More than two hours. More than 30 police, fire and rescue workers. And more than enough police cars and big trucks to widen the eyes of three dozen youngsters in day care, all to investigate a suspicious package that turned out to be ... an accordion.
About 9 a.m. Friday, Howard County authorities were alerted to what appeared to be an abandoned suitcase in front of the Owen Brown Interfaith Center in Columbia, according to fire officials. The center, at 7246 Cradlerock Way, tucked behind a shopping center, is home to a day care center.
The area around the building was cordoned off with yellow police tape. Just outside the perimeter were police cars, an emergency services command truck, and fire and rescue trucks. "We send out equipment based on a worst-case scenario," said Assistant Fire Chief Joe Dixon.
The day care center temporarily relocated to a room in Giant Foods nearby. The experts went to work opening the package.
Inside: the musical instrument.
Owner: Unknown, said police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn.
"I'm sure the police took it into custody," she said.
The children, who watched "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" during what turned out to be a false alarm, were paraded back into the Interfaith Center shortly before 11:30 a.m., as the swarm of equipment and emergency personnel left.