare to take on Pleasantville High School at the Quidditch World Cup V, held last month in New York.

Local Harry Potter fans place in Quidditch World Cup by Susie Currie

The last Harry Potter movie has come and gone. But some local fans at Eleanor Roosevelt High School have found a way to keep alive the magic of J.K. Rowling’s phenomenally successful seven-book series. The Roosevelt Ridgebacks, one of eight high school teams to compete in last month’s Quidditch World Cup V, took third place in their division. In the books, Quidditch is billed as the sport of wizards, played on airborne broomsticks with three types of levitating balls in play. In 2005, students at Vermont’s Middlebury College adapted it for “muggles,” Rowling’s term for non-magical folk. Since then, the sport has spread to 300 universities in the U.S. and a dozen other countries, according to the International Quidditch Association. (Motto: “The Only Fantasy Sport That Will Make You Break A Sweat”) About 100 teams — mostly from colleges in the U.S., but also from Canada, New Zealand and Argentina, according to organizers — gathered in New York November 12 and 13 for the fifth annual Quidditch World Cup. There was plenty to do between games; Ridgeback co-captain Matthew Williams described the festival atmosphere as “oddly similar to walking through the tournament in Book 4.” He likens the game to a cross between rugby, tag, flag football and dodge ball. Play is on an oval field with seven members per team, and players must

keep a broomstick between their legs at all times. “It can be pretty vicious because you’re allowed to tackle,” says Roosevelt sophomore Ruby Dessiatoun, who was part of the tournament team. Reading the books isn’t a prerequisite for being on the team, but it helps. “I think you really have to be a fan,” said Dessiatoun, who is also on the school swim team. “People look at you like you’re insane when you say that you play Quidditch. You have to be able to say, ‘I love Harry Potter, and this is who I am.’ ” The Ridgebacks, named for a type of dragon in the books, practiced two or three times a week to prepare. They were the only Maryland high school team to compete; at the college level, University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University represented the state. Williams and fellow senior co-captain Olivia Guerrieri started the team three years ago, after Williams learned of the sport while visiting his brother at New York University. Now there are 40 Roosevelt players, including some Hyattsville residents, with a team for each grade. The top 10 went to the competition. The next time the two co-captains attend the tournament, it will be as a Division I or II team (designations reserved for the collegiate level). Williams says he’s not the only one who made sure that colleges had Quidditch teams before applying to them. His own first choice, Emerson, “has finished in the top 10 the last few years [of the tournament].”

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Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2011

MissFloribunda Dear Miss Floribunda, I see live decorated Christmas trees for sale in stores and online and am tempted to start acquiring these for the holidays instead of buying a cut tree. However, your “Christmas in July” column has made me look ahead and realize that in 20 years I could be facing a forest of conifers in my yard. Do you know of a place I could donate my trees after taking off the decorations? Ecologically Earnest on Emerson Street Dear Ecologically Earnest, I have good news for you. The Franciscan Monastery at 1400 Quincy Street NE, Washington, D.C. — only about 2 miles

away from Hyattsville — will accept live Christmas trees after the holidays or in the spring as part of a tree-planting program. The person to call is Ben Hill, president of the Franciscan Monastery Garden Guild, at 703.899.6592 to arrange for a time to deliver it. In addition, the City of Hyattsville will pick up your tree and take it to Magruder Park after the holidays to have it mulched. However, you should not imagine that it is ecologically reprehensible to buy a cut tree. Tree farms replace the trees they sell with new plantings. What I consider ecologically irresponsible is to buy artificial trees, which use up resources and pollute the environment in their manufacture. They cannot be mulched.

(On the other hand, my niece Meretricia and her husband Bling insist that they should be congratulated for getting their silver metallic tree from Freecycle, thus saving both the tree and the environment.) If you plan to get a live tree and donate it later, here is a warning from an expert. Dr. Douglas Firr advises against getting a live conifer taller than 5 feet because they are likely to have severed roots. Even the smaller trees should first be kept in a cool garage or basement for at least a week after purchase and should not be kept in on display in your warm living room for more than 10 days. Otherwise, the tree will wake from dormancy and then suffer shock when it goes outside. Keeping it indoors any length

