The party parade goes on


No one could have persuaded Flo Rivelis - normal, non-wacky Flo Rivelis - to cruise along in the zany Charles Village parade yesterday and draw attention to herself.

So her family tricked her into it.

Lured into a black convertible under the guise of driving to a good spot to watch the fun, Rivelis, 75, ended up near the front of the long line of beehive-wearing scooter riders, waving dog-walkers, tin-can musicians and others celebrating both city life and the momentary sense of stardom.

Signs on the convertible urged, "Say Hello To Flo," and many of the folks lining the route did. A few blew kisses.

"'Say hello' - very funny," chuckled Rivelis, a Florida resident in town visiting her son, parade organizer Steven Rivelis.

Hundreds paraded as part of the annual Charles Village Celebration Weekend, first held in 1997 to mark the North Baltimore neighborhood's centennial. Events today include a garden walk at 11 a.m. and live jazz.

Thousands watched yesterday's procession, sitting on front steps, standing along - and in - the road and leaning out windows as the noisy, colorful conglomeration moved up St. Paul Street, across 33rd and down Charles.

"Nice to see your neighbors in a parade," said Lawrence Principe, 41, perched on a stone railing outside his home. He was only slightly startled when a participant ran up to him and hung a pink Hawaiian lei around his neck.

Dianna Woodlon, 47, personnel manager for a home health care agency on St. Paul Street, stepped out to enjoy the scene, as she does every year. "It's a break in the workday on Saturday to have a parade out the window," she said.

The entries included a truck covered with compact discs, plates, flags, dolls, magnets and other nicknackery; a car decorated with 3-D hands, "HANDIE" on the license plate; and a tugboat float followed by kids and adults wearing inner tubes.

City judges and politicians waved to the crowd. A group of marchers wore signs in favor of keeping the special - and controversial - taxing district in Charles Village. Another assemblage danced about in Shakespearean garb.

The event started at 10 a.m. and didn't end until nearly noon, when children and teens in the New Edition Marching Band danced and drummed an extended finale that ended up winning them a $100 prize in the youth category in the parade's best-of competition. Judges handed out a total of $500.

But paraders generally were less interested in the money than the madcap moments.

The Charles Village Noisemakers, in their fifth appearance at the parade, clamored along with everything from cowbells to bongos, one member dragging a collection of cans behind him. Pat Mogge, 36, wearing heart-shaped sunglasses and a cap covered in flowers, played guitar with a plastic water bottle instead of a pick.

They ended their make-it-up-as-you-go routine by shouting: "Someone's noise-making, my Lord, kumbaya."

"I have to set my musicality aside for this," joked noisemaker Chris Lerch, 35, a band director with a master's degree in ethnomusicology. "Rhythm is allowed. Melodies are frowned upon."

Perry Hall resident Teresa Perrera, 34, donned a leopard-print dress and a bubblegum-pink wig - 2 1/2 feet tall - for her ride with other members of the Baltimore Bombshells Scooter Club.

"Oh, this is great fun - any opportunity for us to wear funny clothes and make a spectacle of ourselves," said Holly Tominack, 32, a city librarian who improved her beehive wig with flowers.

Because he's organized this display of exuberance since its inception, Steven Rivelis has never been able to march along in a wild outfit, waving to the crowd. But he's still sure this much is true:

"Being in a parade is actually more fun than watching it," he said. "The whole goal is that eventually, there are no people who watch: Everyone is in."

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