|El Golfo Restaurant, home to the first Discover Long Branch! event.|
Over quesadillas and El Golfo's famous chocolate mousse, I got to spend a great evening with folks from Long Branch and beyond who are excited about the future of the Flower Theatre. I also passed out our new spiffy flyer, summarizing our efforts over the past four months. Almost every table was full, and the mood was buoyant.
Even Santa Claus showed up with gifts for everyone.
|The board reads "My dream for Long Branch is/Mi sueño para Long Branch es."|
In the lobby, there was a chalkboard where people could write out their dream for Long Branch in both English and Spanish. The board was built by Jeff Gipson, an architecture graduate student at the University of Maryland and intern at the Montgomery Housing Partnership. The responses ranged from pragmatic ("More money into schools") to intangible ("well-being") to literal ("Flowers on Flower Avenue"). I was excited to see quite a few mentions of the Flower Theatre and the Purple Line.
|Connelly rides his giant trike up Flower Avenue.|
Outside, there was a giant tricycle built by artist Howard Connelly of Colesville, who offered us all rides. The tricycle was first commissioned for Takoma Park's Independence Day Parade and later participated in the Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race, though readers might recognize it from its normal perch outside Connelly's house on New Hampshire Avenue.
|"Just Up The Trike." Photo by Dave Lemen.|
Connelly built the tricycle himself using recycled pieces including steel and wood. Though it weighs about 250 pounds, it can go pretty fast and make some sharp turns. I was a little nervous at first, but it quickly passed and I felt like a little kid going down the big slide at Wheaton Regional Park again.
The best part was watching people react as they walked past. Kids and adults alike asked to ride it, and Connelly gladly obliged. One gentleman who was clearly drunk stumbled down Flower Avenue cursing at the top of his lungs until he passed the tricycle. It was enough to make him stop and stare for a second before he resumed walking and yelling.
While the Flower Theatre Project began as a way to bring an old theatre back to life, it's given me a chance to get to know the Long Branch community as well. Over the past four months, I've met neighbors, community leaders and business owners who are genuinely excited about their neighborhood and its potential, and it's infectious.
|Reminds me of Arrested Development: "You're gonna get some hop-ons."|
Thanks to everybody who came out last night! The Long Branch Business League hasn't announced their next Discover Long Branch! event, but judging by the success of this one, I hope they will soon.