Now that Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow and we've all declared our love for family, friends and others at Valentine's Day, it won't be long before local Christians begin the six week observance of Lent.

Our area churches will inaugurate the Lenten season with Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22, services:

• Ascension Lutheran Church, 7601 York Road, noon and 7 p.m.

• Brown Memorial Woodbrook Presbyterian Church, 6200 N. Charles St., 7:30 p.m.


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• Central Presbyterian Church, 7308 York Road, 7:30 p.m.;

• St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church, 6428 York Road, at 7 a.m., 12:10 and 7 p.m.

• Woodbrook Baptist Church, 25 Stevenson Lane, 6 p.m.

Our Rodgers Forge neighbors, past and present, are always on the move. We caught up with Joan and Doug Campbell, who raved about their fall trip to Italy. Traveling mostly by rail, they visited Rome, Florence, Venice and Assisi.

Several Forgers will, no doubt, journey to New York when Helene Hahn, daughter of Ann and Steven Hahn, appears at Lincoln Center on Sunday, Feb. 26. Hilary, consider by the Washington Post to be, "one of the greatest violinists in the world," will appear with the Pittsburgh Symphony, conducted by Manfred Honeck.

Regina Davis, mother of Austin Davis (Towson High School, Class of 2011), and immediate past president of the THS Music Boosters, is still one of the school's biggest boosters. She invites neighbors to the Friday, Feb. 17, Longaberger Basket Bingo at Tall Cedars of Lebanon, Parkville.

Vera Bradley and other prizes await you. Doors open at 6 p.m. and bingo starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and $20, at the door. Call 410-321-1640 or email thsmusicboosters@gmail.com.

Next door in Gaywood, Tricia Hayden tells us that the Red Devils, a support group helping families of cancer patients, will benefit from meal purchased at the Green Turtle on Tuesday, Feb. 21 (a.k.a. "Fat Tuesday"). Located in the Hunt Valley Towne Centre, the Green Turtle is not far from Greetings and Readings, where you can buy Red Devil cookbooks during February.

The annual spaghetti dinner and Mardi Gras Celebration at St. Pius X, 6432 York Road, will be held Tuesday, Feb. 21, 12:30 to 6 p.m. The event is filled with delicious food and jolly times.

If purchased before Feb. 20, tickets are $11 for adults, $7 for seniors and $6 for children under 12. After Feb. 20, tickets are $13, $8 and $7, respectively.

To learn more, call 410-377-7440.

Congratulations to Dumbarton Middle School's National Geographic Bee Champion, Alex Chrvala, and runner-up Mason Miller-Breetz, both sixth-graders.

Alex successfully answered 75 questions, earning him the right to represent Dumbarton in the Maryland State Geographic Bee in March.

Good luck, Alex, and thank you to faculty members Lee Thomassen, Justin Kampes and Elizabeth Richardson, who coordinated and ran the Dumbarton bee.

Towson High School is gearing up for its Edible Art Exhibit on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 6 p.m. and the Senior Talent Show on Feb. 23, at 7 p.m.

Chris and Dave Batten's cross-country trip included a visit to San Clemente and San Diego, Calif., and to see the USS Midway and several tall ships. After that they headed to Arizona, to the Grand Canyon. "No matter how many pictures of the Grand Canyon one sees, they do not prepare one for their sheer beauty and immensity."

On Feb. 20, we will commemorate our great presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Let us remember all that they did to start our nation and to free it from slavery.

Till we meet again ...