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Berwyn Day celebrations strengthen community ties

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Posted on: October 12, 2022

By Jessica Harden

A cool breeze rustled the leaves on the trees while the aroma of grilled hamburgers and hotdogs wafted through Berwyn Neighborhood Park as residents celebrated on Sept. 24. 

Berwyn Day, hosted by the Berwyn District Civic Association (BDCA), was back in full swing for the first time since 2012, with everything from arts and crafts to lawn games. Lines snaked to tables  for baked goods and grilled food, and police with the Maryland National-Capital Park and Planning Commission let residents pet their horses. Nearby, volunteer firefighters gave tours of their firetrucks and ambulances.

Curry and George Hoskey, who moved to Berwyn in 2005, held a garage sale that included clothes and mountains of books. Curry Hoskey, who finds her neighbors warm and friendly, said Berwyn residents are  interested in each other’s welfare but are not intrusive.

“I really like [the neighborhood]; as a matter of fact, we have never found a place that we like better,” Curry Hoskey said. “I love the fact that my son has grown up here. It’s a neighborhood where people look out for [each other’s] children.”

During the storm that pummeled College Park on July 12, Berwyn residents lost power and a number of homes were damaged by downed trees. Curry Hoskey said it felt like almost every third or fourth house had been affected by the storm.

“Everybody came together, [with an] outpouring of support,” she said. “We happened to be away, and people were contacting us …  ‘[we] want to let you know about the storm, your house wasn’t hit, but here are some photos.’”

Curry Hoskey said that celebrating with her fellow neighbors and catching up with friends, both old and new, is her favorite part of Berwyn Day .

“It’s old-fashioned to say ‘all walks of life,’ but we have retired government employees, we have students, builders, professionals and everybody in between,” Curry Hoskey said. 

Sarah Cobau, a junior at the University of Maryland, said she was drawn to the Berwyn neighborhood because renting a shared home is more affordable  than living in her own apartment.

Sarah Cobau making ojos de Dios (God’s eyes) at the College Park Arts Exchange craft table.
Courtesy of Jessica Harden

“There’s a sense of community, [and] I really like living in a house as opposed to an apartment,” she said. “I feel like sometimes college campuses can feel a little isolating. It’s nice to feel like you’re a [part of a] real world.”

Bob Catlin, BDCA president, has lived in Berwyn for over 30 years. He noted that in recent years investors started buying owner-occupied homes and renting the homes to students, which has changed the makeup of the neighborhood. “That’s one reason we had to get rid of Berwyn Day for a few years there,” Catlin said. “We just lost a lot of the old-timer volunteers that we needed to make things operate. So now we got some new people involved, and things are on the upswing.”

Casimer, 7, making ojos de Dios (God’s eyes) at a craft table hosted by College Park Arts Exchange.
Courtesy of Jessica Harden

Catlin would like to see this housing trend, which is also impacting Lakeland, slowed or even stopped. The Hoskeys don’t want to leave Berwyn, even though they’ve considered it as they’ll eventually be empty nesters.

“I’d rather improve on my house than try to find a different house because what we’ve got just really fits us,” Curry Hoskey said.

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