Kevin Ryan, 9, knew Tuesday wouldn't be a typical day when police sirens went off near his school, St. Joan of Arc in Aberdeen.
He thought there was an emergency, but it turned out he was getting a personal escort to City Hall, where he would spend a few busy hours as Aberdeen's first Mayor for the Day.
Kevin, who is in fourth grade, knew what running the city was really about.
"I wanted to be mayor for the day so I could boss people around," he said with a smile.
He didn't get to do too much bossing, but he did get a whirlwind tour of city landmarks, a bag full of goodies (including a personalized jersey from Ripken Stadium) and some new experiences.
Besides the stint as mayor, Kevin won $100 for his winning essay on the topic of "If I Were Mayor, I Would..." The contest targets fourth-grade students around Maryland.
"If I were mayor, I would open a homeless shelter," Kevin wrote. "Sometimes when I am on my way to school, I will look out into the woods and see the homeless living in tents. When I go to the park, I will see homeless people sitting on the park benches. It is important to me because I don't like to see people living like that. I would want to help them out and get them back on their feet."
Kevin's tour included Harford Family House, where he presented a proclamation making it Harford Family House Day in the city. He also visited the city's water treatment plant and the police and public works departments.
His favorite part, though, was seeing the club level at Ripken Stadium, getting to throw a pitch and making an announcement over the speakers.
Asked if he learned anything surprising about the mayor, Kevin said: "I didn't know he got a lot of certificates."
(Mayor Mike Bennett noted most of the certificates in his office pre-dated his role as mayor.)
During a final question-and-answer with Bennett, Kevin asked how long it took to build the city and what construction workers put in the City Hall building.
Bennett, for his part, said it was important to expose elementary school children specifically to the workings of government.
He said he went to a patriotic play that Kevin was in, and "I think there is going to be a resurgence with the kids participating in this contest."
Kevin said he is open to the possibility of being mayor some day.
"I think it would be a fun job," he said.
When asked what he would like to change in the city, however, Kevin seemed pretty satisfied.
"I think the city's good how it is," he said, but, after being prodded on the answer by a photographer, Kevin gave a more mayoral response: "Why? You got a complaint?"