Salutations, Streetcar Suburbs! 

Welcome to the Streetcar Spotlight — Black History, Mardi Gras, Lunar New Year, Valentine’s (and Super Bowl?!) edition. 

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Warm Fuzzies

Huge shout-out to Earl from the Hyattsville Department of Public Works, who very kindly and cheerfully rang my doorbell Tuesday to let me know that leaf service had ended for the season (ours had been buried by snow), and that we should bag them up soon to avoid a citation from Code Enforcement. Thank you Earl, for helping me out and brightening my day in person (and not batting an eye at my pjs)!

Got a kudos for a local business or government office/employee? Send it to us to potentially be included in the next newsletter!

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Local News in a Nutshell: Original Reporting & Analysis

Let’s start things off with some relatively good news: Prince George’s County was awarded a $10.6 million federal grant for safer streets initiatives in some of its cities this week. Social media was abuzz with local politicians congratulating themselves and each other for obtaining the funds, though it remains to be seen how the relatively modest funds will be allocated and what impacts they will reasonably have. 

The bad news is that it’s been less than a week since the most recent pedestrian fatality in the county on Jan. 30 in Laurel (**update — between editing and press time, there has been yet another fatality**), bringing the grim total to three county pedestrian fatalities in just a four-day period (**now four in two weeks**). As our own Paul Ruffins recently reported, our county has the highest rate of road deaths in Maryland, three times the rate of road deaths as Montgomery County. Politicians are pushing stop-sign cameras as a priority solution, though recently installed stop-sign cameras in the District have sparked a backlash, as drivers must come to a complete and total stop entirely behind the line (try it! it’s harder than you think!), and residents constantly receive tickets for what would normally be considered safe driving behavior. 

Despite the smallish (but nontrivial) grant, the county is facing a $171 million budget shortfall in the next fiscal year, as federal Covid relief ends and costs continue to increase. The State of Maryland recently mandated school spending increases as part of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, but the county’s revenue has not kept up with costs, partly due to pandemic economic losses. Additionally, the state is also facing a deficit, with a $2 billion shortfall in its budget for capital projects. Hence, potentially, the stop-sign cameras as a major revenue generator (and regressive tax? more to come on that, to be sure).

In reading about the budget shortfalls, I learned that 5% of the county budget goes towards stormwater and solid waste management (also, that PGCPS thinks it should be exempt from stormwater management requirements in school construction??). That leads me, tangentially, to the recent public discussions over the ongoing Driskell Park redesign progress (Driskell is the flagship park of Hyattsville). Some folks have forgotten (or weren’t here then) why the process even began back in 2017. I dug into the weeds for you (including watching a seven-year-old council meeting) so you don’t have to for this new article detailing the five W’s (and how) of the plan and how you can contribute to the process. You’ll have to read the article for the stormwater connection, because I’m running out of space!

My Top 5 Local Twitter Tidbits (okay, “X”)

  1. College Park City Council postponed a vote Tuesday on creating a subcommittee to explore taxing vacant and blighted properties because they couldn’t decide on who should be on it. ~The Diamondback
  2. Weather warms through the weekend, but the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang dangled a 1/10 snow potential index for late Monday or Tuesday, though temperatures may not get cold enough.
  3. Roughly half of PG County’s crossing guard positions are still vacant, so they dropped the age requirement from 21 to 18 and removed the driver’s license requirement. They’ve received over 500 recent applications, but few of those responded to interview requests, and even then, most people can’t pass the drug test in an era of quasi-legal cannabis. ~WTOP
  4. From the City of Hyattsville: A community documentary programdebuts for teens. “Life Stories” is for grades 6 – 12. Wednesdays from 5 – 6 p.m. at the Driskell Park Youth Center starting February 21! Sign up here.
  5. I was this many days old when I learned there was a 2-day firefighting summer camp for teen girls put on by Prince George’s County’s Fire/EMS Department. Sign up for Camp Embers (get it?) here. You had me at “dressing up like a firefighter.” 

That’s it for this edition! 

Tell us how you’re going to spend these most epic cultural weeks ahead, with the planets aligning for the confluence of Black History Month, Mardi Gras, Lunar New Year, the Super Bowl, and Valentine’s Day, all roughly in the same time period! Did I forget something?! Share in the comments on Facebook: HL&T, CPH&N, & Laurel

I’ll end with a shot I took of the recent raucous Burn’s Night Supper at Maryland Meadworks, where many tunes were sung, much haggis was ingested, and significant mead imbibed (and a rather conspicuous pole was in my way). As always, send me a note with any thoughts or questions on local news and The Spotlight in particular.

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Heather Marléne Zadig, Newsletter Editor

Upcoming Events

Unless marked with an “$,” events listed do not charge admission.

Feb. 8-18, var. times. $ Cradle and All… a play in development. This marks the first production under Ally’s new leadership, created by a collaborative team including actors, activists, individuals impacted by incarceration, improvisers, and director and playwright, Sisi Reid of Soul Shine Theater Garden. 

Feb. 9, 7PM. Maryland Meadworks Mardi Gras Karaoke Party! We’ll provide everything you need to “Laissez Les Bontemps Rouler”: Delicious King Cake* from Ravenhook! Mardi Gras beads* and festive masks*! Karaoke! And of course, delicious mead to get you into the spirit of things! *free while supplies last!

