A day to enjoy family, weather and the bunny

Easter: Hundreds celebrate the holiday or simply spend time with loved ones at the Inner Harbor Easter Celebration.

Regional

April 21, 2003|By David J. Kohn | David J. Kohn,SUN STAFF

Sydney Sparks was scared. The creature was more than twice her size, with enormous teeth and bug eyes. It was all too much. She hid behind her mother.

What was this monster? The Easter Bunny.

Sydney, 2, may not have understood exactly whom she was dealing with. Yesterday morning, Sydney's mother, Robin, had given her daughter an Easter egg. "She thought Santa Claus brought it," Robin Sparks said with a laugh.

Yesterday, Sydney was among the throngs of people celebrating Easter - and a perfect spring afternoon - at the Inner Harbor Easter Celebration. The event, which was sponsored by the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, Harborplace and the Gallery, featured jugglers and balloon sculptors as well as a visit by the Easter Bunny. It was an eclectic crowd: Some people came in T-shirts and flip-flops, while others showed off their Easter finery: high heels, elaborate, brightly colored hats and double-breasted suits.

The Sparkses were visiting from Queensbury, a small town in upstate New York. Robin Sparks coaches the North Country Juniors, a Queensbury volleyball club. Her team was one of more than 100 teams competing in a national girls volleyball tournament being held at the Baltimore Convention Center. With a few hours until their playoff game, she and some of her players decided to enjoy the shopping, the crowds and, perhaps most of all, the sunny weather, with temperatures in the mid-60s.

"It's finally warm. In Queensbury, we got 18 inches of snow two weeks ago," said Sparks, adding that there was still snow on the ground there. Although there was a breeze off the water, and most people around her wore long pants, she had on shorts.

Not all kids were afraid of the Easter Bunny. Most were excited to get a hug and free candy. And this year, the Easter Bunny seemed to have an older fan base than one might expect: Groups of teen-age girls - volleyball players awaiting games - regularly besieged the creature.

"The Easter Bunny is cool! We love the Easter Bunny!" said Julia Brostrom, 14, who was there with teammates from the Columbia Volleyball Club. She said she wanted to thank the bunny for her Easter basket. Among the goodies she had gotten: a camera and a CD by top-rated rapper 50 Cent.

For some, the day was about spending time with family. Bill Jacobs and 11 members of his family - parents, siblings and in-laws - took a boat ride around the harbor. "Even if you're not religious, it's a good excuse to spend time together," said Jacobs, who was visiting from Annapolis. His brother-in-law, John McDaris of Severna Park, had bought corsages for the five women of the group.

"After this winter, I think everybody's got cabin fever," Jacobs said. "It's nice to be out on a day like this."

Robert and Pauline Kerchner had come down from York, Pa. They have driven an hour and 15 minutes to celebrate Easter at the Inner Harbor almost every year for the past 15 years. The couple, who are in their 70s, had come with five family members, including two grandsons. In the warm sun, the Kerchners sat on a bench facing the water, watching the crowds stroll by.

Robert Kerchner wore a Hawaiian shirt with bright yellow and red splotches, a blindingly red sweater and matching red golf cap. Was the outfit a private ritual, a way to mark the coming of spring?

Nope.

"She likes red," he said, gesturing to his wife. "So anytime she buys something she gets me red."

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