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of time requires some skill — for example, knowing just how much to water it. Another alternative is to purchase manageable shrubs you can maintain as house plants, such as the Norfolk Island Pine or those rosemary topiaries graced with red bows. The rosemary “tree” can be planted in your garden or kept right in your kitchen. As you may know, rosemary is a tasty addition to many dishes, and is the main herb in Provençal cuisine. As you add to your collection outside, you could develop a charming fragrant hedge at the same time. Or you could choose the slowgrowing boxwood. Trimmed to a Christmas-tree shape, they are sold in December and can be decorated. It would be possible to keep one in a large pot for a number of years and bring it in

each year for quite some time. Once planted outside, boxwoods make elegant hedges. Now, on the West Coast and in Europe, it is possible to actually rent a tree and return it after the holidays. I’m hoping this exciting trend will reach us soon. Right now, probably the best idea for someone “ecologically earnest” is to make a gift purchase of a tree from one of the many online organizations that solicit such help. They use your donation to plant a healthy tree where it’s most needed. To discuss these and other gardening questions, please come to the next meeting of the Hyattsville Horticultural Society at 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 17. This month it will be at the home of Herb and Victoria Hille at 4101 Gallatin Street.

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Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2011


News Briefs William LaChance III, a member of Boy Scout Troop 224 in Hyattsville, has earned the rank of Eagle Scout. For his Eagle project, he planned and implemented the repair and painting of picnic tables at Magruder Park, working with the Scouts of Troop 224. This successful project will give years of picnic fun to the people of Hyattsville. Coach Dafydd Evans announced that the DeMatha varsity soccer Stags (20-0-0) have earned the top spot in national rankings by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. The team, which completed its second undefeated season, had been ranked #2 nationally for most of the season, behind undefeated St. Benedict’s Prep. The DeMatha team is ranked #1 by the Washington Post and recently won the WCAC Championship. A Thanksgiving Day tragedy unfolded in the Hyattsville Home Depot parking lot. A 79-year-old driver had what police are calling a “medical emergency” and lost control of his car, hitting six pedestrians and sending five to the hospital. Two of them have since died: Fredys CastilioGiron, 41, of Hyattsville, and Jose Cristino Sanchez-Rosa, of Falls Church, Va., who is believed to be about the same age, according to police reports. The store, located at 3301 East West Highway, was closed for the November 24 holiday.

susie currie Michele Luby admires a set of ornaments during St. Jerome’s Annual Christmas Bazaar, held on December 3.

Speed cameras will probably be installed in the city by March or April, depending on council actions and approval, says Police Chief Douglas Holland. At its December 5 meeting, city council members reviewed a proposal by Affiliated Computer Services, Inc., which has



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other such programs in the area. Five streets will be analyzed for cameras: Baltimore Avenue, EastWest Highway, 42nd Avenue, Adelphi Road and Ager Road. ACS will contract with a third party to conduct the site analysis. The Hyattsville Police Department has been accredited — for the fifth time — by the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies. That means it satisfactorily completed a process of thorough agency-wide self-evaluation and an outside review by a team of independent assessors. The accreditation is good for three years. Hyattsville has been named a sustainable community (one of only five) in the state of Maryland. This designation gives the city government, residents, and businesses access to special state funding, such as from the Community Legacy program, State Highway Administration retrofit programs and Neighborhood Business Works. “We’re very proud of this,” said Community Development Manager Jim Chandler. Congratulations to the Historical Association of Riverdale Park on Images of America: Riverdale Park, the latest in a series by Arcadia Publishing. (Hyattsville’s, you may remember, was published in 2008). Donald Lynch, Tom Alderson and Melissa Avery co-authored the 128-page book, which is full of archival pictures that capture the past of our neighbor to the north. Find it at area bookstores or online retailers, including www.arcadiapublishing. com.

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NatureNearby Empty nests and feeder raiders by Fred Seitz

The recent big drop of leaves has revealed homes of many Hyattsville residents that we see and hear for much of the year, but often take for granted. A single Norway maple near the tennis courts in Magruder Park has at least four nests that were hidden by foliage during the spring and summer. Some are bird nests. But at least one belongs to one of our most ubiquitous rodents, the gray squirrel. Large bundles of leaves are now visible in the crotches of many trees throughout Hyattsville, attesting to the high concentration of this most familiar mammal. Of the three large tree-climbing squirrels in Maryland, the gray squirrels are the only ones in this area. (The endangered Delmarva fox squirrels are limited to the Eastern shore and mostly live in loblolly pines; red squirrels live further west in the state and have a preference for evergreens and pinecones.) In their melanistic form, they are almost entirely

