Children streamed through the Brokerage yesterday during a free multicultural holiday celebration, promoting the future home the Baltimore Children's Museum and the revitalization of the Market Place corridor.
Activities and craft vendors at "Market Place Holiday Happenings" centered on Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza, with entertainment and booths promoting local children's attractions. Organizers for the Baltimore Development Corp. said several thousand visited the one-day event.
The busiest -- and glitziest -- corner was run by the Baltimore Children's Museum itself, where children from toddlers to preteens made peace doves from handprints, stamped Hanukkah prints, and cut and pasted skyscraping Kwanza hats.
The hat -- or bele -- is based on one of the seven principles of Kuumba: creativity, explained Dorothy Valakos, arts coordinator. "We wanted to make them very festive and exuberant."
After the children's heads were measured for a tall paper crown and strips were cut and pasted for a properly tangled effect, the kids went to work with feathers, sequins and colored straw.
Laurel Kelly's featured a black crown covered with green, black and red feathers, and lots of the raffia leaves, which she decided to braid as she asked question after question.
"Look: new bangs. I dyed them," joked the 8-year-old, as the colored straw hung over her forehead. Laurel, a third-grader at the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Day School, said she loves to draw.
Terrell Ashley, 10, who attends Hazelwood Elementary School, couldn't believe he'd won an Orioles umbrella, pictures and stickers at the radar speed-pitching machine in another part of the Brokerage.
"I guessed 30 miles an hour -- and it was exactly 30 miles an hour! I didn't think I could ever throw more than 19 miles an hour," he said. "Now, I'm going to make this crown, then the Hanukkah candles, and then I'm going over there and make a bird."
The museum staff and volunteers tried to clean the place a bit, but the floor still sparkled with sequins when Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke came at midday, stopping to talk to Terrell as he surveyed the busy artists.
"This is great," said Mr. Schmoke.
On a more serious note, the mayor said of the event, "We're trying to show people we're bringing the Brokerage back to life. We're going to create an international children's center, anchored by the Children's Museum."
The whole Market Place area will be rejuvenated, he predicted, boosted by a planned subway stop at the Shot Tower and a new ownership group working with the city.
Baltimore Children's Museum Inc. has presented preliminary plans that feature the museum in a $15 million to $20 million children's center at the shopping complex at 34 Market Place, just off the Inner Harbor. The consultants' report outlined a plan for a 3-acre complex with offices for advocacy groups, a 250-seat theater, a wellness clinic and other facilities.
Market Place saw two failed developments during the 1980s: the Brokerage shopping complex, and a nightclub complex called the Fishmarket.
Other projects planned for the area include the $160 million Columbus Center on Piers 5 and 6, a $32 million SportsCenter USA at the Pier 4 Power Plant and redevelopment of the Baltimore City Community College campus.