May Day arrived in Annapolis this year in Annapolis with a flurry of color — and a welcome absence of rain.

In the historic district and parts of Murray Hill, homes and businesses were adorned Thursday with creative arrangements to herald the day.

For the 58th year, members of the Garden Club of Old Annapolis Towne judged the entries and selected winners who will enjoy a pair of prizes: an invitation to the annual club tea, scheduled for May 5 — and bragging rights.

"It's a rain-or-shine event to beautify the city of Annapolis," said Kathe Patterson, co-chair of the event. "But I've heard, historically, that it's never rained here on May Day."

While heavy rain pounded the region the previous two days, the skies were relatively clear for Thursday's event.

"We were worried about people not coming out and participating because of all the rain, but it's looking like we have a fairly good turnout," Patterson said.

The event is an annual rite of spring — but there's true competition, too, with contestants turning out elaborate floral designs in creative vessels such as replicas of ships and carriages. Businesses are also encouraged to incorporate elements of their service in the final product.

"We look at a combination of things when we pick winners," said Debbie Boland, one of the judges. "There's the type of flowers, the treatment of them, how creative [contestants] were."

One of the winners, Tilghman Company jewelry store, stood out for its use of local flowers.

"Everything you see here came from our gardens," said employee Joan Whiteley. "It's all homegrown — picked for their look and smell."

Judges from the garden club traveled in groups along view entries and choose the winners, who received blue ribbons for their accomplishments. There is no set limit to the number of ribbons they can dole out.

Children who participated and were identified by their name cards on the baskets were awarded pink ribbons.

"We use to have rankings, but there's been so many good ones that it's hard to choose," Patterson said.

ndavis@baltsun.com