It's no mystery who the grand marshal of this year's Mayor's Christmas Parade in Hampden will be.
It's Laura Lippman, well-known mystery writer and resident of Baltimore, where many of her novels are set.
Longtime parade organizer Tom Kerr announced Thursday that Lippman, 53, will be the titular leader of the 40th annual parade on Sunday, Dec. 2, from 1-4 p.m. The former Baltimore Sun reporter is married to writer David Simon and has won numerous awards for mystery writing, including the Edgar.
Her work includes a series of thrillers about fictional "accidental" private investigator Tess Monaghan.
Lippman grew up in Baltimore and went to city schools through ninth grade, according to her website, http://www.lauralippman.com.
"My wife reads her books and said she'd be a good one," said Kerr, a longtime Hampden resident, who is sometimes referred to as the unofficial mayor of Hampden.
Kerr said he is also hoping to convince a Baltimore Oriole player or coach to join the parade, in honor of the team's first playoff appearance in 15 years.
The parade traditionally starts at 2 p.m. each year, but is kicking off earlier this year, because the Baltimore Ravens play the Pittsburgh Steelers at 4 p.m. that day, Kerr said.
"At 4 o'clock, I'll lose everybody watching the parade," he said.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's office has accepted Kerr's invitation to join the parade, Kerr said. He also said the parade committee will choose this week who will be Miss Yuletide and Junior Miss Yuletide, an annual tradition.
Kerr said he is about $4,000 short of his $35,000 budget for this year's parade, which is funded through donations, including from the Hampden Community Council and Hampden Village Merchants Association.
The parade will have at least 20 marching units, plus the usual assortment of floats, big balloons and performers, including favorites Underdog and The Lone Ranger, Kerr said. The baseball teams of Friends and Calvert Hall schools will help hold down the giant balloons, he said.
As Kerr announced last year, this year's parade will be his last as organizer after 40 years. Kerr said no one has stepped forward yet to take over for him, but that talks with the merchants group, the community council and other organizations are expected to begin in earnest early next year.
Kerr is optimistic that his swan song will be a memorable parade.
"If everybody shows up and it's a good day, it'll be the biggest ever — and a good way to go out," he said.