By ROBERT MEYERS — The first Trolley Trail Day, on Saturday, June 8, celebrated a vital community link with a day full of human-powered motion — on bikes, on foot, with a brush, with an instrument, through yoga — and many other ways people move. Group bicycle rides, a 6-kilometer fun run and activities at five hubs connected communities along the trail. The celebration also featured special events, with 35 businesses involved.
The College Park City-University Partnership (CPC-UP) worked collaboratively with the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation (CDC), the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area, Inc. (ATHA), College Park Arts Exchange, the towns along the trail and other partners to organize Trolley Trail Day. Eric Olson, executive director of the CPC-UP said, “We’ve worked with these organizations for many years. We shared a common vision. We all love the Trolley Trail, and we wanted to show people that don’t use the trail that often or never heard of it that it connects all of our communities. It’s an efficient way to get around. It’s a pretty easy, accessible trail for all people.”
Laurie Lemiex, of Proteus Bicycles, declared Trolley Trail Day a success and said it was a lot of fun. “I’ve been wanting to do this for years. I was pretty excited when Eric [Olson] said it was going to happen.” Lemieux led about 20 registered riders from her Hollywood Shopping Center store on a breakfast ride at 8:30 a.m., and more riders joined along the way. “Breakfast is my favorite meal. I have lots of favorite breakfast places on the trail. I loved seeing businesses and communities along the trail come together. People on the ride really loved it,” she added. “I think it’s a fantastic idea to promote the businesses on the trolley trail.”
The 3.5-mile Trolley Trail connects Hyattsville, Riverdale Park and College Park with a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly route that commemorates the former Washington, Berwyn and Laurel streetcar line that served these communities through much of the 20th Century.
Aaron Marcavitch, executive director of Maryland Milestones/ATHA, said, “The event came together so well, especially with the staff of CPC-UP and Hyattsville CDC. We had our volunteers and interns supporting [the event], and we’re glad to get historical groups to come out. I was really pleased with the way so many regional partners, businesses and people came together on an untried, untested program to make it a success. I would hope we see a second one next year, perhaps with some more input from the Trolley Museum to amplify the history.“
At Art Works Now, on the south end of the Trolley Trail, people collaborated with University of Maryland graduate students to create colorful banners, and stations for individual artists invited expression. Parents encouraged young children to spread colors around patterns, teenagers added scrolls and flourishes, a woman spread blue paint with a big brush, dabbing one end into small pots of paint. Outside, workers readied their booths for the afternoon Spring Fest.
At the Hyattsville Justice Center, a bouncy castle and face painter attracted groups of children. The city distributed red Trolley Trail Day T-shirts, scavenger hunt maps, posters, pins and information. A mandolin player strolled among the trees. That was just the beginning of the Trolley Trail Day at the southern end of the Trolley Trail.
If you followed the trail on Trolley Trail Day from Hyattsville to Riverdale Park and on to College Park and back, you might have experienced these moments. North on the trail a short mile or so is Riverdale Park Town Center. A Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission ranger waited there on a bicycle for the arrival of the 6-kilometer fun run from Acredale Park. The first three runners, Necha Firehun, Rosenberg Cotter and Carlos Chaverri-Morales, approached the Village Green Riverdale Park together, talking. Runners followed them through intersections manned by police and volunteers; groups of runners and bicycle riders appeared spread out over the miles.
At Berwyn Road, a group of people gathered around to enjoy an edible plant and mushroom identification walk led by an employee from Smile Herb Shop. Some 25 bicyclists passed the plant group on their way north to Proteus Bicycles, where they filled their water bottles, freshened up and browsed the Hollywood Farmers Market before turning around and heading back to Arrow Bikes in Hyattsville.
At the Old Parish House in College Park, Posh Cycling and Fitness studio offered classes, and a guitar player filled the space with amplified song. A Lakeland history booth presented the first 100 years of the community through displays and informed staff. Bikes lined the fence.
Back at Riverdale Park Town Center, the sound of blues greeted trail arrivals, as a member of the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation performed. A museum booth featured an interesting display of trolley memorabilia and information from Maryland Milestones/ATHA. Banana Blossom Bistro offered refreshing lime or orange drinks. Riviera Tapas offered tastings of flavorful beef empanadas, chicken pupusas and meatballs as well as fruit infused water.
Traffic began to build on the trail as families pushing buggies, little kids on their first bicycles with sparkly streamers on their handlebars, and dogs on leashes streamed in both directions. Back in Hyattsville, families and small groups of friends drifted between special offers at shops, and the music and activities at the Justice Center and Art Works Now.
In the parking lot, Streetcar 82, Maryland Meadworks and Denizens Brewing Co. joined a dozen other brewers. Ceramic, jewelry and literary art was on offer alongside pizza by the slice from Pizzeria Paradiso’s wood-fired portable oven. People spread out over benches, tables, chairs and nearby lawns to sip brews, listen to music, talk and enjoy the afternoon breeze of a very fine day.
Will this be a recurring event?
“I was really pleased with the way so many regional partners, businesses, and people came together on an untried, untested program to make it a success. I would hope we see a second one next year — perhaps with some more input from the Trolley Museum to amplify the history,“ said Marcavitch.
Lemiex said she “would be thrilled to participate in another. A couple of times of year would be great.”