December 2, 2021

Message from the County Executive



Dear friends,

Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish community. And I hope everyone’s holiday season is off to a joyous start.

Montgomery County is home to a diversity of cultures and customs from around the world to see, experience, and learn about during this season. Whether it is Hanukkah, Diwali, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year, and more, this is the time of year for gathering with family and friends, celebrations, and parties; and it is a time when many reflect on the past year and anticipate the coming year. As you enjoy this time of year, please keep in mind those among us who do not have a lot to celebrate. We promoted “Giving Tuesday” this past week, and I encourage you and your family, if you’re able, to give back to your neighbors, your community, and especially those in need every day of this season and throughout the year. I know that so many of you already do that, and your dedication is remarkable. And, as we know sometimes this season can be too focused on consumerism, so I’d like to highlight the importance of putting the “green” in holiday festivities. Check out our Department of Environmental Protection’s “Gift Greener” challenge.

COVID-19 VACCINATION MILESTONE

On the COVID-19 front, this week, Montgomery County hit a major milestone. We achieved 80 percent of our total population fully vaccinated – this is a big deal. We are the first in the State, the region, and among very few jurisdictions throughout the nation to get to this 80-percent fully vaccinated threshold. To put this in context, Howard County, who has done equally well at vaccinating their residents, is second at 76 percent - 4 percentage points behind us. However, despite this wonderful success, we continue to see more than 100 new COVID-19 cases per day. We now have a higher case rate than our neighbors in Prince George’s County who did not lift their indoor mask mandate over the past month like we did. Prince George’s announced they are keeping their indoor mask mandate in place until at least the end of January. I hope that the County Council, sitting as the Board of Health, makes a similar decision.

I want to thank the State for providing the County with 1000s of rapid test kits. We are providing these kits to our minority health initiatives and community partners, and we are also reaching out to the restaurant, food and building trade industries to provide them for some of our frontline workers. Going into the upcoming holidays and, quite frankly, our path forward is going to be determined by how well we can vaccinate, test, contain, and mitigate this virus.

We are also up to over 202,000 booster/3rd shots provided.



Although, this number is the most in the State, I would like to see more people getting their booster, especially over the holidays. Every eligible adult who received their two doses of Moderna or Pfizer more than six months ago or Johnson & Johnson more than two months ago can get a booster. Boosters are available at pharmacies and through other private providers, and they’re also available at County-operated clinics as well as at our partner clinics. You can read more about eligibility and locations here.

We are also continuing to vaccinate our 5–11-year-olds. We are currently more than one-third of the way through this population, and we are far ahead of everywhere else in the State in the number of children vaccinated. In fact, this week the State has sent us additional doses because of our success at vaccinating children.



If you need a vaccine, a booster, or a vaccine for your child – getting your shot is simple, easy and available. Please go to GoVaxMoCo.com to locate the nearest provider locations.

ANOTHER VARIANT EMERGES

Last week, we were made aware of the new Omicron variant. This variant had been found in 20 countries and just this week was found in our country. This is similar to the trajectory of the Delta variant. Delta, first detected in India at the end of last year, was not named “Delta” until the end of May this year and began seriously affecting our country by mid-summer. We hope that we can get through the holidays without experiencing what happened last summer; but, we need to be very clear: Just as Delta was different than the original COVID-19 virus, Omicron is not Delta. This mutational profile is different from other variants and has a large number of mutations, some of which experts have said are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant. We are better prepared and to some degree less vulnerable than we were to earlier surges (assuming that the vaccines retain some moderating effect on the severity of the infections from Omicron). Omicron’s emergence should not cause panic, but it should cause us to review our current preparedness and continue to promote vaccinations, boosters and testing, all of which we are doing.

CELEBRATING AND SUPPORTING BUSINESSES LARGE AND SMALL

We all know that there are longstanding issues in the County that at times impede our economic success, but we have worked over the last two years to reform and address many of the issues that have been raised. We have also had some amazing recent successes and potential opportunities. I have been engaging with businesses large and small over the past months; and, although many are still recovering, there is a lot of optimism and anticipation of better days ahead. As was announced a few weeks ago, 76 Montgomery County companies received record funding of more than $18 billion in private investment during the first three quarters of this year, which is great news!

