Jean Parker’s first job at Merriweather Post Pavilion was operating a popcorn stand part-time after graduating from Mount Hebron High School in 1977. The Woodbine resident has worked at the outdoor amphitheater in Columbia ever since, taking the helm in 1987. Here, Parker shares three little-known facts about her life.
1. She waited until age 36 to pierce her ears.
Parker’s late husband, Doug, gave her diamond stud earrings for her birthday in 1995 “as kind of a joke” since she’s always been a tomboy. “But I felt I had to respect the gift, so I finally got my ears pierced,” she recalls. She’s also never had a manicure and doesn’t intend to, preferring to spend what little free time she has running or hiking.
2. She founded the Howard Stampede field hockey program.
In 2002, Parker saw a void since girls weren’t introduced to field hockey until middle school. With fields in high demand, she took a 4 p.m. slot, reasoning that parents would get interested kids there somehow. The county’s first youth recreational field hockey program now enrolls 250 to 300 girls in grades one through eight. “It’s always been a way for me to give back,” she says.
3. She organized a 45-hour family trip to Super Bowl XLVII.
Parker’s four kids are die-hard Ravens fans who begged her to take them to root on the home team in New Orleans in 2013. At the last minute, she caved in. With no hotel rooms available in New Orleans, they settled on a Saturday flight to Alabama. They drove to the Superdome the next morning, watched the Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers, 34-31, and drove back to Birmingham to catch a 6 a.m. flight Monday. All four kids were in school by noon. “With all the excitement of doing this together and the fact that the Ravens won, that will go down in infamy as the best family trip ever,” she says.