They shot pictures up and down Main street and around Church Circle.They posed in front of the bell from the USS Maryland on the State House lawn and leaning against pilings at the City Dock.
You could supply a good-sized camera store with the equipment strapped around the necks of those wandering around State Circle and down Francis Street over the last few days.
The tourists have returned to Annapolis, as certain a harbinger of summer as the watermen who tie up their wooden workboats at City Dock late in October are warnings of the winter to come.
The cold mists of early April kept the crowds to a minimum until warm sunshine broke through last Thursday and the city was jammed with tourists.
"This is the first good day we've had," said C. Edward Hartman III, owner of Annapolis Marine Tours, as he sold tickets for the Harbor Queen last Thursday. "It's like the Fourth of July. It seems like everybody has found an excuse to get out today."
Nearby, Randy and Michelle Ell, of Falls Church, and their friend, AnneMarie Loomis, took turns posing by a piling with the vessels of the Annapolis Spring Boat Show as a background.
"AnneMarie came to visit from Houston," Randy explained. "We were trying to show her the sights and Annapolis is definitely one of them. Something you ought to see if you come here."
Loomis grinned. "It's gorgeous," she said, her eyes drifting to asleek new boat sailing by.
"We were just wondering about the bars," said Randy, an apartment manager who sneaked out of the office. "They have great bars in Houston, you know."
Tourists and the money they spend in bars, restaurants, hotels and T-shirt shops are an integral part of Annapolis' economy. Tom Roskelly, city public information officer, estimates that 4.5 million visitors a year prowl the narrow streets, spending nearly $700 million.
"The bottom line is, tourism is a big business in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County," he said.
Over at the boat show, S.J. Smith and his wife, Molly, were unhappily contemplating the price tag on a 52-foot cabin cruiser.
"Ahh,he wants $350,000 for it. That's too much for that size," Smith, of Medford, N.J., groused later. "I like big, old wooden boats. That's what I'm used to."
Nearby, Al Thyrring was extolling the virtues ofa 30-foot Hacker Craft, a replica of the low-slung speed boat the company built in 1929, for a group that crowded around the pier.
"This one's got a 350 Crusader in it that'll do about 50 miles an hour. But it also will suck up a lot of gas," he said.
As the sun fell lower in the sky, the Boy Scouts of Troop 154, Pluckemin, N.J., reached the foot of Main Street and halted.
"The big gate. Let's see. Which way's the big gate?" wondered Don Colangelo, one of the adult leaders.
The troop was spending a few days seeing the sights in Baltimore and Annapolis, he explained.
"The kids are off school this week and this is kind of a nice vacation. For their parents," he said.
They toured the Naval Academy, led by one of their former troop members who now is a plebe, and wandered through the streets looking atColonial mansions and late 20th-century souvenir shops.
"But you know what the nicest thing is?" Colangelo asked, nodding toward treeswhose buds were becoming leaves and tulips that splashed reds and pinks around the base of the flag pole in Memorial Circle. "It's green here. We haven't seen that yet in New Jersey."