Nok Kim, owner of Rainbow Laundry, hands out gifts at his annual Christmas party. Photo from Paul Grenier.
Guest post by Paul Grenier
Christmas parties for local Long Branch children has become an annual tradition at Rainbow Laundry in Silver Spring, whose owner, Nok Kim, has become a favorite with neighborhood children and parents alike.
What started as a small event run just by the laundromat has now blossomed into an expression of the spirit of this area, whose small shop owners and bilingual residents have become something special in recent years.
At this year’s Christmas party, on Thursday, Dec. 21, there were about 45 children, plus about half as many parents in attendance.
Many of the children’s parents are also clients of Rainbow Laundry, the site of the event. What is more, a number of the children are also regulars at the weekly arts and crafts studio held every Thursday at 6 p.m. at Rainbow Laundry (it will be taking a break, though, until Jan. 11). The arts classes are sponsored by the local small businesses with support from the Long Branch Business League and the Montgomery Housing Partnership.
During the Christmas party, a crafts activity was organized by the group that runs the weekly arts studio at Rainbow Laundry (Voices-DC, run by Viktoria Shalaginova, who was also present and helping out).
Meanwhile, the Business League had hired carolers, who sang Christmas carols throughout the evening, while everything else is going on. Children spontaneously joined in the singing after a while.
Meanwhile, local restaurants in Long Branch donated food for the event. El Golfo (8739 Flower Ave.) brought a hearty platter as an entree. El Gavilan (next door to El Golfo, and also on Flower Avenue) brought a platter of of pupusas. Two local bakeries—both La Pasion and Panaderia El Arbol de Pan—brought cookies and other snacks. All the food was donated.
The owner of Rainbow Laundry was in constant motion throughout the evening, serving food, bringing supplies where needed, and, at the end, joins up with Santa (John Angel, manager of el Gavilan restaurant and vice president of the Business League) to hand out gifts. Originally, the president of the Business League, Carlos Perozo, owner of nearby ZP Tax, was going to be Santa, but it turned out he was too tall for the costume Kim had on hand.
The gifts were a big hit. Everyone but the smallest kids got fidget spinners, which are taking the toy world by storm this year, as Kim, who is savvy about such things, had figured out. As you can see from one of the pictures, they were very well liked.
Paul Grenier is the Economic Development Coordinator of Montgomery Housing Partnership and Administrator, Long Branch Business League.
Children caroling and opening gifts at the Christmas party. Photos from Paul Grenier.