Annual Trolley Trail Day Returns After Covid Hiatus
By Mitchell Hang
From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 10, people gathered up and down the Trolley Trail to celebrate the return of Trolley Trail Day. As a part of the festivities, dozens of people gathered at The Spot in Hyattsville, with many sharing their prospective ideas on how to develop the area.
Trolley Trail Day is a yearly celebration of the Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail, which runs through the cities of Hyattsville, Riverdale Park, and College Park. The Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail was originally built in the late 1800s, and today it serves as a path for people to ride their bikes, go for a jog, or take a casual stroll.
The Hyattsville Community Development Corporation, in conjunction with the College Park City-University Partnership and the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area, was involved in planning this year’s event, which made its long-awaited return since 2019 when the COVID-19 pandemic put the yearly celebrations to a sudden halt.
Valerie Woodall, associate executive director of the College Park City-University Partnership, was largely involved in the planning for this year’s Trolley Trail Day.
“This event stemmed from a crime prevention through environmental design study that helped us to discuss how to maintain the trail,” she said. “One of the recommendations that came out of that study was to ‘program the trail,’ have events, and so Trolley Trail Day came out of that study.”
Community contributes ideas for the development of The Spot
The Spot, located at 4505 Hamilton St, was one of several activity hubs found along the Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail. The city of Hyattsville has previously used the area for various events in the summer, such as live music concerts and open markets, but now the city is hoping to transform it into something greater.
Bronwyn King, who serves as the co-founder of the So-Hy Co-op, often works with small local businesses in Hyattsville and organizes events dealing with art and live music. “[The Spot] is a space that’s owned by the City of Hyattsville, and they have allowed us to ‘activate’ it, if you will, and hold events here,” she said.
Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., people of all ages dropped by The Spot to partake of the celebration, which promoted several small businesses and organizations. Residents played games like chess, Jenga and Connect 4, enjoyed food provided by a Little Miner Taco food truck and a Simple Pleasures Artisanal Ice Cream cart, and were even treated to live music performances from groups like Women in the Blues and Jackson, Oziel and Moss, as well as an appearance by the Bubblemonger. Even Robert Croslin, the mayor of Hyattsville, showed up to enjoy the festivities (and some ice cream).
“We have other businesses that come to actually help us to celebrate,” Mayor Croslin remarked. “The trail goes all the way up to College Park and beyond… so people are coming from College Park on their bikes.”
In addition, there were several stations belonging to various small businesses in Hyattsville, such as Watch Me Flex Fitness and Sweet Pea Fiber as well as other booths set up for Prince George’s Running Club and the Love Yoga Studio. Antoine Edwards, owner and trainer of Watch Me Flex Fitness, held a boot camp demonstration alongside his wife, Liz.
Under the big tent, the Neighborhood Design Center facilitated its Design Charette, engaging with the community to get opinions on how The Spot should be developed. A wide range of ideas was proposed, such as a stage for live music, a community board with notices for public events, and more shade for people to relax and unwind.
“The City [of Hyattsville] has put forth funding to make this [area] a green space and performance space, and sort of activate it permanently for the local community,” King said.
“I think [The Spot] would be a nice, little park for everybody to get around and have some outdoor activities to keep themselves fit and happy,” Antoine Edwards said.
“I think having these mutual meeting spaces is a good thing,” Liz added. “It’s always a good place for people to come and relax and get a little R&R.”
If you’re interested in getting involved, the City of Hyattsville and the Neighborhood Design Center are currently holding a campaign for people to send their ideas of what they would like to see at The Spot as it gets transformed into a park. The campaign runs until June 25, and it can be found at HelloHyattsville.com.
Bringing the community together
The festivities throughout the day were not just limited to Hyattsville, as other people stopped by other activity hubs throughout the trail. The Old Parish House in College Park offered Brazilian dance lessons (courtesy of EducArte), a station to create buttons from magazine pages (courtesy of the College Park Arts Exchange) and another station for people to design their own LGBTQ pride flags. The Riverdale Park Town Center featured an inflatable obstacle course, face painting for kids, and a mariachi band.
It’s no wonder that on a day of celebrating a way of getting to and from certain places, people in and out of Hyattsville have plenty of thoughts in mind on how important the Trolley Trail is to them.
“The Trolley Trail connects municipalities to each other, so instead of driving up and down Route 1, you can take a bike or walk or scoot… up and down the trail and go to restaurants, breweries, [and] get groceries,” Woodall explained. “It’s a good event to kind of connect [the] community and be together on a trail that is used every day for everyday life.”
“I use the Trolley Trail to walk from my house to events that we organize at The Spot,” King said. “I use the Trolley Trail to walk over to these local businesses… and I also use it to walk to a bakery that I love that’s in Riverdale Park.”
“It’s an option for people to have fun, ride their bikes, walk [and] run on the trail, and actually get to places in Hyattsville and beyond,” Mayor Croslin said regarding the Trolley Trail. “I think it’s a great thing.”