black. These black squirrels are descendants of a group that was brought from Ontario to the National Zoo. Some escaped and they spread to many areas near Washington. The abundance of gray squirrels today is stunning compared to the late 19 th and early 20th centuries. Much of the Eastern U.S. forest had been cut at that time for farmland and there was concern that the gray squirrel could become extinct. However, they have recovered and thrive in the suburbs and parks throughout the area. Gray squirrels will eat pinecone seeds, but are best known for harvesting nuts like acorns, hickory and beech. When they bury the nut in the ground, they push it in with their noses. This helps to scent-mark the spot, making it easier to find when hunger calls. They are also fond of many agricultural crops, such as corn, but will eat tree buds and insects when nuts and other foods are not available. They breed twice a year, in the

spring and fall, giving birth to between three and five young each time. Their nests are occasionally raided by raccoons, which will augment their diet with the helpless baby squirrels. The surviving young can leave the nest in about 4 to 5 weeks. The grays do share this area with both Southern and Northern flying squirrels, both of which are exclusively nocturnal. Though seen far less often, they may be as plentiful here as their gray treeclimbing cousins. As anyone with a bird feeder can attest, both the gray squirrels and the flying squirrels are frequent raiders of these backyard pit stops. You can increase the chances of seeing a flying squirrel by having a light near the bird feeder and periodically turning it on at night. The night light at the feeder may also reveal some other nocturnal visitors, such as mice collecting fallen seed, early evening birds and cats who may prey on any of the other visitors.

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No. 230• December 14, 2011

Know your recyclables

Prince George’s County continues to expand the list of materials accepted for recycling in their blue Toters. The following items can be left curbside for collection: Glass food and beverage containers, empty aerosol cans, aluminum, bimetal, ferrous, and steel food and beverage containers, aluminum foil, metal coat hangers, all paper, gable-top milk and juice cartons, catalogs, flattened corrugated cardboard boxes, frozen food packaging, hard- and soft- covered books, kraft paper bags and wrapping paper, magazines, newspapers with inserts, paper board cereal and cracker boxes, telephone books, bagged grocery bags, shrink wrap, and stretch-film, drinking cups/glasses, flower pots, narrow-neck containers with code identification numbers 1 through 7, wide-mouth containers such as peanut butter, yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise and whipped topping, margarine/butter tubs, prescription bottles, and a partridge in a pear tree. Just kidding about the partridge.

Consider composting

City Code permits composting, provided residents use an enclosed container. An ordinary plastic garbage can or storage box can be turned into a compost bin. Composters are also available for purchase at lawn and garden stores. An enclosed container will prevent rodents and other pests from feasting on your compost. It should also prevent any smells from bothering your neighbors!

Redirect the rain

Rain barrels and rain gardens are great ways to redirect water and use it to improve the health of your yard – as well as our entire community.

Learn to like your bike

The City participated in Bike to Work Day in May.

A wealth of resources for bike commuters is available at

And the bus and the train

Our City is rich with alternative transportation options, including Metro rail and bus, the MARC at Riverdale Park, and Prince George’s County’s The Bus service.

And, of course, good ol’ fashioned sneaker power

The City participated in International Walk to School Day in October, encouraging kids to get to school through alternative means. Learn more at

Wind powered

The City of Hyattsville runs on wind power, and has the US Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Community certification to prove it!

Tree friendly

In 2011 the City celebrated our twentieth year as a Tree City, as designated by the Arbor Day Foundation.

Water water everywhere

Prince George’s County has adopted a Watershed Implementation Plan. Learn more about clean water through the Anacostia Watershed Society,

Deck the halls

If you’re still waiting to dress your nest with holiday dazzle, consider going green. If you choose a real tree, see our pick-up dates for recycling below. Consider reusable gift wrap, or paper made with a high recycled content. Don’t forget your reusable totes when you head out shopping. And LED lights can brighten the season and lower your electricity bill, too.

Snow! Let it

2010’s snowfall broke records. Chances are this year won’t be quite as noteworthy, but the Department of Public Works is already preparing for whatever comes our way. Here are some important tips to keep in mind during any winter weather event. Our highest priority is ensuring that emergency vehicles – police, fire, and ambulance – can get through. Our personnel clear one lane on primary roads first, and work from there. During heavier snowfalls, the first pass of the plow may still leave a thin layer of snow behind.

also helps protect vehicles from salt spray and sliding vehicles. If you do park on the street, please park as close to the curb as possible. Remember, clearing sidewalks is the responsibility of every property owner. Normally we ask that sidewalks be cleared within 24 hours of the storm’s conclusion, but in cases of heavy snowfall, we may announce a longer window.

Residents can help by sticking close to home. We understand that military, healthcare and other essential personnel need to report, but keeping unnecessary vehicles off the road is important.

