Ehhh, what's up, doc?
To the politicians and corporate officers gathered yesterday in White Marsh, the answer could be found in the grand opening of a Warner Bros. merchandise distribution center and outlet store.
It was ballyhooed as an economic development coup bringing 180 new jobs and a measure of prestige for White Marsh.
But 3-year-old Samantha Deangler had more important concerns -- such as breaking away from a throng of children to steal hugs from a costumed Bugs Bunny and his Looney Tunes friends, Daffy Duck, Tweety and Sylvester.
As Gov. Parris N. Glendening took his place at the microphone, he surveyed about 100 parents and increasingly fidgety children and knew he couldn't compete.
"This is wonderful," he joked. "The children are getting so involved in jobs and economic development."
Calling the cartoon characters forward, he added, "This is the fun part, but it's about making sure our future and our children's futures are secure."
The store that opened yesterday adjoins the 400,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center that has been in operation since last month east of Interstate 95 near White Marsh Mall.
The warehouse supplies merchandise for 62 Warner Bros. studio stores east of the Mississippi River, said Michael Tillman, a vice president. Although Warner Bros. operates more than 120 stores in the United States, Europe and Asia, White Marsh is its only discount outlet for merchandise overruns and odd lots.
The $16 million distribution center is the largest private commercial development in metropolitan Baltimore since the Towson Commons complex and the Commerce Place office building in downtown Baltimore opened in 1992. Elected officials, as well as officials from White Marsh developer Nottingham Properties Inc., joined in the ribbon-cutting.
By the time that was accomplished, the children were straining to rub shoulders and exchange high-fives with the fuzzy costumed characters. They pressed forward with their parents -- the children looking for hugs and cuddles, the parents for bargains. They found merchandise, including T-shirts and Bugs Bunny corn-on-the-cob plates, at 50 percent to 75 percent off list prices.
Samantha remained captivated by the characters while her mother, Nancy Deangler, picked out T-shirts for her older son and a Tweety exercise outfit for herself.
It seemed that the cartoon themes appealed to the child in almost everyone.
As Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III put it, "Seeing the children here reminds me of growing up, and I see all you parents, too, remembering Saturday morning cartoons."