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Columbia Inspired

A Merri and Bright Weekend

Jan 09, 2022 04:16PM ● By Adrienne Ross

Color Burst park was certainly bursting with holiday spirit during the Merri & Bright Holiday Market event on December 3rd. Lights twinkled against the backdrop of the Merriweather District’s Juniper building, and the warmth and glow of the restaurant windows with people enjoying the hot fare. With the arrival of new restaurants, such as Dok Khao Thai Eatery, Clove & Cardamom, Busboys And Poets, and The Charmery, Color Burst Park has become a popular destination for any appetite. I was impressed with the community’s engagement for this event, or the community’s involvement in this event. The Merriweather District continues to show that our small city can deliver when it comes to special events, and I loved that this charming cultural experience was five minutes from my front door - no trek to Baltimore or D.C. needed. The Merri weekend was the perfect opportunity to chat with neighbors, try new treats, and finish a bit of holiday shopping. It checked all the boxes.

A large sign that read JOY welcomed people of all ages and set the tone for the evening under the stage near Busboys and Poets. Strings of lights glowed, setting the mood as the sun set on Columbia and a string quartet played holiday classics. It was a still, clear evening with enough chill in the air to leave no doubt that winter was around the corner. Families and couples strolled among the shops, and some enjoyed the new ice skating rink. The white snowflakes strung from above twinkled as laughter and smiles spread across flushed cheeks.


There was enough room for everyone to enjoy the myriad of activities. Lines were short and moved quickly, local vendors lined the sidewalk in white pitched tents, and community artisans sold wares like jewelry and baked goods. There was a tent offering gifts for anyone on my list. There was a booth with ornaments made from Maryland Crab shells for the Maryland aficionado, and the EC Letters booth offered customized calligraphy for almost anything. I bought hand-designed garden herb markers for my green-thumbed friends. Cotton Duck’s owner Jeremy sold his uniquely designed printed cozy apparel, and Simply Whimsical was filled with drawings of fun and fantastical creatures - ask about the backstories if you get the chance. Simple Mind Design had a wide variety of beautifully designed outdoor enthusiast prints on paper, magnets, and stickers. I purchased a set of bicycle magnets designed on old bottle tops. 

For those looking for a slower-paced night, there was much to offer. Wine was sold by the glass, and homemade hot chocolate crafted by The Charmery was also cradled in hands. There was plenty of free seating to rest your legs after strolling the booths or ice skating. People gathered in groups of cozy Adirondack chairs around festive centerpieces next to the ice skating rink, a perfect place to chat with friends or enjoy your beverage and people watch. I appreciated all the free activities for children. A mailbox marked “North Pole” encouraged children to write a letter to Santa. Envelopes and colorful paper covered children’s tables encouraging them to pick up a pen. Other booths offered ornament making and festive paper to cut into trees or snowmen.

From the beautiful towering tree decked out with all the holiday frills, the sparkling lines of well-lit kiosks, and the glistening ice skating rink, there were enough photo ops to make anyone feel like an amateur photographer. I hope the event returns next year because, whether taking a holiday card photo with the Merri & Bright sign, picking out a Merriweather District ornament for the tree, or sipping hot chocolate under the stars.  This felt like the start of a beautiful new family tradition and we are looking forward to attending this event in 2023.

Photography by Blaze Squirewell

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