Miracle on 34th Street (Baltimore)

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North side of 34th Street
South side of 34th Street

In Baltimore, Maryland, Miracle on 34th Street is a display of holiday lights that takes place annually on the 700 block of 34th Street (between Chestnut Avenue and Keswick Road) in Baltimore's Hampden community. The display, which involves the residents of most of the houses on the block, started in 1947, and takes place between late November and early January, celebrating its 64th year this Christmas.[1] The location at the time of year becomes a major tourist attraction for visitors from all over the world, sometimes drawing more than 1000 visitors on a single evening.[2]

The display prominently features Christmas trees of varying styles, trains, animated figures, Walt Disney cartoon characters, Hanukkah menorahs, artwork, and other various symbols of the holiday season.[3]

Notable artists[edit]

Some of the residents are renowned for their various displays. These include:

  • Jim Pollock: Known for the hubcap Christmas trees, one of which is usually displayed prominently on his lawn, along with his snowmen made of bicycle wheels. He is sometimes the only resident who allows visitors inside his house to view his artwork.[4]
  • Elaine Doyle-Gillespie: Known for her theme of peace[5]

In popular culture[edit]

Criticism[edit]

Neighborhood concerns[edit]

The event has drawn criticism from various city residents over the amount of traffic created by vehicles passing on the block, and parking shortages caused by visitors parking on nearby streets.[3] No extra police officers are used to monitor traffic.

Those on other nearby streets have also complained about noise caused by crowds from the event, and the noise and pollution caused by tour buses idling while parked on nearby streets while allowing busloads to walk along the block.[3]

Energy issues[edit]

Participants have been criticized for the high use of energy needed to operate electronic decorations. But the block's residents have continued the annual tradition every year since 1987, regardless of rises in energy costs that have occurred in recent years.[8][9] Some participants have reduced the amount of energy they use by utilizing LED lights, or displaying artwork that uses little or no electricity.

According to Baltimore Gas & Electric, the average energy cost per participating resident is less than $10 per month.

In some cases, neighbors have assisted those who have trouble affording energy costs by pulling extension cords into their houses.[3] This has created concerns about fire hazards.[10]

Local news stations have warned visitors that though people may stand on this block and claim to be collecting tips for the energy costs of the display, residents are willing to foot the bill themselves, and do not collect any donations for this purpose. However, vendors do legitimately sell refreshments at nearby corners, not for their own personal profit, but for the benefit of visitors.[11]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°19′44″N 76°37′41″W / 39.3290°N 76.6280°W / 39.3290; -76.6280