Lights, Camera, Action!

While you’re watching the Kentucky Derby this weekend, look for one of our very own Bay Ridgers behind the camera: Ken Woo. You’ll see him in his signature baseball cap, black shirt and blue jeans.

Tuned in

Ken behind the Camera

There’s nothing more exhilarating to Ken Woo than capturing extreme athletes and accomplished artists on camera as they go down in history. As a director of photography, Ken has been filming live and pre-recorded events for television for over 30 years. He grew up in front of the TV in the 50s, he says, and was captivated at an early age. “My dad was a camera bug, so I inherited that from him,” he adds.

Originally from Georgia, he landed his first job as a cameraman at a TV station in North Carolina. Eventually, he moved to California to work. Before going independent, Ken worked for NBC, CBS, ESPN, HBO, Showtime and other independent production clients. Among the many events he has covered are 13 Olympics games—both winter and summer, 22 Master’s golfing tournaments, the Triple Crown, the Tour de France, March Madness, and more.


The best of plans…

Go out the window when Ken is shooting live on location. Take the Kentucky Derby.  According to Ken, live events like these are timed down to the second, and everything is choreographed in 15 second increments. And the Kentucky Derby is only one 1 ½ minute race of 10 races filmed on that day. So he spends a lot of time in camera meetings figuring out how to coordinate everything, working with engineers to draw up the plans for all 10 races and the day’s accompanying events.

“The engineers document camera positions, every single electrical outlet, video outlet, electrical sources, and where all the technicians are located,” he explains. “Basically, it’s a floor plan to help us visualize how we’re going to move. It takes real choreography to have the cameras in the right positions. But we have to be flexible, as stories change. Something else comes up that’s important to capture, or there’s an accident. So the plan we start with at the beginning of a show always goes out the window.”

From the Triple Crown to the Tour de France


“Live shows are very difficult, physical, long days,” says Ken. Especially the Tour de France. Ken covered the 26-day long bike race on a motorcycle, perched behind a specially-trained driver who is skilled at navigating a windy, mountainous course through the French Alps in the heat, rain, and snow amidst any number of sudden crashes.

“I’m right in the field of play with the bikers,” he says. “The motorcycle drivers are licensed to drive the tour. They’ve got to be skilled, because of the terrain and with me climbing around like a monkey on the back. It’s really a dangerous job, when I stop to think about it, which, luckily, I don’t get too much time to do.”

Hot, hot, hot in Hawaii

In fact, “unbelievably brutal” is how Ken describes working on site at Iron Man in Hawaii. These are “really intense” days, where he’s up at 3 a.m. and on the back of a motorcycle or in a wet suit, under the blistering sun beating down on black lava fields, filming racers as they run, swim and bike in the 120 degree heat. Then it’s on to filming human interest stories at night before calling it a day around midnight.

And the Grammy goes to…


So Ken is now working more on the feature stories surrounding these events, which he prefers because they’re more artistic. Ken won a Grammy for his work on the We Are the World video. Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie, the song and video were recorded in 1985 to fight famine.

“I can’t think of a more notable thing I worked on in my career,” says Ken. “I’ll never see an occasion like that again in my lifetime—that many hall of fame artists in one location for a great cause. I’ve done a lot of music events, but this was truly a special experience for me.

The tough part was keeping quiet about it for the two weeks before the program aired on TV. “I had the sweatshirt on when I was boarding a flight to Europe a few days later, and I wasn’t allowed to say what it was all about.”

Ken’s camera work has also earned him 23 Emmys—16 as director of photography in the sports and prime time categories, three for best feature as producer and four for Olympic production. That’s quite an Olympic feat!

Back in Bay Ridge

One of the things he loves best about his work is coming home to Bay Ridge. While exhilarating, his career can be exhausting, too. 14-hour physically demanding days take their toll, which is why Ken always looks forward to returning to Bay Ridge to recharge.

“No matter how wiped out I am coming home from the airport from a job, I get to the gates of Bay Ridge, and I let it all go,” he sighs. “I’ve traveled so much, and I know there aren’t many neighborhoods like this out there anymore. I didn’t know much about Bay Ridge till we moved here, but then we found out what a wonderful community it is. It’s so peaceful and relaxing. We’ve made some nice friends. And our grandkids love the Fourth of July. It’s so Norman Rockwell. We’re so lucky to live in such a great community.”

We want to hear from YOU!

