Parades electrify residents still surviving without power

As 400 people gathered at the Roland Park Library for the annual Independence Day parade Wednesday morning, a Baltimore Gas & Electric crew was hard at work in an alley alongside the library - restoring power to homes that lost it in Friday's storm.

"We've been working so long, I forget it was the Fourth of July," said BGE worker Devin Hodge.

Hodge and co-worker Alex Fleishman said they've been from Carroll County to Chesapeake Beach, as 90,000 people faced their fifth day without power.

"We've got to get them up and running," Fleishman said. "So we're not going home."

The parades in Roland Park and Mount Washington on the Fourth were as much a respite as a celebration for residents who were still without power.

"People survived for centuries without electricity," Robert Embry said stoically. The Abell Foundation president lives in Poplar Hill near Roland Park and has no power.

Also without power was Roland Park resident David Tufaro, a developer and former Republican mayoral candidate.

He said his wife is at the beach and he's been making due at home, syncing his daily life to daylight hours and eating out a lot - Tuesday night at the bar of La Famiglia, a restaurant in Tuscany-Canterbury.

"I'm happy to be here," Tufaro said at the parade. "I think it's much more festive this year. People are out of power, so they're out talking."

Many Roland Park residents had only recently gotten power back.

Nancy Strahan said she still had live wires and fallen trees across her back lawn.

But a weekend without power in a heat wave didn't stop her and others from turning out for the parade.

Clementine Quaerna, 6, rode a tricycle in the parade that once belonged to her grandfather, Bill Gust.

"She thinks it's cool and patriotic and historic," said her grandmother, Katharine Blakeslee.

Orthopedic surgeon Spiro Antoniades and his family carried a large, unfolded flag that they bought just for the parade. It took eight people, including their three young sons, to carry and then fold it properly.

"We need a tradition to celebrate the Fourth, for the kids to remember," Antoniades said.

"After what you have been through in the past three to four days, you've still been able to come together to celebrate," Baltimore City Councilwoman Sharon Greene Middleton told the crowd before the parade.

The Spirit of Mount Washington Independence Day Parade almost didn't happen, because the Springwell Senior Living facility on West Rogers Avenue, where the parade started and ended, was on generator power until Monday, when its power was restored.

Caroline Tufts, an organizer of the 13th annual Mount Washington parade, was without power and spending nights at a friend's house in Parkville.

"We're surviving," Tufts said. "It's not the end of the world. We could be in Colorado, dealing with fires."

Mac Nachlas, who was also still without power, said he and his family have been staying out on the porch.

"We ate all the perishables (in the refrigerator) first," he said. But he said friends and neighbors have been helpful, offering ice, freezer space and generators.

One casualty of Mount Washington's festivities was the annual use of the Mount Washington Swim Club for free on the Fourth. That tradition wasn't possible to keep, because the club had no power, either.

Nachlas, former president of the Mount Washington Improvement Association, said he left messages for the city's Office of Neighborhoods, requesting that the swim club be made one of the city's emergency cooling centers. But he said nobody called him back.

Still, he was heartened by the willingness of Mount Washingtonians to help out their neighborhood. The experience, he said, "has been a lot more good than bad."

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