The city threw an unabashedly promotional party yesterday, turning on music and the arts at multiple sites downtown, attracting numerous visitors who might not otherwise have come.
The Downtown Partnership, a consortium of downtown businesses, planned the weekend's activities as a civic open house to market Baltimore -- not to tourists, but to Baltimoreans.
Laurie Schwartz, Downtown Partnership president, said the events were designed "to bring Baltimoreans back downtown. We want to remind Baltimoreans of all the wonderful things that are happening."
Yesterday featured events as varied as dancing in the street at NationsBank Plaza (which used to be called The Brokerage) on Market Place, a fashion show at Lexington Mall, jugglers and music at Harborplace.
Lighted hot-air balloons were on the agenda for last night at Rash Field, at the southern end of the Inner Harbor.
Today, there will be swing dancing at Hopkins Plaza, dancing with the Rhumba Club at Broadway Square, music at the Washington Monument and an antique auction from noon to 5 p.m. on Howard Street's Antique Row.
At Harborplace yesterday, visitors who haven't forgotten the winter were out to enjoy the sun. They pushed strollers, ate ice cream, walked dogs, took photographs.
Outside the Gallery, at Pratt and Calvert streets, Timothy McCardell, a Downtown Partnership public safety guide, was handing out brochures listing all the events planned for the weekend.
Knots of people sat on the bleachers at Rash Field, as country music blared from speakers.
Many people were there for the line-dancing instructions. Others were just soaking up atmosphere.
"I think this is great," said Ron Beach, who lives in North Baltimore. "This is an ideal location to have this kind of thing. Not enough people from the counties come to patronize Baltimore. I think some of them are scared, and others just don't know what the city has to offer."
Theresa Skepton drove in from Baltimore County, but only because she loves country line-dancing and because her friend Marsha Vitow promised to arrange parking near her South Baltimore home.
"I wish I could come in more, but I don't like to look for parking," said Ms. Skepton, who grew up in upper Fells Point. "I remember when I could just come in town and pull into a parking space."