From an initial dozen stores to approximately a million square feet of retail space, Beltway Plaza has grown tremendously in its 50 years. Now Beltway Plaza is an anchor for the local residents, not only because of its quantity of restaurants, retail stores, and entertainment opportunities, but for its embrace of the Greenbelt community.
Beltway Plaza, along with the Greenbelt News Review and Paradyme Management, is a sponsor of the Greenbelt Community Foundation’s (GCF) 10th anniversary celebration campaign, Explore Your Greenbelt. To celebrate, Beltway Plaza is hosting a Back-to-School Community Family Day, Saturday, August 27 from 2 to 6 p.m. on the upper level in front of Big Lots. WKYS Radio will entertain the crowd, the plaza’s own Balloon Clown and Plaza Woman will give away keys to the popular Beltway Plaza Treasure Chest, and free raffles will feature other prizes, including a trip to Ocean City. All Greenbelters are invited to attend to have fun and to learn how GCF lives out its mission of “nourishing all of Greenbelt’s neighborhoods.”
Back-to-School Community Family Day is just another example of the family events found at this key shopping center. As Beltway Plaza expanded, it grew the number of free community activities, including the upcoming Hispanic Heritage Month Family Day on October 2, which features live music, food, and games in the parking lot in of the mall, to the annual Halloween Trick-or-Treat inside the mall that includes a costume contest for children of all ages.
Well-known to plaza shoppers is the Wall of Fame that honors local citizens who have made a difference in the community. Along with the names of local sports figures, politicians, and education professionals is a crowd favorite, Andy the K-9 dog and his partner Sergeant Robert Heverly. K-9 Andy received an American Red Cross “Real Hero – Medal of Courage” for his help apprehending an armed carjacking suspect, and was honored posthumously on the Beltway Plaza Wall of Fame. The Greenbelt community and Beltway plaza continue to recognize outstanding citizens by adding names to the wall three to four times a year.
Another community benefit found at the plaza is information on health and wellness. Avon has offered information about breast cancer and the Wellness on Wheels Mobile Health Clinic periodically parks at the plaza and offers free screenings for diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure. The shopping mall not only promotes health awareness but also makes efforts to donate to important causes. The Plaza’s Ping Pong tournament on October 8 donates its proceeds to Parkinson’s disease Research. Participating in the tournament will be local pro, Navin Kumar, who has Parkinson’s Disease yet is able to subdue some its effects as soon as he steps up to the ping pong table for a match. Due to his incredible perseverance and skill, Kumar has represented the USA in international table tennis competitions as part of the Paralympic Program. At the Beltway Plaza event he demonstrates his prowess with a powder and accepts challenges from all who dare.
Beltway Plaza continues to expand, with new tenants Fallas and 5 Below, more sponsored events such as the Greenbelt Blues Festival and National Night Out and sponsored community groups like the Greenbelt Fraternal Order of Police and Students Against Destructive Decisions. Step by step, the plaza is contributing to the community feel and helping to spread the goodwill. The mall has been around for a long time for a good reason. Plan to visit again to for your favorite stores, new exciting retail shopping, and community events. See you at Beltway Plaza soon!
Calvin Chao is an intern working with the Greenbelt Community Foundation