On Monday, I received a tour of the new Marriott corporate headquarters, and the soon-to-be opened hotel on the adjacent properties in downtown Bethesda. This 785,000 square-foot office building, will have more than 3,500 Marriott employees, be LEED Gold certified, and have state-of-the-art technology throughout. Marriott considered dozens of relocation options around Maryland, DC, and Virginia, and chose to stay in Montgomery County due to the walkability, transit access, and host of amenities in the Bethesda area. As I toured this building, I was impressed with the sustainable construction practices being used. For example, this new building will be heated with electricity, not natural gas. This is an important environmental step, and it is why electric heating of commercial buildings is part of our Building Energy Performance Standards legislation that we sent to the Council last spring. It is an important part of our efforts to address climate change. We are hoping the Council will act on this legislation before the end of the year.

Additionally on Monday, I was pleased to join Councilmember Evan Glass along with Del. Jheanelle Wilkins, Del. Lorig Charkoudian, and Del. David Moon to announce $231,000 in State funds that will be distributed as grants for businesses affected by Purple Line construction. At this event, I talked to several of these small business owners that are being severely impacted. These grants will be some help, but more is needed. We must keep fighting for more funding to assist businesses along the Purple Line. The Purple Line Construction Zone Grant Program - Maryland House Bill 114 - could mean more support for small businesses through the Purple Line Construction Zone Grant Program. It was vetoed during the last session, but the veto could be overridden during the upcoming special session next week. Overriding the veto would mean $2 million more that would be made available to the businesses in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. This is important for many of our small and minority-owned businesses who are not only facing the challenges of the pandemic, but also the disruption of Purple Line construction. I support the Maryland General Assembly’s effort to override this veto and hope it succeeds.

For Small Business Saturday last weekend, I stopped by several small, family owned, and minority and woman owned businesses. It was great to shop local and I also really enjoyed talking with and listening to the owners and employees who have such pride in their stores. I also heard how tough the past 22 months have been for them. We want to encourage everyone to shop small and local throughout this holiday season. If any residents are shopping at a local store this season, we are encouraging them to share a picture or experience on your social media under #KeepingMoneyInMontgomery.

You could actually visit our beautiful Agricultural Reserve and at the same time shop local this weekend at the Countryside Artisans Studio Tour.

COMMEMORATING WORLD AIDS DAY

I attended a World AIDS Day Solidarity Breakfast that was part of our implementation of Montgomery County’s Plan to End HIV. It was a wonderful event where we discussed the importance of helping our residents get tested for HIV and were also able to get tested ourselves. Our Health and Human Services Department also hosted a Reflection & Resilience Vigil & Open House at the Dennis Avenue Health Center in Silver Spring with an outdoor candlelight vigil to honor and memorialize those who have passed away from complications of HIV/AIDS and COVID-19. Montgomery County is home to NIH as well as some incredible biotech companies that are working on HIV/AIDS cures and treatments. We are also an inclusionary and compassionate community that treats all individuals who contract HIV/AIDS with assistance, respect, and dignity. We have a lot to celebrate in terms of progress made in combatting with HIV/AIDS over the past 40 years, but we still have many who are dealing with the physical, mental, and financial health impacts of contracting this virus.

STANDING UP TO REMEMBER ROSA PARKS

Also on December 1st, I proclaimed “Rosa Parks Day” in Montgomery County, recognizing Rosa Parks’ heroic refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus on Thursday, December 1, 1955. This courageous act helped galvanize the Civil Rights movement and triggered the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott that lasted for 381 days. To mark the occasion and this historic anniversary, we have installed a placard on each County-operated bus that states “Dedicated to the memory of Rosa Parks. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks took a seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and changed the course of American history.”



These placards will remain on every bus in a visible location to bus passengers throughout the month of December. It is regrettable to note that as we celebrate Rosa Parks month that there are states and politicians that want to limit and repeal civil rights victories. It a travesty that we have to refight these battles today. We need to restore this country on the path of expanding civil rights, not regressing them.

