Ravens fans paint the block purple

South Baltimore residents decorate street to show support

September 08, 2001|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

It used to make Baltimore sports fans happy that city fire hydrants were Orioles orange.

But then the Ravens became world champs - and purple became the color of choice.

So it was no surprise when a fire hydrant in South Baltimore turned screaming purple this week, followed by a neighboring phone booth and newspaper box.

Next came 10 signposts on the same block, then doors, stoops, windows and flower boxes.

Soon, the 100 block of Randall St. - the distance of a Hail Mary pass from PSINet Stadium - had been slathered with six gallons of "Purple Royal" paint in the name of the Ravens and in preparation for the much-anticipated season opener tomorrow for the 2001 Super Bowl champions.

"All we're doing is improving the neighborhood in purple," said Raymond "Boh" Tyson, a retired firefighter who has a gleaming purple door on his house and a bench of the same color on his sidewalk.

Though technically it's vandalism to paint the city's signposts and fire hydrant purple, Mayor Martin O'Malley's office says it's all in good fun and no penalty flags are expected. "It's in the spirit of Ravenmania and the defending Super Bowl champion team," said Tony White, the mayor's spokesman. "It's not doing any harm."

Still, no one on the corner of Randall and Clarkson streets would confess to painting the city property.

Tyson, whose nickname stems from National Bohemian, or "Natty Boh" beer, explained the purple explosion:

"We're the fan club, and we're right around the corner from the stadium," Tyson said. "We do everything in purple."

Tyson is president of the Ravens Roost No. 54 charity organization, which is throwing a block party today, expecting about 200 fans on the corner of Randall and Clarkson streets. Their rally follows one yesterday at the Inner Harbor, where a rush of fans showed up to cheer on Ravens players.

Although neighbors say the community's purple-fication is for the block party and the Ravens, the paint is also serving another purpose.

"Everything used to look rusted and old," said Ronald Stevens, 18, who lives in the neighborhood. "It shocked me when I came around here." Stevens watched neighborhood artist Tim Kelly paint a "WORLD CHAMPS" mural on a boarded-up window. "It's easy to improve this block," Kelly said. "And the rest of South Baltimore."

June Doelle, 80, is doing her part by making Ravens curtains for Schaefer's, a bar that serves as headquarters of the Ravens Roost fan club.

Asked if she's a fan of the team, Doelle looked at her watch and repeated something she saw on TV.

"What time is it? Game time? Are the dogs in the house?"

Then, she pointed to her left leg, which is broken and wrapped in a purple cast with a Ravens logo.

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