Now that we have a website we can update often, we’d like to keep it fresh with all kinds of news about what’s going on in our neighborhood. Including news about you!

Have some news you want to share or know someone who does?

Let us know

–Michelle Ervin



Bay Ridge Resident Profile: Ed Santelmann


by Sydney Petty

Friendly, charming and funny, and seemingly eternally young and energetic, Ed Santelmann is a beloved familiar face to all on Hull Ave. and to many in Bay Ridge, because, like so many Bay Ridge residents, he is an avid outdoorsman.  Over the years, he’s  enjoyed plying local waters by motor and sailboat, until seven or eight years ago or so, when he also became interested in kayaking.

“I always wanted to,” he says, “but just never did.  So I took a class on kayaking over in Easton, and it’s been a love affair ever since.”

An Active Life

Ed travels up and down the Eastern seaboard every year to different kayaking destinations in Florida, South Carolina, Quebec, Vermont and the Adirondacks, where he meets up with other kayakers who share his passion for exploring American waterways with the light, swift crafts. 

At home, he also volunteers as kayak support in various triathlons and long-distance swims at Centennial Lake in Columbia and in the Chester and Sassafras Rivers over on the Eastern Shore.  “Kayak support involves safety support for swimmers – they can hold onto your boat if they get tired or you can call for a back-up power boat in case of an emergency.”

Eight times last summer, Ed answered the call for kayak support at these events.  “That’s eight tee shirts!” he grins boyishly, displaying the fun, disarming humor  that has so endeared him to the members of the community.

Ed  is also proud of his sailboat – a Morgan 24.  He bought it in 1970, but it was built in 1967.  “That’s when they built the best fiberglass boats,” he says.  “Forty four years later, I’ve never had a problem with blistering.”

Many days, Ed can be seen working around his yard, where he indulges in another Bay Ridge passion – gardening.  He grows tomatoes and peppers, and maintains hedges, flowers, trees and lawn with a seemingly effortless aplomb.

Ed has other interests as well.  He volunteers as a patient driver in the American Cancer Society’s “Road to Recovery” program, transporting cancer patients to doctor appointments.  “It’s a way to do something direct for people, rather than just donate money,” he says.

An Artist by Career and Avocation

But first and foremost, Ed is an artist, educated at the Corcoran School of Art in D.C. and the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida.  His career included a stint as a Signal Corps photographer in the army, then airbrushing  photographs  of military equipment for technical manuals,  and finally  producing technical animation for  the National Air and Space Museum and for the Department of Defense.

After he retired in 1999, Ed became interested in Bay boat modeling.  “My son Neil asked me what I wanted for Christmas,  and I told him the model for a Buzzards Bay Boy’s Boat – a sailing dingy.  That’s when I got back into modeling, which I  loved as a kid.”

That in turn led to his joining the St. Michaels Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum Model Guild, where Ed and his fellow guild members build boat kit models in the store for display, maintain models at the museum, and teach classes on half-hull boat model building.  To date, he’s built a dozen gorgeous half-hull models and is now concentrating on building equally beautiful and elegant wood and glass display cases for models.

Love and Family 

How many Bay Ridge residents were introduced to our community by their sweethearts? Ed came here with his girlfriend and soon to be wife Nancy in 1956 to visit her mother, who owned a house on East Lake Drive.  Ed and Nancy eventually bought that house and set about raising their son and daughter, Neil and Gay.  The kids enjoyed a happy Bay Ridge childhood playing with neighborhood kids Taylor Atkins, Phil Grubbs, Chew Owens, Charlie Deale and many others. Bay Ridge writer Deacon Ritterbush of  A Beachcomber’s Odyssey fame served as a sometime babysitter. 

 Sadly, Nancy died in 1974 when Neil and Gay were just teenagers.  But Ed met lovely Carol, and the two settled into their house on Hull Ave., where they lived happily for many years until Carol died several years ago. 

Ed misses his dear Carol, but he has adjusted quite graciously to a single lifestyle.  He seems content now, maintaining  his relationships with his children,  grandkids and friends  and pursuing his many passions.  And  during his many comings and goings, Ed never loses an opportunity to delight  a Bay Ridge neighbor  with his friendly smile, affable wit, and his ever ready laugh.



