The last Flower Mart?

Great party: Women's Civic League event was good while it lasted, which was 82 years.

May 15, 1999

UNLESS or until someone saves it, the Flower Mart at Mount Vernon Place, a great Baltimore public celebration of the 20th century, is no more.

At the 82nd Flower Mart held Wednesday, the flowers for sale, the crab cakes, the lemon sticks, the Dixieland music, the harmony on the streets of Baltimore were as wonderful as ever. But it was a little thinner on the ground, with fewer of all those things, than habitues remember.

"Celebrating the End of an Era," was the announced theme. It was not sad but celebratory, fittingly joyful.

The Women's Civic League put on the first Flower Mart in 1911 when Baltimore was, as some have noted, different from today. There have been a few interruptions before, which is how adding 11 to 82 gets you 99. Not an inappropriate year to be the last.

The Women's Civic League itself is getting smaller and older. Recruitment of younger women is not its forte. It has done wonderful things for Baltimore. So have the many garden clubs that man (rather, woman) the Flower Mart booths. But their time for doing this is past. It may have gone out with one-worker families. So they say, and they ought to know.

Many civic leaders, most of them male, urge, cajole and demand that this great annual institution proclaiming the civic society of Baltimore be continued. Indeed, its passing would be a great civic loss.

The question the cajolers must ponder is this: If someone else took it over, could it still be the Flower Mart? Probably not. So unless you are volunteering to do the job, cut out the cajoling. It's their party, and they say it's probably over.

Pub Date: 5/15/99

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