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Holiday Spirits

This past December I covered the Ms. Claus pub crawl in the Baltimore neighborhood of Hampden (because nothing says Christmas like booze and caroling). Here’s my piece from the January issue of Baltimore magazine.

It’s just like any other December night on the 700 block of 34th Street in Hampden as hundreds of visitors throng the sidewalks to glimpse the glowing bulbs and holiday fixtures that, for 64 years, have made this street the pinnacle of holiday cheer.

Joining the merriment on this chilly evening are about 40 women decked out as Ms. Claus, singing their hearts out to the season’s favorite carols. They are part of the 4th annual Ms. Claus Pub Crawl, which crawled into its first pub, Holy Frijoles on 36th Street, several hours ago. Despite a chill in the air (and several cocktails in their bloodstream), these women carol in harmony.

The Ms. Claus that grabs the most attention is Jenny Campbell. A cofounder of the event, she is decked out in a Marie “Santoinette” outfit, her white wig so large that it encases a snow globe equipped with a small light and fan. Her red velvet dress billows overtop enormous hoops and lands at her feet, which are strutting a pair of knee-high gold platform boots. In her left hand is a red and white striped chalice containing an unidentified substance.

“We’re drinkers,” Campbell says of her fellow carolers, but quickly adds that money raised from the pub crawl will go to the House of Ruth.

The Ms. Clauses finish up their final song of the evening before making their way to one last watering hole, Rocket to Venus on Chestnut Avenue. Singing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” as they walk, they wind their way through traffic to the sounds of car horns and hoots.

Despite some inevitable hangovers, the crowd has agreed to march in the 39th annual Mayor’s Annual Christmas Parade tomorrow, representing Hamden’s Ma Petite Shoe.. Troopers all, they’ll go on to win Best New Entry.

Originally published in Baltimore magazine.

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