Santa Claus

I’ve learned a long time ago that the best places to do any kind of last-minute Christmas shopping was to go downtown in either Baltimore or Washington, DC. That’s because so many other people in the suburbs tend to crowd into the shopping malls so you have this crazy phenomenon where the shopping malls in the suburbs are crammed with cars in the parking lots and huge crowds shopping inside while the downtown shopping areas are practically empty.

I decided to spend Christmas Eve in Baltimore for the first time since 2013. What made me decide to go there was a few factors. First, there was a bunch of hype about how the weather in the area was going to be an usually balmy 70 degrees Fahrenheit. I initially thought about maybe spending Christmas Eve at the National Zoo in DC. But what the meteorologists neglected to mention that this warmer air was being accompanied by a series of nasty rain storms. It rained really hard on December 23. By the 24th the rain had stopped but there were these gloomy clouds and more calls for rain. So I jettisoned the National Zoo idea. Then I learned that not only was the Christmas Village returning to Baltimore but it was going to stay open later until December 27 (instead of December 24 like in previous years). I wasn’t able to go to the Christmas Village sooner because I got distracted by Artomatic so I finally decided to check it out for the first (and last) time this year on Christmas Eve. The next picture shows my light rail ticket that shows the fact that I purchased it on Christmas Eve.

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I wore a t-shirt, which was unusual for me on Christmas Eve. (The only other times I’ve ever worn t-shirts at Christmas were when I was visiting my late mother-in-law and her second husband in Phoenix.) Even though the day was cloudy, it had only rained once when I was in Baltimore. It was a brief shower and I found myself feeling glad that I decided to bring my umbrella with me.

As I was walking from the light rail stop to the Inner Harbor, I felt a sudden urge to go to the bathroom so I went to the Sheraton Hotel that was along the route. The hotel lobby had all these fancy Christmas decorations.

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Like I wrote earlier, the weather felt more like spring than winter in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area. In fact I saw flowers that were in bloom, such as this one in the next picture.

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Here is what it was like to spend Christmas Eve in the Inner Harbor. There weren’t a lot of people around and everything seemed quiet and peaceful.

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I finally made my way to the Christmas Village. I initially checked the outdoor decorations and vendors.

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I eventually made my way to the indoor pavilion. Since Christmas Eve fell on a weekday, I didn’t have to pay the usual $5 entrance fee (which was only in effect on Saturdays and Sundays). There weren’t a lot of people inside so I could leisurely browse the various tables.

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I ate a bratwurst and sauerkraut platter for lunch. I also decided to eat a Belgian waffle with chocolate syrup and whipped cream, which is shown in the next photo.

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I bought a few last-minute presents, many of which were marked down in price (mainly because the Christmas Village was going to close for good soon). Once I finished shopping, I decided to walk around Harborplace.

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This next photo shows how crowded Harborplace got on Christmas Eve.

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I even stopped by The Galleria that’s located across the street from Harborplace. There were more people there than at Harborplace but it was still far less crowded than going to any suburban shopping mall on Christmas Eve. The next photo, taken in The Galleria, shows the weird juxtaposition between this festive gift-bearing train on the right and the sign on the left urging shoppers to be on the lookout for suspicious unattended packages because they could signal a potential terrorist attack.

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On my way back from Baltimore I stopped in my old hometown of Glen Burnie to check out this light display on someone’s private home that’s so extensive and over-the-top that it really warrants a separate entry.

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