Bay Ridge Resident Profile: Mary Ann Wilson

Mary Ann in her yard with Laddie.
Mary Ann in her yard with Laddie

by Sydney Petty

A Well-Traveled Life

Bay Ridgers who treasure our annual Fourth of July parade will be interested to learn that Mary Ann Wilson of Decatur Ave., along with her friend, former Bay Ridger Teddy Mayberry, fronted the very first Bay Ridge Fourth of July community parade in their baby carriages in 1928, when they were just weeks old.   It was an auspicious beginning to a life that would take her to many different countries, but always back to Bay Ridge.

Mary Ann Hollander met her husband Joe Wilson in Paris in 1950, where they both worked in the American Embassy. When they married she had to quit her job because, “In those days, married women were not allowed to work in the State Department.”

Joe was a commercial attaché with the State Department – the “go-to” guy for American businessmen who wanted to do business in the countries where Joe and Mary Ann were stationed, including Finland, Panama, and Greece.

Mary Ann’s job was to find a house in each foreign country they were stationed in, set up housekeeping, and entertain their many visitors.

Calcutta Days

Son Jim was born in 1959 when they were home for a couple of years. “Then the three of us moved to Calcutta for three years,” says Mary Ann.  “If you can live through the first two weeks in Calcutta, you might be all right. It was extremely crowded and scary – the poverty is unbelievable – but it was there that I also met the richest people I have ever met.  It is one of the most fascinating places.”

Fascinating also, because she got to know Mother Theresa there.  “She was tiny!” says Mary Ann. “She ran a well-baby clinic in our neighborhood for people who couldn’t afford a doctor.  She would have worked 24 hours a day if she could have.”

After Calcutta, the family spent five years in Sydney, Australia, and three years in Wellington, New Zealand, always returning to Bay Ridge when they came back to the States.  They built their house here in 1965, and then it was back to Sydney for a few years.

Memories of Old Bay Ridge

Bay Ridge finally became Mary Ann and Joe’s permanent residence upon his retirement in 1977.  “We were happiest here,” she says, “It was a good place to come home to.” Joe died about 20 years ago, but he instilled some wanderlust in their son Jim, who has just returned from a four-year sail around the world with his wife Heather and two sons – they sailed from the Caribbean around the world through the Panama Canal to the Pacific, stayed in New Zealand for a year, came back through the Indian Ocean, then rounded South Africa to the Atlantic.

An animal lover, Mary Ann’s memories of Bay Ridge include the first black squirrel she ever saw here.  “When we came back from Wellington in 1977, I was playing bridge on East Lake Drive,  saw it out the window  and said, ‘what is that?’ I was absolutely fascinated.”

From her childhood she recalls, “There were lots of quail, but I haven’t seen any since I’ve been back.  I haven’t seen or smelled a skunk – we used to have a lot of skunks, but no deer.  We had a lot more rabbits then, and we didn’t have foxes like we do now.”

The beach on River Drive was “so big we had a baseball diamond out there – it was out past where the jetties are now.”

She recalls a time when two communities were connected, “We could walk across the inlet to Annapolis Roads, and the water didn’t get past our knees.”

A storm in the 30’s was so forceful it blew pine trees down along Clark Path.  “The water was so high it washed out River Road, and, from my father’s steps at 52 River Drive, you could dive into the water.”

She and her family enjoyed  the Bay Ridge pastimes – crabbing, fishing, sailing.  “Mother had a sailboat built for us, and it was supposed to be impossible to capsize, but I had no trouble at all capsizing it.”

She has known all of the original Bay Ridge families, many of which still reside here (because who would want to leave?).  Their familiar names include  Collins, Ervin, Josey, Auth, Stellabotte, and Bussink.   “Be  careful who you’re talking about,” she cautions newcomers, “ because you might be talking to their relative.”

Golden Days

Mary Ann is the proud owner of “Laddie” – her calm and collected Cairn Terrier, who is ever by her side.  She likes nothing better than to sit out on her porch and look down into her woods where she keeps track of the comings and goings of various fox, deer, and vultures.  “I had black vultures out here one year that were really pretty – they were white underneath,” she recalls.

She lives across the street from her brother and his wife, Stanley and Ronnie Hollander, who live in the house that her parents built.  Stanley was president of the civic association for many years and put in many hours of work for the community, as did Mary Ann.

Now, she is content.  “I’ve had a wonderful life – there was not a place we were in the world that we didn’t enjoy at the time that we lived there.   But you’ve got to have a place to call home! And this was it.”