Splendid blue skies, brilliant sunshine and dry air yesterday beckoned beach lovers by the thousands, bicyclists, moms pushing strollers, backyard barbecuers and dads playing catch with the kids.
But on the heavily traveled Maryland roads, police reported that five people, including a 7-month-old Kent County girl, died in traffic accidents during the three-day holiday weekend.
State police said last night that the heavy Labor Day traffic was moving steadily on roads leading from the beach. Traffic crossed the Bay Bridge without a hitch throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
At the Maryland State Fair, officials looked to the skies and gave thanks. A week of searing heat or soggy weather -- and a hurricane threat -- had hurt earlier attendance at the fair.
But a big turnout yesterday was expected to boost overall attendance at the 10-day fair to at least last year's estimated 535,000, said Patrick Davalos, assistant to the fair's general manager.
"In the beginning, with the extreme heat with 95-degree-plus weather, heat and humidity and no relief, the weather was a factor," Mr. Davalos said.
"People just didn't want to stay around. Today, they felt better out here. They stayed longer; they made a day of it."
Yesterday, more than 60,000 people strolled the midway, savored the scents of pit beef and cotton candy and took in traditional shows and exhibits featuring, among other things, Holstein dairy cattle, Arabian horses, sheep and swine.
Ocean City police estimated that 250,000 people spent the Labor Day weekend at the resort. Saturday's cloudy weather, the threat of hurricane Emily last week and early school starting dates apparently kept crowds smaller than some past Labor Days.
Numerous vacancy signs could be seen. The holiday weekend got off to a slow start Saturday, but by Sunday the crowds had picked up.
In a comparison of the last five Labor Day weekends, this one ranked on the lower end of the scale, said Robert Rothermel, Ocean City Convention Center director.
On the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, the Coast Guard reported heavy boat traffic yesterday but no serious accidents or injuries.
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine bustled with heavy crowds as both Maryland residents and visitors from out-of-state overflowed parking lots to soak up some history during the sun-splashed afternoon.
A 5 1/2 -mile backup was reported on Maryland 404 westbound at Legion Road and traffic had been backed up for 5 miles in Queenstown.
Throughout the afternoon, the heavy traffic sporadically slowed to about 25 mph to 30 mph at both trouble spots, state police said.
About 4,000 cars per hour crossed the Bay Bridge eastbound during the afternoon, state police said.
In weekend traffic accidents, the 7-month-old, Andrianna Annika Crump, died Saturday night when the car in which she was riding was hit broadside by a 1985 Ford Tempo that state police said had run a stop sign at Newman's Corner in Queen Anne's County. The infant was riding in a safety seat in the rear of a 1991 Nissan Sentra driven by her mother, Bridget Ann Hamilton, 30, of Worton, when the accident occurred at 6:50 p.m. at Pinder Hill and John Powell roads.
The Crump infant was flown by state police helicopter to the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where she was pronounced dead. Ms. Hamilton was treated and released at Kent and Queen Anne's Hospital.
Kenya Monique Tate, 20, of Millington in Kent County, the driver of the Ford, was flown to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center. She was reported in fair condition Sunday. State police said the accident was under investigation.
In other weekend traffic accidents:
* A 40-year-old Baltimore woman died of massive head injuries after being thrown from the back seat of a motorcycle that struck a concrete barrier along the Jones Falls Expressway in %o downtown Baltimore early Sunday morning.
Gail Kay White, of the 4200 block of Fallstaff Road, was a passenger on a 1984 BMW motorcycle traveling north at 2:15 a.m. when it went out of control and struck a barrier near Fayette Street, police said.
Police charged the motorcycle's driver, Leo Clarence Schmitz, 40, of Bowie, with driving while intoxicated, Sgt. Paul Davis said. Other charges are pending a review of the incident by the city state's attorney's office.
Mr. Schmitz returned to the accident scene, police said. He was in fair condition at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
* Atilio Ramos, a 48-year-old Annapolis man, was struck and killed Saturday night while he walked in the middle of Route 2 during a heavy rainstorm, Anne Arundel County police said.
Mr. Ramos, of the 300 block of E. Center St., was struck at 7:58 p.m. by a southbound car in the 5400 block of Solomons Island Road (Route 2). He was thrown into the northbound lane, where he was struck by at least two vehicles, police said.
The southbound car was driven by Sharon Mosher Marlowe, 23, of Huntingtown in Calvert County. Police were investigating the accident.
* A Montgomery County man was killed -- and his wife and daughter and another man were injured -- in a two-vehicle accident in Gaithersburg Saturday morning.
Police said Kenneth Samuel Jenkins, 51, of Damascus was pronounced dead at the scene. His wife, Rosemary Jenkins, 48, and their daughter, Elaine Jenkins, 15, were listed in stable condition at Montgomery General Hospital in Olney, a hospital spokesman said.
Police said Mr. Jenkins was driving a 1993 Ford Mustang on Route 124 near Brink Road when his car went out of control and struck a guardrail at 9 a.m. The car then was struck by a 1986 Chevrolet Blazer driven by James Dixon Jr., 51, of Gaithersburg, police said.
Mr. Dixon was listed in serious condition at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.
* A 67-year-old man was struck and killed by a station wagon early Sunday at a Bladensburg intersection.
Police said the driver of the Toyota station wagon was not charged but that the investigation of the 3 a.m. accident at Landover Road and 56th Place was continuing.
The name of the victim was withheld pending notification of relatives.