Region set to rally today around the color purple

Fans hope to pump up the Ravens for their grudge match tomorrow against the Colts

January 12, 2007|By Laura McCandlish | Laura McCandlish,Sun Reporter

At a pep rally in Bel Air, free purple Mardi Gras beads and hot dogs will be on hand for 1,000 fervent fans. In Towson, Catholic school students will spruce up their uniforms with purple socks and ties. And in Baltimore, employees with the zaniest outfits will win prizes at 1st Mariner Bank's headquarters.

Prepare to see a violet tide wash over the region's workplaces and schools today.

Countless "Purple Friday" celebrations are cropping up across the region today -- the eve of the game that will decide whether the Baltimore Ravens' season will continue. To pump them up for their grudge match against the Indianapolis Colts, the Ravens encouraged all fans to don the color purple.

"There's a very large fan base for the Ravens in the county," Harford spokesman Thomas Foster said of the county-sponsored pep rally in Bel Air. "It's a big week for Harford County, with Cal Ripken getting into the Hall of Fame. Everyone's kind of sports-minded this week."

One expects such fanfare in Baltimore. At Mayor and Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley's prompting, many downtown businesses have covered their lights with purple gels. The ambient glow of magenta, indigo and heliotrope bathes the city at night.

"You can't go very far around the city without seeing serious Ravens support," said O'Malley's spokeswoman, Raquel Guillory.

Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson launched a parallel "Blue Friday" celebration for his city's residents. It's part of a friendly bet O'Malley and Peterson made Wednesday. If the Ravens win, Peterson sends his counterpart a steak dinner and shrimp cocktail. Should the Colts win, O'Malley will send Peterson a Maryland crab cake dinner.

In the suburbs, passion for the Ravens runs equally deep. Since the team travels to Westminster for summer training camp at McDaniel College, fans abound in Carroll County, where government workers plan to show purple pride today.

T-shirts emblazoned with logos would normally violate the dress code at Carroll County's environmental health department. But division chief Ed Singer is suspending those rules for his employees today. But only if they wear Ravens' gear. Colts or Steelers paraphernalia is strictly banned.

"My daughter says I should wear my Ravens tie," Singer said. "We're doing job interviews this week, so I don't want to dress too radically."

Singer, who lives in Manchester, said his 10-year-old daughter has begged for his one ticket to the playoff game, so far to no avail.

A Christmas tree, decked out with purple beads and pictures of Ravens players, stands in the lobby of the Harford County government building. Violet lights, pom-poms, streamers and flags hang in windows, doorways and on desks. "PURPLE REIGN" signs have sprouted all over town.

The Bel Air pep rally should bring some of the action home to folks who lack parking permits for tailgating or tickets for tomorrow's crucial game.

"This is the closest we could come to it in Harford County," Foster said.

DJ Steve Rouse will emcee the affair, replete with fight songs, prizes for the best banners and best-dressed fans and performances by local high school cheerleaders and a marching band.

Given their proximity to Washington, Howard County residents divide their loyalties between the Redskins and Ravens.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman rented spotlights to create a purple haze around government buildings in Columbia and Ellicott City. But in the spirit of diplomacy, he pledged to create the same display -- in red -- should that "other local team" ever make the playoffs during his tenure.

Purple passion will run rampant at local schools, from colleges to elementary schools. Towson University students are setting aside their black and gold school colors for the day.

Immaculate Conception School students in Towson are allowed to wear purple accessories along with school uniforms. But only tasteful ones. No gaudy nail polish, face paint, plastic beads and hats, according to Assistant Principal Madeline Meaney.

Immaculate parents plan to offer purple treats at snack time. At another Towson school -- Calvert Hall College High School -- faculty and students will sport Ravens jerseys.

Students in Baltimore public schools can ditch their school uniforms for Ravens wear.

Interim Chief Executive Officer Charlene Cooper Boston has relaxed the dress code for all school system staff and students today. Some city elementary schools are hosting pep rallies and having students write their own cheers.

No profession appears too serious to miss out on the fun. Ravens mania has spread throughout 1st Mariner Bank's 26 branch locations in the state, communications director Jen Laving said. All employees are encouraged to dress in Ravens attire for the day. The best-dressed and most creative fans will win gift certificates to buy more Ravens gear.

When the workday ends, Purple Friday celebrations will likely continue at area bars.

Bloggers Aaron Brazell and Jason Thomas are hosting a party at The Playbook sports bar in Canton. There, they will record a podcast for Brazell's sports Web site, www.suicidefan.com.

The technology has helped Brazell promote his last-minute event.

"Every day I'm hearing about more people coming out," he said. "But even if it was just me, I'd still have fun talking to patrons at the bar, because everyone's a Ravens fan this time of year."

laura.mccandlish@baltsun.com

Sun reporters Sara Neufeld, Mary Gail Hare, John Fritze, Liz Kay, Larry Carson and Laura Barnhardt contributed to this article.

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