What glorious occasions Easter and Passover are. The holidays are the harbingers of springtime. We know that when it's time for Easter and Passover, tulips will soon be pushing up through the ground.
Spring! Thank goodness, you're finally, finally here.
OK. Mother Nature has been known to pull a fast one or two. April snowstorms are not unheard of, and it's been a bit chilly recently. But this is a time of year when optimism reigns supreme. So, weather permitting, shed those heavy overcoats and wool scarves. It's time to come on out and enjoy the activities around town.
Baltimore is once again planning an Easter extravaganza especially geared toward the younger set.
On Saturday, the day before Easter, the Mayor's Spring Festival kicks off.
"It's the perfect event for families and for kids to come out. It puts everyone in the mood for spring," says Tracy Baskerville, a spokesman for Baltimore's Office of Promotion. "We hope everyone comes out."
The festival, sponsored by Blockbuster Video, Mary Sue Candies, Radio Zone and WNUV-TV 54, will be held at NationsBank Plaza, 34 Market Place. (It's the building formerly known as the Brokerage.)
And what's an Easter spring festival celebration without the Easter Bunny? Fortunately, we won't be able to find out. This Easter Bunny will be in attendance and have a few friends along in tow, Ms. Baskerville says.
"There will be the Easter Bunny, Captain Phil, Captain Seaweed and other mascots," Ms. Baskerville says. All those are the old favorites who have shown up before, but this year, there will be something new to delight the little ones -- a purple dinosaur.
The staff has been working for the past few months to make sure Baltimore's third annual Easter Spring Festival runs smoothly.
"We usually start planning the beginning of the year," Ms. Baskerville says. "It takes a few months, especially ordering the crafts, and several months for arranging the entertainment."
Each year, the Easter Spring Festival has gotten bigger, she says.
Everyone's hoping for good weather, but the festival will go on no matter what Mother Nature has in store. "This year, activities will be both inside and outside. If it rains, people can do things inside," she says.
Some of the indoor activities include a Mary Sue Candies chocolate coating machine, a display of artifacts by the Baltimore City Life Museums, free temporary tattoos for the kids and a Lego building area.
One of the more popular attractions returns to this festival this year -- live rabbits courtesy of the Baltimore County 4-H Rabbit Club.
"Kids can come up and touch and pet them," Ms. Baskerville says. "They are really popular every year."
Some of the outdoor activities are a beanbag toss, an obstacle course with a hay maze, darts (using soft balls and fabric fastener tape ) and coloring book giveaways by the Baltimore Bicycle Club.
Entertainment for the family will be provided by the Ebony Angels Double Dutch Team, the mascots and others.
"Kids can come and make craft things for free. And take the things they make home," Ms. Baskerville says.
Other goings on around town include Sunday's "Inner Harbor Easter Celebration," which is also put on by the city.
The Inner Harbor will come alive with Easter activities around 11 a.m. when street performers entertain. Also, the 428-foot frigate Abraham Crijnssen from the Netherlands will welcome visitors from noon to 4 p.m.
The naval ship, which has a crew of more than 140, will be docked at the Inner Harbor's west wall. Music for the day will be provided by the jazz group Moon August and by the Mystic Warriors. For more information on Saturday's and Sunday's events, call (410) 837-4636.
There are many other activities going on the area, and a good place to check with is your church or community center.
A small sampling of activities:
* The Christ Community Church in Camp Hill, Pa., is holding a 20,000-piece candy hunt. Yes, 20,000 pieces of candy.
"It's going to be exciting," says Linda Taylor from the church. "Last year we had over 500 kids who showed up. Wouldn't be surprised if more showed up this year."
The candy hunt will be held on Saturday at the church, Route 15 and Slate Hill Road in Camp Hill, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
All children are welcome to enjoy costumed characters, clowns, drama, face painting, balloons and give-aways, as well as the massive candy hunt, Ms. Taylor says. Need more information? Call (717) 761-2933.
* Back in Baltimore, The Baltimore Zoo is holding "Bunny BonanZoo" Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Children can have their photos taken with the Easter Bunny. There will be stage entertainment, costumed characters, holiday games and "Baltimore's biggest bunny hop," according to zoo spokesmen. Call the Baltimore Zoo at (410) 366-LION.