Parents to pull kids from school, businesses to close for parade

City officials release details of free parade open to public

(Nick Tann/The Baltimore…)
February 04, 2013|By Julie Scharper and Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun

Dizzy with the thrill of a Super Bowl victory — and late-night revelry — Ravens fans spent Monday stocking up on purple gear and planning to close offices and pull children out of school for Tuesday's victory parade.

Women heaped on purple rings and bracelets, couples slapped purple paint onto the family car and parents dragged children into school a few hours late, explaining they had stayed up late for the Super Bowl.

From time to time, Marylanders marveled at the news that, for many, felt like a dream come true: After 12 years, the Ravens were again world champions. On Tuesday morning, the Ravens will travel through downtown streets in the city's first major victory parade since the team won the Super Bowl in 2001, when 200,000 gathered to celebrate.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Courtney Creamer of Stoneleigh. "Especially this year, it's just magical."

Customers bustled Monday into With Gratitude, the York Road gift shop Creamer owns, to pick up Ravens shirts, flags, headbands and even wine glasses emblazoned with the team's logo.

Creamer plans to close the shop Tuesday and head to the parade, which kicks off in front of City Hall at 10:45 a.m., with her three children and other neighborhood families. The group will squeeze into a black van — decorated with purple flags and banners for the occasion — to go downtown for the festivities.

The parade will travel south from City Hall on Commerce Street, then wind along Pratt and Howard streets before ending at M&T Bank Stadium, said city officials, who warned that numerous streets would close and more than a dozen bus lines would be diverted. The parade will culminate in a celebration at the stadium about 12:30 p.m., featuring celebrity entertainers, and, of course, the team.

"It's Ravens players, the Ravens band, Ravens cheerleaders, Ravens coaches and the Ravens mascot," said Tracy Baskerville, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts. "And confetti. Of course, you can't have any event without confetti."

Admission to the stadium, which will open at 10 a.m., is free. Fans may also park for free in the stadium lots, which will open at 9 a.m.

In 2001, people packed the roofs of downtown office buildings despite a cold rain to watch the champions parade in 73 Humvees through downtown streets. Tuesday's forecast calls for mostly cloudy skies with a high of 41.

Baskerville said the city is setting up bicycle racks as barriers along the route, so that fans can watch the players before they enter the stadium. She said the start of the parade at City Hall would make a great place for a quick stop for busy workers who need to get back to the office.

Kirby Fowler, president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore Inc., said he believed many downtown businesses would close for the parade. The celebration is likely to cause traffic to grind to a halt, as many downtown streets are closed.

"It ought to be a national holiday," said Fowler.

Endodontist Tim Skane, 37, is closing his office, Harbor Endodontics, for the day because of the parade.

"We are very excited about the Ravens, but I almost don't have a choice," he said. "We're at the corner of Charles and Lombard. Everything around us is going to be shut down."

Like many area parents, Skane is pulling his 4-year-old daughter, Stella, out of preschool for the event.

"We very highly value education, but there's certain events in life that have a certain importance and this is one of them," he said. "To be able to support the city and the team, it's incredible."

Michael Evitts, spokesman for the Downtown Partnership, said his organization is granting its employees leave to attend the parade.

"Our feeling is it's better to acknowledge what's going to happen than force them to call in sick," he said. "Even if they're at the office tomorrow, they're not concentrating. Nothing unites this town across all demographics like the Ravens."

Evitts said he expected the parade to draw thousands of fans. "This is going to be even bigger than last week," he said of the Ravens rally before the team left for the Super Bowl in New Orleans. "This is a moment of civic significance. This is a moment of cultural significance."

Many parents said they felt it was worth it for children to miss a day of classes for a celebration they would likely never forget.

Sara Waire of Stoneleigh said she told her daughter's kindergarten teacher Monday that she wouldn't be coming to school Tuesday.

"Our plan is to trek down there as a family," said Waire. Her husband, John Waire, is a photographer who plans to document the event; daughter Mady, 5, and son, Liam, 3, will wear pint-sized Ravens jerseys.

Sara Waire, a native of upstate New York, said she had never gotten into football until she moved to Baltimore nine years ago.

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