Organizers unveil plans for Preakness festival

Concert, races will be among week's events

April 22, 1999|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

Fliers will hurl bean-bags at a target during a hot-air balloon race. A parade will march through the center of Baltimore, country music bands will play, sailboats will race and the Inner Harbor will come alive with parties.

And don't forget the horse race.

Organizers of the annual Preakness Stakes at Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course announced plans yesterday for a weeklong festival May 7-15 leading up to the famed race.

"For 124 years, the state of Maryland has had the honor of hosting the Preakness, the middle jewel in horse racing's famed Triple Crown series," said David S. Iannucci, deputy secretary of the state Department of Business and Economic Development, at a news conference.

The race and parties are expected to create $50 million worth of business for the state, Iannucci said.

As dozens of corporate sponsors nibbled coffeecake at the Pimlico clubhouse and gazed out the huge windows at horses on the track, Terry Romanoli, executive director of Preakness Celebration Inc., detailed the celebration plans.

The events include:

Block parties on Water Street near Baltimore's Inner Harbor at 5 p.m. May 7 and May 11-14.

A hot-air balloon race and midair bean-bag throwing competition at Baltimore's Druid Hill Park at 7 a.m. May 8.

A 5-kilometer race at 9 a.m. May 8 starting at Rash Field on the Inner Harbor.

A country music concert featuring Tracy Byrd and Wade Hayes at Oregon Ridge Park north of the city at noon May 8.

A parade, led by grand marshal Woody of the R&B group Dru Hill, starting at Charles and Pratt streets in downtown Baltimore at 11 a.m. May 8.

A tall-ship sailing race, featuring the Lady Maryland, Clipper City and other ships, from the Inner Harbor to Fort McHenry and back at 3 p.m. May 13.

The 124th Preakness Stakes, which offers a $1 million prize to the owner of the winning thoroughbred, starting at 10: 45 a.m. May 15 at Pimlico Race Course on Northern Parkway in the city.

"We are trying to instill a sense of community pride that the Preakness is right in our back yard," Romanoli said.

Pub Date: 4/22/99

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