Living at the Royal Inn isn't easy, but it is home to as many as 100 people, including many families with young children.
The holiday spirit was out in full on Thursday, however, as Santa Claus arrived by fire truck and families enjoyed music and even a Christmas tree. Children took time to write letters to Santa, and the Chick-fil-A cow was on hand to deliver meals.
Members of the Anne Arundel County Police Department organized the event with local churches as part of ongoing efforts to improve conditions along Annapolis Road in north Odenton.
"This is a very difficult environment for a child to live in," said Lt. Steve Thomas, who helped organize the event and has gotten to know many Royal Inn residents. "Doing this kind of thing is really about letting them know we're there for them."
The Royal Inn houses several families who would otherwise be homeless. There are single moms with young children, and families with as many as seven kids. Some stay only for a short time, but others have lived at the motel for a year or more.
Occasionally, residents must deal with criminal activity in their midst. In September and October, police responded to two robberies of residents within a week.
"It is very hard living here, especially when you have children," said Julia Torrijos, who lives at the motel with her 13-year-old son, Cruz. "This does make it feel a little bit more like home. Normally, it doesn't even feel like the holidays. Having people come here and do this is really great."