As Cecil County gets ready for Christmas on this weekend before the big holiday we’ve been to Port Deposit, North East, and Chesapeake City. The hustle and bustle we found in each of these places was exciting to see for it reminded us of a time decades ago when downtown Elkton was packed with holiday shoppers from throughout the county. Before the 1970s, customers went to downtown merchants such as J. J. Newberry, Stanley’s Newsstand, Elkton Supply, Jacob Singman Men’s Store, Faez Apparel, McMillman’s Sporting Goods, Sears and dozens of others for just the right gift for people on their list. But all that changed in the era of shopping malls and Internet retailing, although we see how successful some towns have been with revitalizing the old business districts in the 21st century.
Friday evening we stopped in Port Deposit and found a lively scene at Joe’s Grog House. This new restaurant, which opened about two weeks ago, specializes in Southwestern and Cajun food. A nice crowd filled the tables and bar on the cold December evening. The eatery was first class all the way around for we enjoyed fine food, excellent drinks, and outstanding service. We’ll become regulars at this new place which has reasonable prices. By-the-way, a two weeks earlier we stopped into Back Fin Blues and to our great delight found an excellent five star restaurant for fine dining in the heart of the historic town, which we’ve also added to our list. Having some selection of quality restaurants is essential for revitalization of the central business districts and Port Deposit is excelling in that area. It now has four fine restaurants, along with a selection of pubs and semi-fast food places.
Saturday we shopped in North East and Chesapeake City. There are dozens of stores in these two communities providing a full selection of quality gifts for special ones on your list. While we strolled around, Christmas music floated through the air, holiday lights glowed attractively, and people filled the streets going from shop to shop. In North East Santa was busy greeting children in his house on Main Street, while in Chesapeake City the historic homes dressed for the holidays added to the atmopshere. With such ambiance in these old downtowns and specialty shops filled with unique items, it was the perfect setting for creating a holiday mood as people made cash registers ring. We also enjoyed the opportunity to stroll and talk with people as we passed a relaxing few hours, enjoying a Saturday afternoon on the day before the official start of winter.
Anyone familiar with the recent past in these towns know that they have undergone a full evolution, which ranged from lively business districts serving local people in the middle of the 20th century to an era of decline as retailing models changed. But now these three places, drawing on historic, cultural, and locational attributes, have revitalized their business districts, drawing shoppers from a wide area.