An Easter parade around the Inner Harbor


As the sweet strains of jazz drifted over Baltimore's Inner Harbor yesterday, 75-year-old Willie Frison, impeccable in a white linen suit and hat, found he couldn't resist the temptation to dance any longer.

Still footloose and full of spunk, Mr. Frison gave up his front-row seat at the Harborplace Amphitheatre to join four little girls swaying to the rhythm of the Jerry Gordon Quintet.

"I just love this," he said over the applause of the crowd when the Washington-based group took a break. Wiping his brow, Mr. Frison, who lives in Northeast Baltimore, went on, "I dance all the time. I've been dancing ever since I was 4."

It was that kind of day at the Inner Harbor yesterday. Bright and breezy, it was a perfect afternoon for the ritual Easter display of spring finery as well as a few surprises.

Teen-agers in high heels strolled along the waterfront, tourists snapped pictures of the seals at the National Aquarium and elderly couples paused to listen to the music. A shirtless man with a gray ponytail pulled out a beach blanket and tanning lotion. An enormous Great Dane puppy drew a slightly nervous but admiring crowd.

Nicole Mosley and her three daughters -- Takia, 8, Tyra, 6, and Dominique, 3, -- came after church. The girls wore lacy white dresses and wanted to eat ice cream. Their mother smiled as passers-by stopped to compliment their Easter outfits.

"Every year, we come down so they can show their dresses off," said Mrs. Mosley of East Baltimore.

Darla Kirgan of Overlea had a more practical thought. Waiting with her 17-year-old daughter, Megan, for tenor saxophone player Ron Holloway to take the stage, she joked, "We gave up on the ham dinner and decided just to come here for the day. This way, there's no mess to clean up."

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has arranged for the Easter concerts for the past two years after a large crowd of young people led to the early closing of Harborplace in 1993.

On that Easter, more than 4,000 youths gathered at the Inner Harbor, and some people said they were fearful of an unruly crowd. There were some complaints about rowdy behavior, but others said the youths were simply showing off Easter outfits. Police reported no crimes or arrests.

Mr. Schmoke said he decided to build on the teen-age tradition of strolling at the Inner Harbor to create a celebration for everyone.

Yesterday's jazz concerts in the afternoon and early evening drew up to 9,000 people. The event was sponsored by the Baltimore Office of Promotion, radio station 95.9 FM and Harborplace & the Gallery.

Mr. Schmoke described it as a "celebration of family, celebration of togetherness and celebration of community."

Best of all, for Alfred Greene of Annapolis, a jazz lover who had his arms wrapped around his 5-year-old son, it was a celebration of good music.

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