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Wild scene in North Harford Wednesday night for Ravens players' visit

Baltimore Ravens fans packed the lot of Penn-Mar Plaza in the Northern Harford County community of Whiteford Wednesday night in anticipation of meeting Super Bowl champion Ravens players Arthur and Jacoby Jones.

Defensive end Arthur Jones - who is not related to Jacoby - was first to arrive at Buon Gusto Pizzeria & Grill to sign autographs for the 7 p.m. scheduled event.

A line stretched out the door of the restaurant and into the parking lot of the small shopping center.

Jacoby Jones, the wide receiver who made a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the Super Bowl – and has landed on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated – came from an earlier appearance in White Marsh and arrived about 8:30 p.m.

"He is awesome," said Churchville resident Kim Gentry, who came to Whiteford with her husband Jeff. "We love Jacoby."

Most of those who gathered inside and outside Buon Gusto's restaurant, at the corner of Routes 136 and 165, are young people. The event is being held to benefit the North Harford Recreation Council's Xtreme Cheer and Dance Team.

Tickets to meet the players and get items autographed were being sold for $50 each, and organizers said hundreds had already been sold by Tuesday.

At 10 p.m., a large crowd remained outside Buon Gusto Pizzeria & Grill, as eager autograph seekers braved temperatures in the 30s to see the two players.

Caterina Mannino, who owns Buon Gusto with her husband, Lorenzo, expected the signing to last for another hour, since the players had promised to give an autograph to every ticket holder.

"I think it's gone amazingly," Mannino said. "People have been patient; they know it's going to be a wait."

She thanked the Harford County sheriff's deputies who provided crowd control, as well as the many community partners who provided logistical support with parking, and the players.

"They have been amazingly nice and courteous and patient," she said of the Joneses.

Whiteford, which is near the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania, was a boyhood home of Maryland Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps.

Check back with www.exploreharford.com for updates.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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