Week of Ravens fever culminates in Purple Friday

The stylists say purple is the it winter color. But Baltimore already knows that, doesn't it?

As the Ravens inch closer to a spot in the Super Bowl, the city has gone seriously, deliriously plum — and, sorry Milan, this is no fashion statement: It's a pride thing.

With the light bulbs, the jerseys, the sweaters and the dog collars, the banners, the flags, the hats and the panty hose, the face paint, the ties and even, Lord help us, the wigs, Purple Friday, a season-long staple for die hards, has gone large. The giddy masses are in on it now, and heck, this week so was Monday, Tuesday, Thursday — in this town, every day, anymore, is Purple Friday.

Take Shirley Clary. The retired secretary from Timonium used to reserve her special hat, the one that makes her look as if a bird is roosting right on her head, for game days, maybe Fridays. But this week, Clary was marching up and down the aisles of her grocery store in it, wearing it to get breakfast at Panera Bread and again when she dined at The Peppermill with her husband.

On Friday night, the 74-year-old planned to go out again, using The Bird, as it were, to top off an outfit that included violet panty hose and a naughty purple boa.

"It's my lucky charm," she says of the hat, bought when the Ravens won their first and only Super Bowl. "It brings 'em luck."

Then there's Joey Beach, who's known for buying a de-commissioned school bus, purple-ing it up and driving it through his Stewartstown, Pa., neighborhood, beeping, when the Ravens win.

This week he's stringing purple lights onto his deck at home, and at work, trying to sell cars festooned with purple balloons at Bob Bell in Eastpoint.

"It's on everybody's mind every day," Beach says.

On Friday, of course, the show of purple was particularly intense.

The Ravens organization led a day-long, dawn-to-dark moving celebration, bringing cheerleaders, the pep band — even their avian mascots Rise and Conquer — everywhere from breakfast joints to stores and pubs.

At a lunchtime rally on Canton Square, people could feel the reverberation from the drum-heavy band blocks before they could see it. Students from the nearby Saint Casmir Catholic School, who were allowed to walk over, giggled and high-fived the mascot.

A contingent from Legg Mason might have been the most outrageously dressed, including the very-pregnant Julie Hill who wore a sign taped over her tummy that read "Future Raven Fan."

Offices all across the region, bank, real estate agencies, accounting firms, technology hubs and government agencies, not only encouraged employees to wear purple — in some cases, they threw parties.

At Bill Me Later in Hunt Valley, bosses blasted the staff all week with reminders to dress up, and to get down to the lobby, draped with purple balloons, banners and tinsel, for wings and cake. Whoever best bedazzled their cubicle with Ravens-ness could win two tickets to a game next year.

Bill Bilger papered his area with vintage football newspaper clippings. Lisa Markline strung her area with little football lights, crafted a goal post from cardboard tubes and stenciled a wall-sized sign with the message, "Go Ravens, Beat Indy!"

And much to his co-workers dismay, Kyle Cummings, one of the company's tech workers, wore his lucky Ravens jersey – that he hasn't washed since the Ravens started their winning streak in December.

Markline appreciated her company spirit, saying, "It's important. It's our hometown team."

In Howard County, County Executive Ken Ulman, public servant that he is, tried to infuse his office with as much team spirit as he could without spending any money. That means declaring Friday Willis McGahee Day-hee and serving Harbaugh hot dogs and Todd Heaps of chili over Ray Rice in the office cafeteria.

Even school kids — both the public and private schools usually limited to uniforms — were free to bring out the sporty purple stuff on Friday.

Carol Topa, a Baltimore County substitute teacher, who also happens to be secretary for the Council of Baltimore Ravens Roosts, said kids at Victory Villa Elementary and Holabird Middle were quite "pumped up" to wear purple.

As for Topa, she snuck a little violet into an otherwise professional outfit on Thursday, teaching in a purple top and matching hair ribbon. But Friday, it was no holds barred: Time for the football jersey.

"Everybody is just really gung ho for the Ravens this week," she said. "We're so hyped."

An earlier version misidentified a company present at a Ravens rally. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.