Do not plow, blow, or shovel snow into the street. Please shovel snow into the front yard. Snow mounds are hazardous to motorists, and increase the time required to clear all City streets. Property owners who hire contractors to clear their sidewalks and driveways should ensure that their contractors understand this requirement.

If possible, avoiding parking on the street. Not only does this make plowing go more quickly, it

For more information, including a list of primary roads, visit

Claus Applause judging, 6:00 PM City-wide

Jan. 2


There are countless ways to make greener choices. Not every choice works for every individual or family, but some choices can be considered by nearly everyone. Here’s a look back at topics we covered over the last year:

Dec. 14


The Department of Recreation and the Arts announces the 2012 Martin Luther King, Jr. poster contest. Hyattsville students – students who either reside within the City limits or attend a school located within the City limits - in grades 5-8 are invited to enter. The theme for this year’s contest is centered around Dr. King’s commitment to community and service, which were components that he believed were essential to the struggle for equality. See more on the theme, as well as guidelines and official rules at Entries are due no later than January 13, 2012 at 5:00 PM. Questions? Call 301/985-5020.

This is the twelfth and final in a series of stories about how City residents can make small changes to have a positive impact on our environment. While Going Green is coming to a close, this list is chock full of resolutions residents can consider for a greener 2012 and beyond.

DECEMBER 2011/ JANUARY 2012 Dec. 26


Toward a greener New Year


IN OTHER NEWS... Judging for the 2012 Claus Applause Awards will take place Wednesday, December 14 beginning at 6:00 PM. The award recipients will be announced no later than Monday, December 19. Check the City’s website,, to see who was the glitziest and the greenest.


Page HR2

Christmas trees can be put out for pick-up with Yard Waste after the holidays. January 2012 Yard Waste pick-up dates are 1/9, 1/23, and 1/30; however, we will accept the trees during any pickup, if you deck the halls into March. Please remove all lights, tinsel, ornaments, and other decorations before placing curbside. No bags are required.


The City is now using Nixle to send public safety alerts and information via both email and text message. This system replaces the SafeCity website previously in use. Many of our neighboring jurisdictions also use Nixle to send out information. If you have a account, there is no need to create a new one. Simply log in and add the City of Hyattsville to your wire. New to Nixle? Register at or enroll using the widget online at


The City is closed on Monday, December 26, 2011, and Monday, January 2, 2012 in observance of the Christmas and New Year holidays. As a result, there is no Yard Waste pick-up either of those weeks, City-wide. Questions? Please call the Department of Public Works at 301/985-5032.


City Administrative offices closed. No Yard Waste collection, City-wide. City Administrative offices closed. No Yard Waste collection, City-wide.

Jan. 9, 8:00 PM

City Council Meeting

Jan. 13

Deadline for MLK poster contest submissions.

Jan. 16

Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, City Administrative offices closed No Yard Waste collection, City-wide

Jan. 17, 9:00 AM

Pre-registration opens for Spring Break and Summer camps, City residents only (General registration opens February 8.)

Jan. 18, 8:00 PM

City Council Work Session

Jan. 23, 8:00 PM City Council Meeting

Unless otherwise noted, all events take place at the City Municipal Building, 4310 Gallatin Street.



from all of us at the city of Hyattsville

The Department of Recreation and the Arts will offer Spring Break Camp Escape the week of April 2 through 6, as well as our Summer Camp program beginning in June 2012. City resident pre-registration opens Tuesday, January 17. General registration opens Monday, February 8. See our next edition for details.


The City’s 126th Anniversary Parade will take place on Saturday, April 14, 2012. Community groups, youth groups, classic car drivers, marching bands, step teams, fire and police units, and other civic organizations are invited to participate! Please visit for details, including a registration form.


Are you on Facebook? You can now keep up with City events and happenings at When you see Vainglorious, the silver metal bird sculpture at Centennial Park, you’ll know you’re in the right place. He is kind enough to serve as the City’s wall photo.

Page 8

Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2011


The 25th Annual Winter Festival of Lights is a drive-through display featuring over a million twinkling lights along 2.5 miles. Financial donations for county charities will be accepted at the gate. $5 per car or van for a single visit; $10 for a multi-visit pass. Free on December 25. 5 to 9:30 p.m. daily until January 1. Watkins Regional Park, 301 Watkins Park Drive, Upper Marlboro. 301.699.2456.

Beginning January 6

Calling all parents! Today marks the start of the spring semester for the Parent and Child Program, where there will be playtime, crafts, and other structured activities for your preschoolers. Children must be accompanied by an adult. $50 per semester for one child, $75 per semester for 2 children. Every Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Magruder Park Recreation Center, Magruder Park.