As always, with appreciation for all of you,



Marc Elrich
County Executive

December 1, 2021

County Executive Elrich and Councilmember Glass Joined by State Delegates to Announce $231,000 Appropriation to Assist Small Businesses Impacted by Purple Line Construction



Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and Montgomery County Councilmember Evan Glass, a member of the Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee, were joined this week by Council President Tom Hucker; State Delegates Jheanelle Wilkins, Lorig Charkoudian and David Moon; Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart; Javier Rivas from the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC); and business leaders to announce that $231,000 has been appropriated to the County by the Maryland Department of Commerce to assist small businesses that have lost revenue due to the Purple Line construction.

The event was held in front of the Silver Spring Library, which will be one of the stops on the Purple Line, the future 16.2-mile light rail line that will extend from Bethesda in Montgomery County to New Carrollton in Prince George’s County.

“It was a little over a year ago, many of us stood together on a cold day asking the State to provide much needed funding to assist small businesses that had lost revenues due to Purple Line construction,” said County Executive Elrich.” “Thanks to efforts of our delegation, led by Delegate Wilkins, we were able to stand together this week to announce this important appropriation. I also want to thank County Councilmember Glass for his partnership as the lead Council sponsor for this appropriation. Hopefully, this is just the beginning and more help is on the way. I am very optimistic that House Bill 114, which was vetoed earlier this year, will be overridden during next week’s special session of the General Assembly. This would provide an additional $2 million to assist businesses for Fiscal Years 2023 and 2024 and help even more businesses.”

Councilmember Glass said: "Last weekend, we celebrated Small Business Saturday, but we know that we need to support small businesses every day of the year. The delays in the Purple Line construction, compounded by the pandemic, have made it even more difficult for businesses along the route to survive. I want businesses in Long Branch, Lyttonsville, Takoma Park and Bethesda to know that relief is on the way—and that these funds are just the beginning.”

Next week, the Maryland General Assembly will have a special legislative session to address legislation before the end of the year. During that special session, House Bill 114 is slated to be discussed. The bill was vetoed during the regular session of the General Assembly in the spring, but the veto could be overridden during the special session. If the veto is overridden it would mean an additional $2 million in funding would be made available to the businesses in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Fiscal Years 2023 and 2024.

Delegate Wilkins of District 20 said: “We’ve worked for several years to reach this point, and I’m proud of the State, County and business coordination, that helped to deliver these critical funds to our small businesses that are doubly impacted by Purple Line Construction and COVID-19. These funds are just the start of the comprehensive support necessary to ensure that these businesses can thrive during and after construction.”

Delegate Moon said: "Through no fault of their own, businesses along the Purple Line route have faced the double-whammy of COVID-19 closures and construction disruption at the same time. I'm glad to see a half million dollars in relief funds flowing to the community, but disappointed Governor Hogan vetoed an additional $2 million in aid. I'll be ready to join colleagues and override Hogan's veto next week in Annapolis."

The Maryland Department of Commerce appropriated the $231,000 in funding to Montgomery County that will assist local businesses with grants of no more than $5,000.

"Maryland Commerce is very pleased to work with our partners in Montgomery County to get funding into the hands of businesses that have lost customers and revenue due to the Purple Line construction," said Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz. "Our small businesses are the foundation of our economy in Maryland, and we are committed to providing the support and resources needed so they can grow and flourish."

Javier Rivas, Senior Small Business Development Manager said: “Since 2018, the Latino Economic Development Center has been advocating for a construction impact mitigation grant program for businesses adversely affected by the Purple Line construction project. The establishment of the Purple Line Light Rail Grant Program is a step in the right direction, set to benefit close to 40 businesses. LEDC will continue to offer its robust programming, so existing small businesses are well-positioned to leverage the economic opportunities that await with the completion of the project.”

Businesses interested in learning more about the grant program and other assistance can go to https://www.ledcmetro.org/purple_line_grant on LEDC’s website.

