Free fall festival to celebrate community cleanup efforts in Winters Lane

There was little activity on the Winters Lane parking lot of the Jackson and Johnson American Legion Post 263 shortly after 11 a.m. on Sept. 22.

A few adults walked around and several vehicles vied for space with a display of framed paintings for sale.

Just over a block away, three youngsters clambered on the playground equipment in front of the Banneker Community Center while a lone basketball player practiced his jump shot on the deserted basketball court.

Emma Pennington anticipates a signicantly different scene this weekend as her Winters Lane Advisory Board hosts its first Clean and Green Harvest Festival at the Legion Post, 151 Winters Lane.

The Sept. 29 event, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., is scheduled to include a host of activities for the younger members of the Winters Lane community. In addition to face painting, arts and crafts, and a performance by the Steppers of Truth, Antillio the Clown will offer balloon making and magic tricks.

Older residents can take advantage of the information on voter registration as well as a workshop offered by Home Depot on the best plants to grow in the area.

A representative from Valerie Ballard's Winters Lane accounting and tax service will be on hand to discuss the importance of curb appeal and keeping property values up, Pennington said.

Councilman Tom Quirk, who represents the 1st District that includes the area, is also scheduled to appear.

The festival is a reward for the community's efforts in cleaning up the area, a priority for Pennington's group since last spring's inaugural Community CleanUp Day.

She said the group applied for a grant from the Baltimore Community Foundation to host the event.

"We wanted to celebrate that people are doing cleanup in front of their homes and in the common areas," she said. "We've been asking people to clean up in front of their houses and they've kept that up from April."

As an extra motivation, the group has designated a Yard of the Month since May, when the residence of Lawrence and Velma King was honored, according to Pennington.

Pennington said other honorees include James and Lillian Coleman and Jeff and Deborah Sewell.

The residence of Douglas and Eula Fisher won the most recent designation, and a gift card from Home Depot, for the month of September.

"I'm in the yard all the time. That's my hobby. I enjoy doing that," said Eula Fisher, a 30-year resident of the area, who moved to Catonsville from Edmondson Village.

"A majority (of residents) keep their yards up," she said of her neighbors on Maryland Avenue. "But it's not a hobby for them like it is for me. Everybody is not into flowers."

While his friend's yard service takes care of the lawn, the flowers at the Winters Lane residence of Kenneth and Bonnie King is a more personal undertaking. The combined effort earned the lifelong Winters Lane residents the Yard of the Month award for July.

Kenneth King said he grew up on the property where he now lives and married his high school sweetheart 42 years ago, after he came home from serving in the Army.

King said he plans to attend Saturday's event.

"I think it will get some other people started on the program, especially when they see other people getting awards," he said. "I think it will make other people want to keep things up a lot better.

"I think it (Winters Lane community) is getting better," he said, pointing to the recent developments and renovations to several residences on Winters Lane.

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