Through January 9

Part of Gaylord National Resort’s Christmas on the Potomac program, ICE!, will feature scenes from the Dreamworks movie “Merry Madagascar,” created from two million pounds of ice. Tickets start at $25; discounts for children and seniors. Free for ages 3 and under. National Harbor, 201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor. Hours vary; for more information, visit

December 17 to 23

The National Capital Trackers return with the annual Holiday, Trains, and Planes show, a display of miniature trains, villages, tunnels and depots. Free with museum admission. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. College Park Aviation Museum, 1985 Cpl. Frank Scott Drive, College Park. 301.864.6029.

December 18

Looking for a unique show to go to this winter? Then check out Part 2 of Aerial Works in Progress featuring students of Arachne Aerial Arts along with other Stephen Clapp regional artists. $12. 4 p.m. Joe’s MoveArachne Aerial Arts will perform at Joe’s Movement Emporium on December 18. ment Emporium, 3309 Bunker Hill Road, Mount Rainier. 301.699.1819. and Discussion with Tad Lapinski, a University of Maryland art professor, fea- Learn how to make your own gifts this or call 301.965.4000. tures an afternoon presentation that will year by signing up for a Glass Ornaprovide a rare opportunity to hear from the ments class. Participants will learn December 16 What’s a better way of getting into the hol- artist amidst his own works. He recounts how to blow colored glass ornaments iday spirit then making your own holiday- his inspirations and recollects decades of as part of the Introduction to Glass themed scrapbook? Having all the mate- experience as an internationally acclaimed series. No previous glass experience rials provided for you. Join the Xtreme artist and educator. Free. 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. is required. Enroll online at www. Teens for holiday scrapbooking - all you Brentwood Arts Exchange, 3901 Rhode $165. 1 to 4 p.m. have to bring is your M-NCPPC Youth ID. Island Avenue, Brentwood. 301.277.2863. DC Glassworks, 5346 46th Avenue. Ages 10 to 17. Free w/ M-NCPPC Youth 301.927.8271. ID. 7 to 10 p.m. Rollingcrest-Chillum When was the last time you played laser Community Center, 6120 Sargent Road, tag? Well ready, set…join the Xtreme Through December 24 Teens for an evening of laser tag fun! Santa will be stopping through the Mall Chillum. 301.853.2005. Ages 10-17. $14. 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Prince at Prince Georges this year and children December 17 George’s Plaza Community Center, 6600 can get their picture taken with him at A close-up discussion at the Artist’s Talk Adelphi Road. 301.864.1611. the Center Court in front of Macy’s. $21

Spring Break Camp Escape April 2nd - 6th Early registration opens January 17 for City of Hyattsville residents. General registration begins February 8 for all. Camp Escape offers a fun-filled Spring Break week for kids ages 5-9 and 10-13. Camp takes place at the City of Hyattsville’s Magruder Park Recreation Center, 3911 Hamilton Street. Our staff strives to foster creativity and confidence in each camper.

Campers will enjoy: • Games • Sports • Arts & Crafts • Eco-themed activities For hours, fees, and registration information, please call 301-985-5020 or visit

Curious to see which homes were deemed most festive in this year’s

Claus Applause Awards?

Judging takes place on Wednesday, December 14.

Check the City’s website or the green edition of the Hyattsville Reporter, mailed to homes the week of December 19, for a complete list.

Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2011

Page 9

and up for photo packages. Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. 3500 East West Highway. 301.559.8844.

by January 4 to receive a gift. Ages 1 to 10. Free. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Bladensburg Community Center, 4500 57th Avenue, Bladensburg. 301.277.2124.

December 30

January 10

Close out the year by stepping back in time with The Calverts by Candlelight, an evening of period music, seasonal decorations, and self-guided tours of the historic mansion where visitors can meet members of the Calvert household. $5; free for ages 12 and under. 6 to 9 p.m. Riversdale House Museum, 4811 Riverdale Road, Riverdale Park. 301.864.0420.

January 7

Bring your children to celebrate the Hispanic tradition of the Three Kings Day, which commemorates the journey of the three wise men. Enjoy music, refreshments and surprises! RSVP

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The Youth Choir and Vocetti will present their Winter Community Concert, followed by a reception. Free. 7:30 p.m. College Park Arts Exchange, Old Parish House, 4711 Knox Road. College Park. 301.927.3013.

301-559-0707 Across West Hyattsville Metro Station Corner of Ager Road & Hamilton St.

