Ship-shape harbor holiday

`Sailabration': Visiting tall ships and plenty of music and merriment mark the city's sometimes damp Fourth of July celebration.

July 05, 2004|By Tanika White | Tanika White,SUN STAFF

Despite a day darkened by clouds and dampened by rain, thousands of people, many dressed in red, white and blue, thronged the Inner Harbor yesterday for the city's Fourth of July Sailabration, which brought tall-masted ships from across the globe to the Baltimore Harbor.

In celebration of the 150th year of Baltimore's Constellation - the Navy's last all-sail warship and the last Civil War-era naval vessel still afloat - ships from Nova Scotia, Romania, Uruguay and other foreign countries docked in the Inner Harbor and opened their decks to visitors.

"It's tremendous," said Fred Eckerts, the patriarch of the Eckerts family of Woodstock and Mount Airy, which had just finished touring the Cisne Branco, a 257-foot square-rigged training vessel, whose name means "white swan" in Portuguese. "They should be in port more often."

Eckerts' sentiments were echoed yesterday by many harbor-goers who said the tall, handsome ships gave Baltimore's premier tourist attraction a regal air.

Sean Forrester of Pasadena couldn't wait to bring his two children to see the small fleet.

"I just remember being a small child in '76, back when they had a few here for the bicentennial," he said. "The harbor was full of them. It was beautiful."

Scores of people waited in long lines to tour the tall ships, in particular the Mircea of Romania, which was built in 1939 and was one of the oldest on display.

In addition to the tall ships - which will begin sailing out of the harbor at 7 a.m. today - visitors were able to go on walking tours of the harbor or bus tours of the city. They could stroll the shops inside Harborplace when it rained, or listen to live music outside when the rain held off.

The St. Veronica's Youth Steel Orchestra jammed Caribbean-style on steel drums and other percussion instruments for a dancing, clapping audience. It was the group's third year performing as part of the Inner Harbor's Independence Day celebration.

Although the form of music originated in Trinidad and Tobago, said director Anthony McFarlane, the youth orchestra's music is very patriotic.

"We live here, and we pay homage to the U.S.," McFarlane said. "We want to celebrate with them their independence. Because even though we're from the Caribbean, we are brothers and sisters with the people here."

As early as midmorning, many were making their way to stake out a spot on Federal Hill, which offers a view of fireworks in the night sky.

Suzanne Rosman, an event volunteer, urged the Petraites family from Germantown to find a home on the hill as early as possible, warning that more than 100,000 people visit the Inner Harbor every year for the fireworks show.

"So it'll be crowded, then?" Bob Petraites asked.

"That's not the word," Rosman told him. "You'll be a sardine, a living sardine tonight."

The family, which had never been to the harbor for the Fourth of July, took the idea of being crammed next to so many other visitors in stride.

"Well, what time do they start sardining?" Bob Petraites asked.

The pyrotechnic show started at about 9:30 p.m., as planned, with dozens of vehicles lining the outside lanes of the Jones Falls Expressway so that the people inside could get a better view.

The red, white and blue theme turned up in many places yesterday, on hats, pins, T-shirts and flip-flops. Families sauntered around looking as if they had Betsy Ross as a personal shopper.

One 3-year-old, Kamri Sabathe, had her tiny right arm held in place by a red, white and blue-striped cast, which she and her mother, Rebecca Sabathe, had decorated with red stick-on stars.

The Sabathes traveled from Haddon Heights, N.J., near Philadelphia, for yesterday's Inner Harbor activities after Kamri broke her arm attempting a cartwheel.

"You can't go to the beach with a cast," said her father, Dan Sabathe.

Independence Day closings

This schedule will be in effect for the Independence Day holiday observed today, July 5:

Anne Arundel County

County offices: closed

Courts: closed

Libraries: closed

Trash: no trash pickup

Annapolis

City offices: closed

Courts: closed

Parking meters: feed

Trash: no trash pickup

Baltimore

City offices: closed

Courts: closed

Libraries: closed

Parking meters: do not feed

Trash: no trash pickup

Baltimore County

County offices: closed

Courts: closed

Libraries: closed

Parking meters: do not feed

Trash: no trash pickup

Carroll County

County offices: closed

Courts: closed

Libraries: closed

Senior centers: closed

Trash: ask contractor

Landfill: closed

Frederick County

County offices: closed

Courts: closed

Libraries: closed

Trash: ask contractor

Harford County

County offices: closed

Courts: closed

Libraries: closed

Trash: ask contractor

Howard County

County offices: closed

Courts: closed

Libraries: closed

Parking meters: feed

Trash: no trash pickup; landfill and recycling center closed.

Other services, attractions

Banks, S&Ls: closed

Federal offices: closed

Federal courts: closed

Post office: closed; delivery of mail is limited to Express Mail.

State offices: closed

MVA offices: closed

VEIP stations: closed

MTA buses: Sunday service

MTA commuter buses: No service. Check the MTA Web site, www.mtamaryland.com, for information on a route, or call 410-539-5000.

Subway (Metro): Sunday service

Light rail: Sunday service

MARC: No service

Mobility: Holiday service

MTA Information services: closed

Certification office: closed

MTA Transit Store: closed

The Baltimore Museum of Art: closed

Walters Art Museum: closed

Port Discovery: Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

National Aquarium: Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Science Center: Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Zoo: Open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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