County Recognizes ‘Rosa Parks’ Day’ With Special Tribute on Ride On Buses



Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich proclaimed Wed., Dec. 1, as “Rosa Parks Day” to recognize the American hero’s refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Ala., bus on Dec. 1, 1955. To honor Ms. Parks, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) placed placards about her in its transit vehicles and promoted the day through social media and ongoing policy and program efforts.


MCDOT Director Chris Conklin joined County Executive Elrich and others at a County Council presentation in recognizing Ms. Parks’ action that inspired millions to stand up for fundamental fairness.

Ms. Parks' arrest sparked the boycott that started days later of Montgomery, Ala., city buses by 42,000 African Americans. That movement helped change the course of America. “The Montgomery Bus Boycott” lasted 381 days, ending with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Nov. 13, 1956, that segregation on city buses was unconstitutional.

County’s Office of Consumer Protection to Celebrate 50 Years of Accomplishments by Inviting Public to Join Ceremonies on Monday, Dec. 6

Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection, which has been recognized as one of the nation’s foremost and oldest government consumer protection agencies, is inviting the public to join its 50th anniversary celebration at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 6, in the Council Office Building’s first floor auditorium in Rockville. The event will celebrate the office’s five decades of accomplishments.

The Council Office Building is located at 100 Maryland Ave. in Downtown Rockville.

On Tuesday, Dec. 7, a proclamation issued by Council President Marc Elrich and the County Council will be presented at the Council’s virtual weekly meeting. The meeting, which will be televised on the County cable station County Cable Montgomery (CCM), is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.

The office was established in one of the first actions taken when Montgomery County in 1971 became a County Council / County Executive form of government. Starting with limited funds and a staff of two, in her 25 years of leadership, Director Barbara B. Gregg guided Maryland’s first local government consumer protection agency to become a nationally recognized office. The County Council’s goal in forming the office was “to strike a blow on behalf of each and every citizen of Montgomery County,” and over the years, the office has done more than that.

Among the actions the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) has taken that have gained national attention were its efforts to control predatory towing that existed at near crisis levels in Montgomery County and in other communities nationwide. The office has enforced laws that prohibit unfair and deceptive trade practices and has worked to maintain a fair marketplace for consumers and merchants. The office enacted, administered and enforced one of the first local laws in the country requiring that each newly constructed home be covered by a warranty program, has successfully resolved thousands of individual complaints and returned millions of dollars to consumers. It initiated successful lawsuits or legal actions on behalf of consumers against an auto dealership, a plumbing firm and new home builders.

The enforcement actions taken by OCP have resulted in millions of dollars being obtained for consumers and served as a clear message and deterrent to any unscrupulous merchants.

The efforts of the office have led it to be recognized or cited as the main experts on consumer experts by national media including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report, Kiplingers, Money Magazine and Business Week. Representatives of OCP have appeared on network television programs including Today Show, DateLine, 20/20, Prime Time Live, Good Morning America and 48 Hours.

“As much as we hope that all businesses, service contractors and charity organizations operate in the best interests of residents and the County, unfortunately, the reality is that some do just the opposite,” said Eric Friedman, who has been the OCP director since 2007 “In so many areas of the country, there have been few consumer protection agencies that actively seek to resolve issues and make sure they do not happen again. Each case in which we are successful serves as a deterrent to other businesses to upgrade their practices. We have a long record of helping residents and we will be there for the next challenges.”

In addition to assisting individual residents, OCP initiated free mediation services for businesses to resolve disputes against other business. Highly trained volunteer mediators conduct in-person mediation sessions in the OCP office to engage in the mediation efforts and prepare written agreements.

Over the years, County Executives and the County Council have respected the office enough to increase its responsibilities. The operation has grown to oversee the licensing or registering of businesses including auto repair shops, towing companies, new home builders, appliance repair shops and secondhand personal property dealers in Montgomery County.

As new laws and regulations were established, OCP’s enforcement domain expanded to a variety of different areas, encompassing estimated property tax disclosures, domestic workers’ contracts, radon testing, and new home sales contracts. Recently, the office was selected to serve as Montgomery County’s information liaison for its newly established Public Campaign Financing program.