January 14

Dress up in your black-tie best for the Twelfth Night Ball. Celebrate the end of the season at this regency-style ball at the Riversdale Mansion, complete with dance lessons and live period music. Registration required by January 4. $30. 7:30 p.m. 4811 Riverdale Road, Riverdale Park. 301.864.0420.

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Page 10

Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2011

A CHILDREN’S CRUSADE The boy who first proposed the skate park during a presentation before the Hyattsville City Council in 2003 has long since moved from the area. We tracked him down to tell him that the idea was finally a reality, and here’s what he had to say in an e-mail.

WILLIAM JENNE Thomas Roszkowski of Silver Spring coaches his son Grey (3) at the Melrose Skate Park.


continued from page 1

which features a curved lip and is five feet at its highest point. Three vertical slabs of concrete next to it will become a mosaic depicting native shad and herring, a nod to the fish ladder just beyond. Mount Rainier artist Valerie Theberge, who has done several public art projects, expects to complete the glass-tiled mural installation by mid-December. After that, said M-NCPPC landscape architect Chris Colvin, work on the basketball half-court should begin. Previously, there had been a full court at the park, as well as an adjacent soccer field.

A summer 2008 survey concluded that a half-court would “accommodate most [basketball] use that occurs.” In 2009, the city used a state grant to upgrade the soccer facilities, purchasing new equipment and bleachers and adding a pedestrian bridge. Contractors began installing the skate park in early October and had until December 9 to finish. After the half-court is completed, said Colvin, landscapers will add a bioretention area, shade trees and flower beds. The trail, which used to run behind the basketball court, will be realigned closer to the street. Eventually, that trail will be con-

I can’t tell you how hilarious and awesome it is you guys are finally getting a skate park. I’d long forgotten about it, but it made my day. Here’s the Spark Notes about how that came about: Our group of friends skateboarded a lot in 6th and 7th grade. We never really had a place to skate and had to drive over to the Bay Bridge or Bowie for the nearest ramps. Several times we were kicked out of the Justice Center, “Tiny Park” (at the bottom of 42nd place) and St. Jerome’s school lots for skating. Our English teacher [at St. Jerome’s], Ms. Volpini, assigned us homework to write a letter to our City Council representative, so my Dad [ Jerry Powers] suggested we ask for a skate park. I wrote it and Ms. Volpini suggested I send it in, so we passed it around school and got 50-some signatures. Lots of kids just signed it who had never even skated; they just thought it was cool, which was great. A few months later, we heard back they might actually do it. They had a budget meeting out at the P.G. County courthouse and the skate park was an option for the money, so about seven of us wore our pads and helmets and carried our boards in and sat through the whole thing. It was hilarious — lots of awkward stares. Congrats! That’s great that [Hyattsville] kids will finally have a park. Tim Powers nected to the neighborhood with the Melrose Access Trail, which is planned to run from the service entrance at 41st Place up to Crittenden Street. So far, county officials haven’t pinpointed an opening date. Based on normal projected con-

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struction schedules, said Colvin, the park would open in March “as long as the weather holds” and the asphalt companies stay open. “It’s been so mild. This time last year there was snow on the ground,” he recalled. “We had


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was Santa and the kids were elves,” explained Frazier, a Ward 5 councilmember since 1997. “It was priceless; I wouldn’t change those memories for anything.” After his death in 2002, Hyattsville police Sergeant Suzie Johnson and her family stepped in to continue and expand the program, moving the party to a larger space and adding donation spots around town. In the weeks before the party, boxes at the local Safeway, Magruder Park and the municipal building slowly fill with new, unwrapped toys. Frazier’s break from the event soon ended, and now it remains largely a family affair, with her daughter and grandchildren helping along with a group of committed volunteers. “Granddad always made Christmas special for us,” said grandson Eddie Beall. “This is our way of continuing that for others.” The group usually meets in October to start soliciting donations, rounding up toys, and compiling a list of children to receive them. They get children’s names from schools, the police and fire departments and code-enforcement officers. Frazier says that the number of toys collected is usually “well over 500, but this year it will be more because of the [Hyattsville Heroes Bowl] game.”

