A day of faith and fashion

Residents and visitors don their finery and enjoy Easter Sunday

April 17, 2006|By NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON AND LAURA MCCANDLISH | NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON AND LAURA MCCANDLISH,SUN REPORTERS

For many, Easter Sunday started with a church service. Others enjoyed the sun and entertainment at the Inner Harbor. Volunteers gave baskets to those less fortunate. And at every turn yesterday there were crowds, some wearing their Easter best.

Those without seats when Resurrection Sunday service began at Mount Carmel Baptist Church on East 25th Street yesterday morning had to squeeze in where they could.

They sat in metal folding chairs next to packed pews, holding babies in pink dresses, pearl jewelry and patent-leather shoes.

The worshipers were a sea of color in bright red hats, pastel green gloves and baby-blue three-piece suits.

"Y'all looking like Easter this morning," said the Rev. Leroy Gilliard Jr., the church's pastor. "He has risen from the dead. We ought to celebrate Him."

By afternoon, the Inner Harbor was filling with folks, some fresh from church. They rode in dragon-shaped paddle boats, posed for pictures and munched on Italian ices and ice cream. Waiting to board a water taxi, Michele and Francis Cavoto of Harrisonburg, Va., watched ducks chase each other. Earlier in the day, the Cavotos attended a tent Easter service at the pier.

"We had a nice celebration this morning and heard some great gospel," Michele Cavoto said. "We've had a great Easter."

Caleb Boyer, 6, sped around on his scooter, dodging in and out of the crowds.

"I told him that dress shoes would be just as good as sneakers," said Jennifer Boyer of Federal Hill. "We're just out here enjoying the weather."

In addition to the sunny skies, another big draw was Rich Potter, a unicycling, joke-cracking street performer. He juggled flaming torches, pretended to swallow a knife and wowed Kirsten Annan, 21 months.

Shaded from the sun by her pink straw hat, Kirsten watched with her father, Felix Annan of Edgewood. He said that later in the day Kirsten had a date with the Easter Bunny and some goodies waiting at home.

For those not fortunate enough to have Easter treats, organizers with Happy Helpers for the Homeless were giving out goodie bags to children and adults. At least 50 volunteers, including a church confirmation class, Naval Academy midshipmen and high school students, handed out baskets to 350 people at the Fallsway and East Madison Street.

Traina Davis came with her seven kids, who pored over the candy in their Easter baskets and devoured their favorite pieces first.

Michele Perez, a midshipman who helped fill the baskets, said, "We don't see this side of the world a lot at our school.

"It's a nice way to spend Easter, just to be grateful about what you have been given and not forget the real issues going on in the world."

Earlier, at Mount Carmel, Sgt. 1st Class Darrell Williams, 49, who just returned from military service in Iraq, sat in the back, dressed in sand-colored fatigues.

"That's resurrection right there," Gilliard said from the pulpit, pointing to Williams. "Many were killed over there, but he made it back. What a time to come back home, on Easter Sunday."

"I just flew in last night," Williams said. "But I had to make it to church."

John Bowman of East Baltimore took his three children to the service. Too young to stand on his own, Jalen, 20 months, bounced in his father's arms and clapped along as the choir sang hymns. Diamond, 5, in a white dress flecked with green and pink flowers and topped with a shawl, mouthed the words to "He Rose" and tapped to the beat. Next to her was her older brother, Quante, 8, in a beige suit and striped tie.

Drawing from the New Testament, Gilliard said he had a new message for the church's young people, many of whom gathered last week to bury a teenage shooting victim. "R-I-P doesn't mean `Rest in Peace'; it means `Resurrection in Progress,'" he said. "We're going to change things in this city; we have to tell the world."

As the service came to a close, children gathered around the pulpit for a special blessing.

"Let us live like it's Resurrection Sunday every day," he said. "And now let these kids get out of here so they can show off their Easter clothes."

nia.henderson@baltsun.com laura.mccandlish@baltsun.com

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