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Public is the star of 'Really Big Show' downtown


It's your chance to be in show business -- Baltimore show business, that is. "The Really Big Show," part of the Downtown Baltimore Show, arrives this weekend with a starring role for just about everybody, no matter what your interests are.

"There are so many other options for people to do with their time now -- whether it's watching TV or staying at home and using the personal computer. We want to remind people of all the wonderful things that Baltimore has to offer," says Laurie Schwartz, president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore Inc.

"We want people to rediscover Baltimore," she continued. "Someone may come downtown who hasn't been in years and discover that Charles Street is a really nice place to stroll or that Antique Row is a great place to visit. Then they'll want to come back."

Among the more than 100 things to do this weekend is "Glow Downtown." This afternoon at 5:30, 10 hot air balloons will be launched from the Inner Harbor's Rash Field. From there, the balloons should float off into the sunset. But they'll be back on Saturday at 7 p.m., when they'll be tethered to Rash Field, lighting up the night with a spectacular glow. That should make a great backdrop for a night of socializing or dancing in the streets.

For the little ones, there's the Mayor's Spring Festival Saturday starting at noon at NationsBank Plaza, 34 Market Place. Kids can hang out with the Easter Bunny, pet some zoo animals, play games and make crafts. There will also be dancers, jugglers and acrobats.

Also for children on Saturday, the "Fun Time Fam-Boree" at Lexington Market offers more zoo animals to see, science demonstrations, face painting and other activities.

Lovers of the arts should enjoy the 16 performances at area theaters, architectural walking tours of historic Baltimore and the more than a dozen concerts.

And this is a very big weekend for the National Aquarium as well. To celebrate the reopening of the Atlantic Coral Reef, the aquarium has planned live music outside on the pier along with children's activities and diver demonstrations. Shark lovers will enjoy seeing the big guys of the underwater world in their refurbished tanks, too.

On Antique Row, there will be an auction on Saturday at the Harris Auction Galleries along with an Open House Saturday and Sunday at most of the shops along Antique Row. Have a dusty item in the attic and think it might be worth something? Bring it along and have it appraised for free.

There are even more things to discover around town this weekend, including 70 area shops and restaurants offering discounts. For free discount coupons on parking and transportation around town, pick up a copy of the complete "Really Big Show" schedule at any Crown gasoline station, Harborplace, the Gallery or Lexington Market. Or call (410) 342-SHOW.

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