Page 11

That charity event, held December 3 at Magruder Park, pitted the city police against the fire department volunteers in a flag football game. Spectators were asked to bring either a small cash donation or an unwrapped toy. The final tally, said Beall, was $1,624. The Hyattsville City Council had voted to match those donations up to $1,000, and also to increase its annual donation to $500. Donations come from others in the community too, with groups ranging from Outback Steakhouse to local parents spearheading toy collection efforts. Frazier appreciates all the local support. “It’s not one person, it’s not 15 persons, it’s just the community,” she said. “The community comes together, each in their own little way, and makes it possible.” Now, the Sonny Frazier Toy Drive reaches more Hyattsville children than ever. “What started with maybe 5, 6, or 7 children is now about 100,” Frazier said. The toy drive culminates in a party for the families, complete with DJ (Ruth Ann’s grandson Clint Beall), lunch and even Santa himself, in the same suit that Sonny wore for all those years. Parents may choose up to five toys per child. The party is one of Frazier’s favorite moments of the toy drive. “I’m a people person and what I get the most enjoyment out of is … just watching the people and seeing their reactions.”

LEND A HELPING HAND The holiday season tends to bring out people’s desire to lend a helping hand to others. Here are some ways you can volunteer around the city, both now and throughout the year.

day, seven days a week. To sign up and find out what shifts are available for the week, call Glut at 301.779.1978 starting at 9 a.m. on Sundays. 4005 34th Street, Mt. Rainier.

St. Jerome’s Café provides hot meals to the needy every Thursday from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Volunteers prepare, cook, deliver and serve the lunch at St. Jerome Church, 5205 43rd Avenue. Donations of food are also welcome. If you are interested in cooking, serving or donating, please contact Terry Enfield at 301.864.9260.

Eco City Farms welcomes volunteers every Saturday to pitch in at this community farm, and learn about urban farming in the process. For more information and to sign up, email 4913 Crittenden Street, Edmonston. 301.288.1125.

Community Place Café at First United Methodist Church serves lunches every weekday but Thursday from 12:30 to 1:30 pm. 6201 Belcrest Road. Contact Deborah Commodore at 301.927.6133 after 1 p.m. on weekdays. The Sonny Frazier Holiday Toy Drive is accepting volunteers for its annual party, on December 17. Volunteers help with party activities and watch children while their parents go pick out gifts for them. High school students needing service hours are welcome! To volunteer or donate, contact Ruth Ann Frazier at 301.779.5428. Community Forklift could be considered a thrift-store version of Home Depot, except that volunteers can earn $5 per hour in store credit. Donations of building materials such as furniture, tools and cabinets are accepted on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 4671 Tanglewood Drive, Edmonston. 301.985.5180. GLUT Food Coop is a worker-managed cooperative that gives volunteers $6.15 in store credit per hour. There are three shifts a

For years, Milton and Linda McGehee delivered care packages to Walter Reed Hospital. Then, he said, “I found out that you can buy a box at the post office for $12.50 and send it anywhere in the world,” he says. “You can put in snack food and toiletries and magazines.” Now, the couple mails care packages to service members in the U.S. and overseas, and invites others to do the same. For more information, call him at 301.559.0864. The local chapter of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a fraternal and charitable organization, just celebrated its 114th birthday. It donates food and money to St. Jerome’s Café and is always looking for new members, says group treasurer Douglas Thompson. Contact him for details at 301.699.0440. The Retired Senior and Volunteer Program in Prince George’s County offers a variety of opportunities for people 55 and up to put their skills and services to work in the community. They can mentor and tutor students, help seniors in computer use, assist with natural disasters, help in nursing homes and more. Call 301.265.8450 for information. — Scarlett Salem




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Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2011

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encourage people to walk. No. Our community has no place to walk to. Where would I walk? Many of us do walk, but we walk on our own streets in what we think is a rural setting. There are no sidewalks and we enjoy that.” University Hills has about 350 households, according its councilmember, Tim Hunt (Ward 3). About 80 people turned out for a





November 3 public meeting at St. Mark’s Church. Most public meetings draw about 20 people, said city spokesperson Abby Sandel. Almost all the people at the meeting spoke strongly against the proposed roadwork. Many shared the sentiments of Gary Orndorff, who said, “It has worked this way since 1950. Repair the streets and leave it alone!” But Ron Pedone, president of the University Hills Area Civic Association, pointed out that the meeting may have just brought out vocal opponents. “The impression was that everyone’s opposed. It’s a false assumption. I’m sure a lot of people support introducing sidewalks.” He said he has no position yet. All the neighborhood’s residents were asked to provide more detailed feedback to the city in a survey. About 45 households did so and most of them also had complaints about the plan. Many people wanted to keep the rural feel of the neighborhood, which they said sidewalks would ruin. Others said most of the streets are not through streets and don’t have many pedestrians, so they don’t need sidewalks. One common complaint was that installing sidewalks would narrow the streets, which would make driving on them dangerous and would eliminate needed onstreet parking. Some people worried about removing trees; others did not want the responsibility of shoveling snow from the sidewalks. Several people said that each block should be able to decide for itself. To that end, residents of five blocks [as of press time] have submitted petitions signed by a majority of the homeowners to stop sidewalk installation on their