The achievements of Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection include:
  • Child Passenger Safety Seats: OCP was the first local consumer protection agency to establish a child passenger safety seat program and to cross-train investigators to be certified to check and install child safety seats in vehicles. The program was credited with saving lives before it was transferred to Montgomery County’s Fire and Rescue Service. Staff assisted in thousands of free seat checks in collaboration with a local car dealership.
  • Predatory Towing: Several years ago, predatory towing existed at near crisis levels in Montgomery County and nationwide in other communities. Vehicles were being towed from public shopping centers and vehicle owners were forced to pay high fees to obtain return of their cars. The activities became a lucrative business practice for unscrupulous towing firms and were detrimental to the well-being of business districts. In addition to investigating and resolving a large volume of individual complaints, OCP helped draft revisions to Montgomery County’s towing law and Maryland’s towing law. Following these efforts, and in addition to a class action lawsuit filed by a private attorney, predatory towing practices are no longer flourishing in Montgomery County
  • Mandatory Warranty for New Homes: OCP enacted, administered and enforced one of the first local laws in the country requiring that each newly constructed home include a 10-year warranty and be covered by a warranty program. This ground-breaking law in Montgomery County is designed to provide protection for consumers when they are making their single largest consumer purchase.
  • Major Lawsuits and Legal Action: Most disputes filed with the Office are able to be resolved by negotiation, mediation, and settlement agreements. However, the Office has initiated successful lawsuits or legal actions against an auto dealership, a plumbing firm, new home builders, and a polybutylene pipe manufacturer for violating Montgomery County’s consumer protection laws. The Office used its authority to issue Administrative Subpoenas to gather information. These legal enforcement actions resulted in millions of dollars being obtained for consumers and served as a clear message and deterrent to any unscrupulous merchants.
  • OCP has been a champion for Montgomery County’s diverse immigrant population, keeping residents informed on programs that can protect them and representing burgeoning senior populations against multiple scams directly targeting them.
  • OCP has collaborated with the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, the Office of Intergovernmental Relations, Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition and other nonprofit organizations to advocate for legislation to better protect consumers. Such efforts led to legislation that created the Maryland Household Goods Movers Registration law and the Community Choice Energy state law and Maryland’s trespass towing law.
OCP’s professional staff has often operated in conjunction with a dedicated and award-winning contingent of volunteers. After intense training, the volunteers have provided thousands of hours of assistance helping investigators resolve disputes, conduct research and provide services to consumers and merchants. Volunteers have included retired attorneys; teachers; business executives; home makers; law school, college and high school interns; and multi-lingual speakers. Recently, an expert team investigated and exposed nationwide deceptive practices by a phony Political Action Committee (PAC) engaged in deceptive solicitations.

OCP also established a history of engaging in extensive collaborative efforts with other Montgomery County agencies to provide “silo free” services to educate and protect consumers. It collaborated with the Fire and Rescue Service to inspect retail stores and remove dangerous electrical devices that were being sold without the required safety certification labels. The office continues to collaborate with the Police Department regarding seven types of dispatches that police officers may receive related to consumer protection issues. The office created an online training module for police officers and applicants in the Police Training Academy. OCP collaborated with the Sheriff’s Office to establish an award-winning program to safeguard and return personal property and documents to consumers that would otherwise have been lost during an eviction at a place of business.

Believing that informing consumers in advance of potential scams and deceptive practices, OCP launched one of Montgomery County’s first cable TV shows to educate consumers and merchants. Consumer Digest was produced featuring guest speakers, helpful demonstrations and a quiz format. That show evolved into the more recent Consumer Compass and many two-minute alerts. All are available on OCP’s YouTube channel ConsumerWise.

More information about Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection is available on its website at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/ocp/.

COVID-19 Information Portal Has Statistics on the Virus Including Infections and Vaccinations by Zip Codes        



Montgomery County’s COVID-19 Information Portal provides a variety of breakdowns on how the virus has impacted the County. The statistics are updated to reflect the most recent reports from the State of Maryland during the health crisis. Among the information available is how many positive cases have been reported in each zip code in the County.             

For more information about the positive cases reported in the County by zip codes, visit the COVID-19 data dashboard at https://montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/data/.           

