60,000 take stroll across Bay Bridge Warm weather, sun mark 19th walk


From early morning through late afternoon, they streamed across the Chesapeake Bay bridge as far as the eye could see. Some wore baseball caps, straw hats, bandannas and headphones, cool tank tops, hot Lycra bodysuits, oversized T-shirts and jackets. Others sported tiny running shorts, or Bermudas; bluejeans or linen trousers.

And as they sauntered and strutted, sprinted and strolled, the approximately 60,000 participants in yesterday's 19th annual Bay Bridge Walk could think of myriad reasons for crossing the bay.

Many said they came simply because the weather -- breezy, clear and 75 degrees -- was too good to miss. But others gave reasons that ranged from good opportunities for bird-watching and photographing boats to a unique way to exercise and a great chance to meet men along the 4.3-mile walk.

But "we all had fun," said Tom Freburger, spokesman for the Maryland Transportation Authority, sponsor of the event.

He said last year, the estimated crowd was 67,000, for the walk that is part of the state's annual celebration of the bay and includes BayFest at Sandy Point State Park and the 6.2-mile Governor's Bay Bridge Run.

The parade of people on the two-lane, eastbound span of the bridge began at 9 a.m. It ended in the late afternoon when the final walkers straggled in.

The chance for exercise drew Columbia resident Mike Cesario. He zipped across the bridge, turned around and began walking back in search of his wife.

Surely companionship, not weight loss, was why Julie Lucatamo drove from Newark, Del., to meet her mother, Loretta Lucatamo and friend, Winnie Hammond, both of Elkton, for the walk.

The three of them, who exercise regularly and were walking briskly, had begun the day by meeting at a doughnut shop. But they had also stopped at a McDonald's before arriving at the bridge. The first stop "doesn't count. We were there for the doughnut holes, not the doughnuts!" said Julie Lucatamo.

Although he made most of the trek with a baby stroller slung over one shoulder, Bernard Cook wasn't a bit out of breath. The Dayton, Md., attorney, who runs, swims, plays racquetball and bikes, came to the bridge with his wife and son. His son, 2-year-old Tyler, who was being carried by his mother, slept for about 2 1/2 miles of the walk.

Fear of heights -- and the desire to conquer it -- compelled one woman to cross the bridge.

The woman, who declined to give her name and spoke from under a large, floppy hat, said the trick was to keep both eyes on the double yellow lines in the middle of the road. She said walking the bridge, which rises to 185 feet above the water, was no less scary than driving it.

Pure speed seemed the inspiration for at least one walker. As the white-haired, blue-suited walker whipped by those who were merely strolling, a few were heard to say, "Who is that man?"

It was Shannon Ferguson of Alexandria, Va. A gold-medal winner in the half-, one- and three-mile race walking events for age 65 to 69 in the Northern Virginia Senior Olympics last September, he was a walker with a mission.

He was here, he said, as he slowed not one bit, "to get across."

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