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Mayor misses Mayor's Christmas Parade for Florida trip

Missing from this year's Mayor's Christmas Parade? The mayor.

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's staff called organizers of the 41st Annual Mayor's Christmas Parade in Hampden late last week to inform them she wouldn't be attending the holiday tradition over the weekend.

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Rawlings-Blake, who is secretary of the Democratic National Committee, had a weekend executive committee meeting with that organization in Hollywood, Fla., according to her staff. She also attended the NFL game between the Ravens and the Miami Dolphins and met with Mera Rubell, the Miami-based owner of the Lord Baltimore Hotel, her staff said.  

Parade organizer Tom Kerr said some attendees were disappointed not to see Rawlings-Blake participating, but enjoyed the eclectic event nonetheless.

"Everybody said, 'Where's the mayor?'" he said. "She didn't show, but the show went on."

Started under William Donald Schaefer, mayors have regularly attended the event, although it is not organized by city government. Rawlings-Blake attended for her first four years as mayor.

Mayor Sheila Dixon never missed a year, even enduring "boos" after her embezzlement conviction in 2009. Dixon once described getting booed at the event as "probably the hardest" moment of her political career since the conviction.

"I give her credit," Kerr said. "She could have opted out."

Kerr said he couldn't recall Schaefer or mayors Kurt Schmoke or Clarence H. "Du" Burns ever missing the event, but remembers Mayor Martin O'Malley sometimes not being able to attend.

"We have a lot of good talent in the parade," Kerr said.

Kevin Harris, a spokesman for Rawlings-Blake, said the mayor tries to strike a "balance" between Baltimore events and her work with the DNC and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

"Every year, we work really hard with the organizers to reserve time on the mayor's schedule," Harris said of the parade. "Unfortunately, this year there was a conflict. We have to balance it out. Her primary job is being in the city, and the overwhelming majority of her time is spent in the city."

The Florida trip was paid for by the DNC, Harris said.

lbroadwater@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/lukebroadwater 

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