streets. Hunt said, “There are a whole lot of what-ifs in this plan. What’s important to me is that people who live here take the ball and run with it and tell the city what they want.” Pedone is pleased with the way the city has been managing the process. “The city has bent over backwards to listen to residents. They’ve been wonderful to us here. I think they thought they were providing us with a dynamite long-range plan to improve the neighborhood and move all of Hyattsville to a sustainable green environment.” Menasian expressed a more cautious viewpoint. “We’ll very clearly and loudly make our feelings heard. After we make our feelings heard, we can tell you if the city’s responsive. I hope it is. I feel fine with this [report] as a first proposal. Residents don’t want a generic decision made for University Hills.” Resident Tom Slezak believes the city has done a great job in seeking input from everyone and is impressed with the report, saying that it just needs some modifications here and there to satisfy residents. He pointed out that everyone he has talked with agrees the streets are in bad shape and wants them repaired. And he isn’t against all sidewalks; in fact, he’d like one on his own street, Stanford. “It’s a pedestrian safety issue for me,” he said. “Stanford can be very busy.” He added that as part of Hyattsville’s 2006 annexation of University Hills, residents were told “we were going to get new streets here. Street repairs and now sidewalks is sort of like going out for your usual beer and the bartender surprises you with a martini. Either you’re pleased or you’re not.”

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Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2011

Page 13


Seasons Greetings from everyone at

Train Printing Open: Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. 4547 Rhode Island Avenue Brentwood, Maryland 20722

301-864-5552 • Fax 301-864-0740 e:

Wishing you and yours a safe and Happy Holiday Season! Exciting Arts Education Experiences for Youth

bob stevens The first Hyattsville Heroes Bowl game pitted the Bravest (firefighters, in yellow) against the Finest (police officers, in blue). The event raised more than $1,600 for the Sonny Frazier Toy Drive.

Tiger Lilly Florist & The Basket Gourmet Shop

Full Service Florist • Gift Baskets • Balloon Decorations • Gifts


5101 Baltimore Avenue, Hyattsville, MD 20781 • Local & Worldwide Delivery

10% OFF In-Store Purchase

Exp 12/31/2011

Youth Classes at Joe’s Movement Emporium begin January 9, 2012. Register before December 31st to receive a 10% discount on the entire semester.

community performing arts center

Club Joe’s is now accepting registration for the 2012 school year. Register your child today for our arts based after- school education program.


Don’t forget that Joe’s offers over 20 ongoing classes including Yoga, Zumba and even a Free Hip Hop class on Mondays. 301-699-1819

Visit for more information on Classes or Performances.

Located at 3309 Bunker Hill Road, right off of 34th Street in historic Mount Rainier, MD

Jumpin’ Jukebox

Parent & Child Dance Party Saturday, February 18, 2012 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

City Municipal Building, 4310 Gallatin Street

We’ll have a rockin’ good time!

Kid friendly music, Refreshments Tickets: $5.00 per guest Children must be accompanied by an adult throughout the evening. Reservations required: City of Hyattsville, Department of Recreation and the Arts. Call 301-985-5020 or visit


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Call Larry Perrin, Realtor 301.983.0601 to Buy and Sell Hyattsville Area Homes! LARRY’S LISTINGS:

SOLD SOLD SOLD SOLD SOLD: 11707 Pine Street $229,995 5401 37th Avenue $199,995 FOR SALE: 400 Parkwood Street $199,995 2414 Lewisdale Drive $199,995 4111 29th Street  $339,995 9117 49th Place $199,995 3105 Webster Street  $299,000 3817 Newark Street  $180,000


Hyattsville Life & Times | December 2011


3720 Jackson $280,000 9741 52nd Avenue $187,936 Chelsea Woods Condominium

1 Bedroom - Investor’s Delight!  $39,995

Greenbriar Condominium

2 and 3 Bedrooms From  $101,500

Hunting Ridge Condominium 1 and 2 Bedrooms From  $62,995



Realtor ®

“THE” Hyattsville Realtor     since 1977

301.983.0601 • 301.220.2229 Selling Your Home?  Free Home Value Estimate! If your home is currently listed by another Realtor ®®, please disregard this offer. It is not my intention to solicit the offerings of other brokers.

December 2011 Hyattsville Life & Times  

Melrose Skate Park finished, University Hills says no to sidewalks, Sonny Frazier Toy Drive beginnings, DeMatha soccer number 1 in nation, E...

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