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Y in Druid Hill celebrates 100th anniversary

Turron Davenport | 6/3/2016, 6 a.m.
The Y of Central Maryland plans a major celebration on Saturday, June 4, 2016 for the 100th anniversary of the ...
The Y of Central Maryland plans a major celebration on Saturday, June 4, 2016 for the 100th anniversary of the Y in Druid Hill. The celebration will tout the Y in Druid Hill's significant history, as it was the only place in Baltimore where African Americans could swim in an indoor pool during segregation. It's also where Thurgood Marshall and jazz legend Cab Calloway learned to swim. Photo from 1930. Photos Courtesy of Y of Central Maryland

— The Y of Central Maryland plans a major celebration on Saturday, June 4, 2016 for the 100th anniversary of the Y in Druid Hill.

The free event— an outdoor, community festival— will feature barbecue, family games, a moon bounce, live DJ and other attractions, according to organization officials.

Present day Druid Hill YMCA

(Courtesy Photo)

Present day Druid Hill YMCA

Mostly though, the celebration will tout the Y in Druid Hill’s significant history, as it was the only place in Baltimore where African Americans could swim in an indoor pool during segregation. It’s also where Thurgood Marshall and jazz legend Cab Calloway learned to swim.

“Given that the Y in Central Maryland has been an integral part of life in Druid Hill for 100 years, I don’t think the impact can be overstated,” said John Hoey, president and CEO of the Y in Central Maryland. “The Y has been a place of recreation, socialization, community and safety for many generations of families and individuals in Druid Hill and will remain so for years to come.”

Within the context of all the change the Druid Hill neighborhood has seen over the past 100 years— through good times and more challenging times— the commitment and stability of the Y has been an unwavering source of opportunity and a positive influence on many levels for the residents there and those in surrounding areas, he said.

The Y in Druid Hill contains an indoor pool that is up to 12.5 meters long; a state-of-the-art fitness center; cardio room with personal television monitors, weights, expresso bikes and Cybex strength training equipment. The historic Y also has a cycle studio, gym, computer program lab, multipurpose program rooms and a stay and play supervised activity room for children.

“Perhaps the most important positive statement I hear most is that the Y is a place for all,” Hoey said. “We bring together people from all walks of life into a welcoming environment that is as good for your soul as it is for your body. We strengthen family and community bonds as well as muscles.”

The Y has also grown over the years and Hoey said it’s in a constant state of change, bigger than ever with more points of access and more people served.

“In Druid Hill specifically, we renovated and modernized in the last decade. We lowered membership rates to be more accessible to more people in the community and we have added more youth development, as well as volunteerism opportunities to serve a broader range of needs,” Hoey said, adding that the Y is like “the town square and it’s true.”

When asked what does the future hold for the Y in Druid Hill, Hoey was quick to respond.

“First of all, we are committed to being a positive and stable force in the community for the next 100 years and beyond. That said, while our mission will never change, we will continue to change to meet the needs of the community,” he said. “We are always asking ourselves, how can we do more, be even more relevant in people’s lives? We are actively asking those questions now and continuing to assess ways we can shift and change to be more responsive to the neighborhood as it exists today,” Hoey said.

“There are significant challenges in Druid Hill and we want to do everything we can, along with other community partners, to more assertively address those needs,” he said.

For the 100th anniversary celebration, Hoey said there’s lots of fun to be had by all.

“On Saturday, June 4 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., we are having a party on the street in front of the Y in Druid Hill and everyone is invited,” he said. “Barbecue games, a DJ, arts and crafts, loads of fun. Just come on down.”