Harborplace Easter ritual a quiet hit

April 08, 1996|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

Neither a cold afternoon wind nor memories of last year's unruly crowd threw a damper on one of Baltimore's Easter rituals -- a leisurely Sunday afternoon of food and music at the Inner Harbor.

Yesterday, thousands of people flocked to the downtown showplace to eat ice cream, tap their feet to jazz music and people-watch. Youths strutted and preened and admired each other's garb. Other people took pictures of the nearby office towers and each other.

Eyeing the crowd's every move were clusters of police officers stationed throughout the harbor area. Their mission was to prevent a repeat of last year's incident in which youths caused a small panic after charging through the crowd.

The police "think we are going to tear the place down," said East Baltimore resident Tasha Daniels, 18, who has come to the Inner Harbor on Easter for three consecutive years. "But nothing has happened."

Last year's incident resulted in no arrests, crime or damage except for a flowerpot that was turned over in front of Phillips Harborplace Restaurant.

But for the past three years, some people have expressed discomfort because of the large crowd of youths that converged at the harbor.

"I have to admit I thought twice about coming down here again after last year, but these are generally good kids and I think they have been getting a bad rap," said Sandy K. Sandusky of Carney.

Hoping to allay fears that Easter at the Inner Harbor had become unsafe, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke last week announced that security would be tightened.

A police spokesman said about 100 officers were at the Inner Harbor; last year there were 29.

Merchants at the Inner Harbor said business was good yesterday. "The day was phenomenal," said Michael Gaines Sr., general manager of Harborplace & the Gallery.

DaLisa Jones and her friend Shantel Jones -- both 17 and dressed alike in black boots, leather skirts and leather jackets -- walked up and down the Inner Harbor promenade for hours yesterday.

"This is where you come to be seen, not to fight and get in trouble," Ms. Jones said.

Pub Date: 4/08/96

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