Rain doesn't keep crowds from parade Hundreds celebrate at event for Preakness

May 10, 1998|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

Hundreds of people attended yesterday's 25th annual Preakness Celebration Parade, part of the opening festivities prior to the running of the famous horse race.

Crowds braved the rain and lined the two-mile parade route, which began at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Eutaw Street and ended at Market Place. Attendance figures were not available yesterday.

"Surprisingly enough, the crowds have been really good, despite the inclement weather," said Shelia Goodwin, coordinator of the parade.

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Michael Jackson was grand marshal and toured in a 1964 Chevrolet convertible.

"I think it went well, being as how we weren't sure how the weather was going to turn out," Jackson said.

About 100 marching units and two professional floats participated in the parade, which began shortly before 11 a.m. and ended at 1 p.m.

The nonprofit Maryland Preakness Celebration Inc. is a separate entity from the horse race around which its festivities are scheduled. The celebration, which includes a hot-air balloon festival and a five-kilometer road race, has regrouped in the past two years after 1995's celebration resulted in a $1 million shortfall.

The Preakness Celebration board blamed the problems on then-Executive Director Donna Leonard, whom they said overspent and wrote numerous checks to creditors that bounced. Leonard was later fired.

Yesterday's parade, however, gave no hint of past troubles.

Sonya Wilson brought a lawn chair and sat at the corner of Pratt and Charles streets and watched the Baltimore Go Getters, a majorette group, perform its routine.

Wilson said she and her 4-year-old daughter, Terry, didn't think twice about attending, despite the chance of rain.

"They said the weather would clear up," Wilson said. "I'm glad I came. It was fun."

Pub Date: 5/10/98

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