A STRANGE-LOOKING COLLECTION OF folks descended on Dave & Buster's at Arundel Mills. But this was intentional strangeness, for the Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake's "Gridiron Halloween" celebration earlier this month.

A quick scan of the place showed Robin Hood, Maid Marian, a pair of penguins, "Britney Spears," "Lindsay Lohan," and a handful of cowboys, witches and hippies. And then there were the flapper perusing the poolroom, the clown in the bowling alley, and the skeleton in the buffet line.

The evening's hosts: Mark Clayton, Kyle Boller and Todd Heap claimed something other than their Baltimore Ravens' costumes and personas. Boller appeared as a house painter and Heap was a ninja. When asked about whether there was a reason each had chosen costumes with masks that virtually hid their faces, the two slyly responded "of course not," and returned to their pool game in the corner of the VIP room. And, was Clayton -- who sported a nubby cream-colored sweater and slacks, even in costume? Yes, indeed.

"I'm 'Dumb,' and I came with my homeboy, and he's 'Dumber,'" Clayton said, motioning to his friend, actor / playwright Moses Washington.

Enjoying it all, as she made her way through the crowd meeting and greeting, the "Big Bad Wolf," Goodwill Industries' president and CEO Marge Thomas, whose 6-foot, 5-inch husband came as Little Red Riding Hood.

"Everybody who comes to this party always says that it's the one fundraiser they always go to where they don't eat rubber chicken, and it's just really, really a fun time," she said.

ONLINE Sloane Brown takes you to the party with a calendar of upcoming events and video reports at / scene


BY DAY, JOE DICARA, 58, IS MANAGING director of MercAtech Inc., an international private investment firm. By night, this Highlandtown native is known as the "Baltimore Baritone." In addition to performances with the Baltimore Opera Company and the Baltimore City Park Band, DiCara claims the title of "official national anthem singer" for Fort McHenry's Flag Day celebrations. DiCara has two adult sons and lives in Essex with his wife, Sheila.

How did you get into this national anthem singing?

Growing up, I was a fan of the Colts and the Orioles. In the late '70s, I decided I was going to call the Orioles' office [and volunteer to sing the anthem for them]. Bud Freeman was in charge of that. He says, "Well, I don't know, I'll have to hear you sing." I said, "I'm singing with the Baltimore Park Band ..." [Later] he called and said, "I was over there and I saw you and I'd like you to sing these dates." That was 1980.

How many times do you think you've sung the national anthem?

I'm guessing 400 or 500.

Do you ever not hit that high note?

No. I always hit it.

Do you ever wish your entire career was with music?

That was the plan when I was in high school and preparing to go to Peabody Conservatory. Then I met the girl who would become my wife ... and raising a family became more important. ... Not to sound overly religious, but I believe there's a lot of divine intervention in where we are going in our lives. Sometimes I'll say to God, "I don't know where we're going, but I'm following your lead." And it really hasn't failed me.

ONLINE Read more of the interview with Joe DiCara at / drink

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