Other breakdowns on the COVID-19 information portal include:                    


‘Celebrating Wildlife Exhibit on Display at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg Through Jan. 30


Celebrating Wildlife, a free art exhibit featuring beautiful fauna ranging from tiny insects to some of the largest creatures on earth, will be on display through Jan. 30 at the Activity Center at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg. The exhibit, which features the work of 20 artists, was juried by painter and Gaithersburg Police Officer John Duke and photographer George Smith.


Bohrer Park is located at 506 South Frederick Ave. in Gaithersburg. Viewing hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday Visitors of all ages are welcome. Masks are required and social distancing and limited capacity protocols are in place.

The exhibit's artwork includes photography, oil, acrylic, and watercolor painting, colored pencil, graphite drawing, and printmaking.

Featured artists in the exhibit include Judy Anderson, Michael Brown, Howard Clark, John Duke, Hiral Joshi, Carol Leo, Timothy Lynch, Sheryl Massaro, Mary Paul Barnaby, Jean Phillips, Scott Roberts, Elizabeth Steel, Angela Suggs, David Terrar, Caroline Thorington, William Waller, Deborah Walmer, Richard Weiblinger and Freddi Weiner.

This exhibit also features six photographs in memoriam from Michael Kuchinsky, a retired professor of international politics and a semi‐retired Lutheran clergyperson from Derwood. He was formerly a member of the Gaithersburg Camera Club and the Rockville Art League.

Most of the featured artwork is for sale and all images are copyrighted by the artists. For more information and exhibit images, visit the Activity Center at Bohrer Park gallery webpage or contact the City’s Gallery program coordinator at 301-258-6394 or email artgalleries@gaithersburgmd.gov.

Free Ride On Bus Service Extended Through July 2

Free Ride On bus service will be extended through July 2. Early in the COVID-19 health crisis, the fares were suspended and a series of actions has continued the free service.

The Montgomery County Council voted this week to extend the free service. It had voted on Sept. 28 to extend the Ride On fare holiday through Jan. 2 in order to review the Ride On Fare Equity Study and County Executive Marc Elrich’s recommendations regarding future Ride On fares.

In May, the Council approved County Executive Elrich’s funding request for the County’s Department of Transportation (MCDOT) to conduct the Fare Equity Study for Ride On. The study was conducted through a MCDOT consultant.

A report by the Council’s Office of Legislative Oversight showed that 47 percent of Ride On customers have an annual household income below $30,000, 47 percent are people of color and 42 percent speak a language other than English at home.

The Council staff report and resolution can be found here.

‘Spirt of The Season’ Will Include Many Winter Activities From Montgomery Recreation

Montgomery County Recreation has numerous holiday events to bring out the spirit of the season. The activities will include such things as a holiday craft show; letters to Santa: a pancake breakfast; musical activities; and arts and crafts. The events will take place at community recreation centers located throughout the County.

Many of the activities are free. However, registration is encouraged as some events have limited space. Residents who have registered will have priority admittance if the event fills to capacity.

“This year our recreation team has special fun and surprises planned to help us come together as a community,” said Montgomery County Recreation Director Robin Riley. “I hope everyone can join at least one event, and hopefully all of them.”

Holiday activities will include:
  • Holiday Pajama Movie Night. 6 - 8:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 3. Damascus Community Recreation Center, 25520 Oak Drive, Damascus. Get your golden ticket to board the polar express movie night. Wear your most comfortable pajamas, grab a bag of popcorn and a nice warm cup of cocoa with marshmallows and relax with this favorite holiday movie.
  • Montgomery County Holiday Craft Show, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 4. Bauer Drive Community Recreation Center, 14625 Bauer Drive, Rockville. Featuring local and regional artists’ original works of fine art; photography; fabric arts; Jewelry; candles; holiday decorations; woodwork and more.
  • Letters to Santa (TR). 2-3 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 4. Germantown Community Recreation Center, 18905 Kingsview Road, Germantown. Children with disabilities who prefer a quieter, less stimulating environment are welcomed to join the letter to Santa event one hour earlier.
  • Letters to Santa. 3-7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 4. Germantown Community Recreation Center, 18905 Kingsview Road, Germantown. Enjoy letter writing; photos with Santa; cookie decorating; crafts; music and more.
  • Plum Gar’s Winter Wonderland, 6 -9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10. 19561 Scenery Drive, Germantown. An evening of holiday fun, which includes karaoke; cookie and ornament decorating; gift wrapping and light refreshments.
  • Santa’s Holiday Workshop, 1-3 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 11. Holiday Park Senior Center, 3950 Ferrara Drive, Wheaton. For families and individuals with disabilities. Santa and the elves will be there for photos, crafts and games and a holly, jolly celebration in a sensory-friendly environment.
  • Breakfast with Santa, 9-11 a.m., Sunday Dec. 19. Nancy H. Dacek North Potomac Community Recreation Center, 13850 Travilah Road, Rockville. Fun-filled breakfast will include a visit from Santa. $8 per person.

Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District Will Be Filled with Holiday Happenings 


The Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment District has a season full of holiday events to enjoy this winter. Upcoming events in Silver Spring include activities from the more than 100 arts and humanities organizations, popular arts venues, attractions and entertainment businesses in the Arts and Entertainment District.

Reservations or tickets are required for many of the events. The schedule includes:
  • Wreath Making Workshop in Downtown Silver Spring on Saturday, Dec. 4, from 1-2 p.m.  The Blue Ribbon Floral Flower Truck shows participants how to create custom wreaths to welcome in the holiday season. All supplies will be provided and participants will be able to take their wreath at the end of the event. 
  • Silver Spring Christmas Market and Holiday Craft Fair will occur on Veterans Plaza on Sunday, Dec. 5, from noon to 4 p.m. 
  • Maryland Youth Ballet is presenting The Mini-Nut, an abbreviated version of The Nutcracker, at the Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center on Saturday, Dec. 11, and Sunday, Dec. 12, at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The Mini-Nut, a one-hour version with no intermission, is a wonderful introduction to ballet for families with young children. 
  • The Akhmedova Ballet Academy is presenting a bold remastering of Nutcracker this holiday season in a special production of “Equal-Rights Night” presented at Montgomery College’s Cultural Arts Center in Silver Spring at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 18.  
Downtown Silver Spring also has a “Gifting Tower” as an unexpected and anything -but-ordinary holiday display by Design Foundry. The whimsical Gifting Tower, with its precariously stacked packages on a classic camper van, invokes fond memories of the joy and chaos of traveling home for the holidays. Enjoy the Sounds of the Season with holiday concerts by community groups every weekend through Saturday, Dec. 18. Performances include:  
  • Saturday, Dec. 4. 3 p.m.: Drop the Mic Acapella 
  • Saturday, Dec. 11: Noon: Powerhouse Brass Quintet; 3 p.m.: Six Degrees Singers 
  • Saturday, Dec. 18: Noon: Montgomery Blair’s InToneNation; 1:30 p.m.: Banneker Middle School Concert Choir; 3.p.m.: Drop the Mic 
Other holiday opportunities will include: 
  • The Cheer Station by The Eleanor. Cozy cocktails or spiked hot cider from noon to 6 p.m. through Dec. 18. 
  • Lumina Theater will be holding a holiday canned food drive at their performances of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist on at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10,  and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11, at the Silver Spring Black Box Theatre. The food drive will support Tommy's Pantry and the Capital Area Foodbank. 
  • The Majestic Theater is showing holiday movies Gremlins on Saturday, Dec. 4, Elf on Saturday, Dec. 11, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on Saturday, Dec. 18, and the Metropolitan Opera’s The Magic Flute Holiday Encore on Saturday, Dec. 11.  
The Silver Spring Ice Skating Rink is scheduled to open this winter. A date has not yet been set for the opening. 

For more information on Silver Spring events, visit the Silver Spring website. 

Wheaton Will Have Many Winter Holiday Events for the Whole Family


Wheaton’s Arts & Entertainment District and its surrounding region will have a wide variety of holiday celebrations and events throughout the winter season. There will be activities for the whole family—including the family pets.