Feb. 9-25. $ Ms. Evers’ Boys at Laurel Mill Playhouse. Come see this important play, that dramatizes the inhumane and unethical Tuskegee Syphillis Study, often referred to as “the most infamous biomedical research study in US history”. It’s not BLACK History, it’s AMERICAN History. You don’t want to miss this. ~ Lorraine Brooks, Director. Laurel Mill Playhouse, 508 Main Street, Laurel MD 20707.

Feb. 10 

10:30AM-12PM. $ If the Tracks Could Talk. Focuses on the African American experience on the railroads and street cars in the Washington DC and Baltimore Areas. See rare images and hear dramatic interpretations/reenactments of excerpts from memoirs. Discover other little known railroad stories that will captivate you.Bladensburg Waterfront Park. (301) 779-0371; Enjoy light refreshments. Ages 10 & up.

1-2 PM. Lecture: Underground Railroad Quilt Codes with Sharon Tindall. Join master quilter and educator Sharon Tindall for a talk on the existence and use of quilt codes. Some people believe quilt patterns held secret messages used to guide freedom seekers to safety. Ms. Tindall is a strong supporter of quilt codes and has spent over 20 years researching this theory. Did it exist or is it simply myth? Darnall’s Chance House Museum. (301) 952-8010

Feb. 11

11AM-1PM: Archaeology Hike Through History. Discover archaeology and history during a trail walk in Patuxent River Park led by Park Archaeologists! The tour will cover about 3 miles on a natural trail path and stairs. Ages 12 and up with accompanying adult. Patuxent River Park, (301) 627-6074,

6-8PM: The Chromatics – a high-energy vocal band on a mission to delight audiences with a full spectrum of songs about science, technology, life, and their intersections. They have taken their astronomically-correct a cappella songs, a project called AstroCappella, from coast to coast. New Deal Café, Greenbelt, MD.

Feb. 13

6:00pm – 7:00pm. MAC Party – Manga and Anime Club | Held in the Activity Room, Bladensburg Library. TEEN (13-18 YRS) Do you nerd out about “My Hero Academia,” “Attack on Titan,” “Demon Slayer,” or “Sailor Moon”? Join us at the Manga and Anime Club at the Bladensburg Branch Library. Come for screenings, discussions, activities, and Japanese culture. Meet people with similar interests and explore our collection. All levels of fandom welcome.

7-9PM. Mardi Gras / Fat Tuesday – Wild Anacostias band. Streetcar 82 Brewery. Ravenhook Bakehouse – king cakes & etc. 4824 Rhode Island Ave, Hyattsville, MD 20781.

Feb. 14A Valentine’s Day Special Drag Bingo @ 7:30 w/ Freida & Darcy Free to play at 7:30 PM on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays. Denizen’s Brewery, Riverdale Park.

Feb. 15, 7:30-9PM. $ Laugh House Presents Correy Bell, one of Chicago’s hottest and funniest comedians on the scene. Named as “the comedian to keep your eye on in 2020” by Midwest Living Magazine, this wife and mother of five has always had the innate ability to deliver the perfect joke. Crowne Plaza Hotel – Ivy Lane, Greenbelt, MD.

Feb. 16

4:30pm – 5:45pm Kids and Teens Coding Club – Introduction to Python, 3D Design, and Engineering. Hyattsville Library – Learning Lab. AGE GROUP: TEEN (13-18 YRS), ELEMENTARY (5-12 YRS) Want to learn coding, 3D design, and engineering basics? In these hands-on workshops, the University of Maryland’s Nearspace Balloon Payload Project will teach you useful STEM skills, including how to create video games using the Python programming language and how to design 3D-printed objects.

8PM. $-$$ Baltimore Symphony Orchestra: Marin Alsop & Time for Three. Marin Alsop, reunites with composer Kevin Puts to present his dazzling concerto for the improvising/ vocalizing/ barn-burning/genre-crossing talents of the Grammy Award-winning string trio Time for Three. Clarice Performing Arts Center, UMD, College Park.

Feb. 17

2-4PM, & 6-8:30PM. $ Kujichagulia Afro-Futurism Show by Taratibu Youth Association. Afro-futurism evolved as an expressive outlet and platform to understand and interpret the history of race and African/Black cultural identity. This show draws from the past and present using Kujichagulia- Self Determination, as a lens to acknowledge and honor some of our cultural norms from African and African American history. Joe’s Movement Emporium, 3309 Bunker Hill RoadMount Rainier, MD, 20712.

6:00 PM 11:00 PM. $$$ Lunar New Year Banquet: Dance with the Dragons. China Garden Rockville (Han Gong 漢宮) for a night of culture, celebration, food, and friends. Dress code is cocktail attire. TAP-DC’s Lunar New Year in 2024, the Year of the Dragons! Join us for a night of culture, delicious food, friends, and performances! 11333 Woodglen Drive, Rockville, MD, 20852

8-9:30PM. $$ Sweet Honey in The Rock. Prince George’s Publick Playhouse. (301) 277-1710 5445 Landover Road, Hyattsville.