What's a monument lighting without fish tacos or Polish sausage?
On Thursday night, crowds arriving early for the annual lighting of Baltimore's Washington Monument will have plenty of food vendors to keep them company while they wait for things to get rolling.
The dramatic monument lighting itself happens at approximately 7:45 p.m., and stage entertainment, which includes choirs and dancing Santas, begins at 6 p.m. But the festivities begin even earlier, at 5 p.m., with food and craft vendors assembling for a holiday village in Mount Vernon Place's west square, the main gathering space for the event.
This is the 42nd annual monument lighting, but the food offerings were meager until the past few years, when the event’s producers started bringing in a full complement of food vendors, most of whom operate out of booths lining the square. But there are a few food trucks coming again this year, including Woody’s Taco Island, Chowhound Burger Wagon and Cazbar.
The other vendors include Polock Johnny’s, Sofi’s Crepes, B&O Brasserie, Golden West Cafe, Homeslyce, James Joyce Irish Pub & Restaurant, Nando’s Peri Peri, the Verandah, the Point in Fells, Zeke’s Coffee and Cafe Latte Da.
The park gets crowded early and stays that way, but there are other things to do in Mount Vernon before the official lighting. A few blocks away, the Maryland Historical Society (200 W. Monument St., 410-685-3750, mdhs.org) is hosting its annual holiday open house from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Admission to the open house and the entire museum is free, and guests will be offered free cookies, cider and hot cocoa.
The historical society's event is also being billed as the "debut party" for Lady Baltimore, the 190-year-old statue that has recently taken up residence at the Maryland Historical Society. This will be the first time the statue will be on view, free, to the general public since its removal from the top of the Battle Monument, the museum says. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will speak, at 4:40 p.m., about the statue and its significance to the city.
Peckish revelers can also wander over to one of Mount Vernon’s nearby restaurants, including Dooby’s (802 N. Charles St., 410-702-5144, doobys.com), which opened in late October, and Brewer’s Art (1106 N Charles St, 410-547-6925). And once they’ve eaten their fill, they can join in the Monument Lighting Style Stroll, a self-guided hop around Mount Vernon shops like A People United, Beadazzled and For Rent Shoes.
The monument lighting ceremony has also turned into an occasion for residents of Mount Vernon, especially those living in and around the park itself, to hold their own annual holiday open houses. But if you haven't been invited to one of these yet, you'll have to make friends fast.
"A Monumental Occasion: The Annual Lighting of Baltimore's Washington Monument" is Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Mount Vernon Place. The public is encouraged to enter the park's west square from Cathedral Street (not from Charles Street). For more information, go to bop.org.