“Wheaton is a fabulous place to shop for your local, artisan holiday presents throughout December,” said Luisa Cardona, director of Montgomery County’s Mid-County Regional Services Center. “You can find really unique crafts and gifts, have lunch at one of our multi-cultural restaurants and then take the family out for a fun holiday event.”

The winter schedule of events in the Wheaton area will include:
  • InterAct Story Theatre’s Wheaton Family Theatre Series Free Event: Synetic Theater’s "The Miraculous Magical Balloon.” Saturday, Dec. 4, 11 a.m. and Sunday, Dec. 5, 2 p.m. Highland Elementary School. The show is a hilarious pantomime sketch incorporating music, ballet, clowning and audience participation. Expressed through body and facial masks, pantomime illusions, and unique choreography, The Miraculous Magical Balloon tells the story of a traveling actor and his magical trunk of tricks and toys. Event is free and open to the public. No tickets or registration needed.
  • Frozen The Musical. Saturday, Dec. 11. Performances at 12:30 and 2 p.m. Westfield Wheaton. Come sing-along with Anna, Elsa, Olaf and Hans, take selfies with the characters and take home a surprise keepsake while supplies last. Limited space is available. Free, but tickets are required.
  • Join Lina Tembo as she talks food and culture with local food artisans at Chop Talk: Holiday Edition. Saturday, Dec. 11. 7:30 p.m. FAS Marketplace.
  • Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens. Every night through Jan. 2, except Dec. 24-25. Brookside Gardens will be transformed into a magical winter wonderland for the 23rd year of Garden of Lights. Walk through the outdoor twinkling lights and glimmering displays that dot the paths and flowerbeds. More than one million dazzling and colorful LED lights are handwoven into original works depicting animals, flowers and other natural elements. Advanced tickets are required.
  • Pet Night with Santa. Monday, Dec. 6, 4-7 p.m., and Monday, Dec. 13, and Monday, Dec. 20, 4-8 p.m. Westfield Wheaton. Bring your furry four-legged friend for their close-up with Santa. Dogs and cats only. Pets must be leashed and/or caged. Donations to the Humane Society will be accepted.
  • A Visit with Santa for children. Through Dec. 24, noon-7p m. daily. Westfield Wheaton. In partnership with Autism Speaks, the shopping center will offer Sensory Santa visits with limited stimulation from 9:30-10:30 a.m. on Dec. 5 and 12.
  • FAS Marketplace will offer live virtual holiday shopping with craft artisans at the The Artisan Trunk Show on Friday, Dec. 4, 6 p.m. FAS Marketplace also will host The Artist Vibe with host Tinesi Minikon for performances by new and upcoming visual artists, performing artists, door prizes, and an evening of fun on Friday, Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m.
  • Hixters Holiday Concert. Saturday, Dec. 18, noon-1 p.m. Westfield Wheaton. The performance will feature holiday classics by a string quartet.
  • Candy Cane with a Cop. Friday, Dec. 17. 1-2 p.m. Westfield Wheaton. Montgomery County Police Department will be part of the event. Play area will also feature story time, snacks, crafts and more.
  • Holiday Dance recital. Presented by Wheaton Studio of Dance. Saturday, Dec. 18. Noon. Westfield Wheaton. The Wheaton Studio of Dance, founded by Joni Reese, is in its 63rd year under artistic director and owner Shannon Rush-Locke.
  • Wheaton Arts Parade Gallery in Westfield Wheaton will exhibit a new show entitled “Celebration.” Exhibit will be open through Jan. 23. The exhibit features artwork by 25 local artists, displaying their impressions of the winter season. Free admission.
Additional activities include programs at the Wheaton Recreation Center. The center will have drop-in basketball for youth, families, and adults and drop-in pickleball, badminton and volleyball for seniors.

For those interested in giving, Montgomery Housing Partnership, Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad, and the Wheaton & Kensington Chamber of Commerce are sponsoring their 23rd annual Angels for Children 2021 Toy Drive.

For more information on the Wheaton Arts & Entertainment District, Wheaton Urban District or the surrounding area, visit Wheatonmd.org.

More information about the events is available at wheatonmd.org or by calling 311.