Run­ning Fes­ti­val and Fleet Week will make for a chaotic week­end

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Colin Camp­bell

Marathon­ers streamed into the Bal­ti­more Con­ven­tion Cen­ter on Thurs­day to pick up their race pack­ets as Blue An­gels prac­tic­ing their for­ma­tions screamed over­head — the first signs of what of­fi­cials ex­pect to be a busy, crowded, chaotic week­end in the city.

The Bal­ti­more Run­ning Fes­ti­val and the U.S. Navy Fleet Week and Air Show are ex­pected to bring tens of thou­sands of visi­tors down­town. They’ll ar­rive Saturday to find many streets closed for the marathon, cre­at­ing a traf­fic mess that trans­porta­tion of­fi­cials are asking driv­ers to avoid by tak­ing pub­lic tran­sit — or, if they’re not at­tend­ing the events, stay­ing away al­to­gether.

Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion spokes­woman Adrienne Barnes de­scribed the lo­gis­tics of bal­anc­ing the var­i­ous events with one word: “chal­leng­ing.”

“Plan to travel wisely,” she said. “If you don’t have to be down­town, please try to avoid the area and take al­ter­nate routes in TRUMP STRIKES BACK: Don­ald Trump re­sponded to new al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault by step­ping up his an­gry re­but­tals and threats, call­ing him­self a vic­tim of a ca­bal. CLIN­TON’S MA­NEU­VERS: Hil­lary Clin­ton’s cam­paign tried to move the Illi­nois pres­i­den­tial pri­mary to a later date, to stop mo­men­tum for a mod­er­ate Repub­li­can can­di­date, ac­cord­ing to email hacked from the ac­counts of cam­paign chair­man John Podesta.

and around the foot­print.”

The marathon route en­cir­cles down­town, clos­ing streets across the city for much of Saturday morn­ing. The race, which be­gins at 8 a.m., goes around the har­bor from Lo­cust Point to Pat­ter­son Park, so run­ners will pass within view of the gi­ant gray-hulled Navy war­ships docked in the port for pub­lic tours.

About 23,000 run­ners are signed up for the Bal­ti­more Marathon, Half-Marathon and other races, said race di­rec­tor Lee Cor­ri­gan.

Another 2,500 peo­ple — sailors from the U.S. and other navies — are ar­riv­ing in Bal­ti­more aboard dozens of ships this week that, in turn, are ex­pected to draw thou­sands more visi­tors into the city for tours.

Then there are the Blue An­gels. The Navy’s elite flight demon­stra­tion team will per­form Saturday and Sunday from noon un­til 3 p.m., draw­ing crowds to rooftop decks and out­door spa­ces, such as Fort McHenry, that have open views of the har­bor.

Bal­ti­more po­lice spokesman T.J. Smith said the on­slaught of crowds presents a unique chal­lenge to po­lice and other agen­cies charged with keep­ing res­i­dents and visi­tors safe.

“We have to ap­proach it dif­fer­ently,” he said, “be­cause of the amount of peo­ple you ex­pect.”

Po­lice, trans­porta­tion of­fi­cials and event or­ga­niz­ers have been meet­ing for months to dis­cuss how best to man­age a week­end packed with peo­ple and events.

“We want to make sure ev­ery­one’s on the same sheet of mu­sic,” Smith said.

The Po­lice Depart­ment will watch over the city with a pri­vate com­pany’s ae­rial sur­veil­lance plane — which caused a stir re­cently when it was re­vealed to have been used for eight months with­out the knowl­edge of the pub­lic or even the mayor.

The po­lice will also use mo­bile com­mand cen­ters, and uni­formed and plain­clothes of­fi­cers will be de­ployed in abun­dance through­out the week­end, Smith said.

Po­lice are work­ing with the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity and other agen­cies.

The Mary­land Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency has in­creased staffing for the week­end, spokesman Chas Eby said, and will be mon­i­tor­ing both the city and county po­lice de­part­ments’ needs as they arise.

“If they need any­thing to make their jobs eas­ier or bet­ter equip them, we can co­or­di­nate that and get it to them,” Eby said. Gary Delp of Lans­dale, Pa., picks up his Bal­ti­more Marathon T-shirt Thurs­day from vol­un­teer Jen­nifer Bryson at the Bal­ti­more Con­ven­tion Cen­ter. About 23,000 run­ners have signed up to par­tic­i­pate in the Bal­ti­more Run­ning Fes­ti­val this week­end.

Cor­ri­gan, the race di­rec­tor, said or­ga­niz­ers re­al­ize how much con­ges­tion the var­i­ous events will cre­ate, and plan to clean up the marathon route close be­hind the last run­ner to open the closed roads as quickly as pos­si­ble.

He ex­pects most of down­town to be re­opened by noon.

“There’s a lot of peo­ple who tend to panic when it hits marathon day,” Cor­ri­gan said, “but they don’t re­al­ize we clean it up as we go.

He said the run­ning fes­ti­val con­trib­utes $40 mil­lion to the lo­cal econ­omy and said it nets more than $1 mil­lion for par­tic­i­pat­ing char­i­ties.

Bob Olsen, 45, CEO of Com­pass Cy­ber­se­cu­rity, signed up for the re­lay with a few of his em­ploy­ees. He plans to at­tend the Fleet Week fes­tiv­i­ties both Saturday and Sunday.

“It’s go­ing to be cool,” Olsen said, “and crazy.”

With roads closed and park­ing re­stricted, the run­ners won’t be the only ones get­ting ex­er­cise this week­end, joked Matt Flora. The 25-year-old Fells Point res­i­dent, who works at Com­pass and is on Olsen’s re­lay team, plans to leave his car at home.

“It’s go­ing to be crazy, but it’s go­ing to be fun if you’re not driv­ing,” he said.

Jerry Werner, 72, who lives on An­dre Street in Lo­cust Point, just blocks from Fort McHenry, said he and his neigh­bors like the fes­tiv­i­ties but hate the park­ing re­stric­tions on Fort Av­enue.

“It’s hor­ri­ble,” Werner said. “You can’t park on the av­enue, you can’t park on the back road. You’re locked in the neigh­bor­hood the whole week­end. If you move your car, you might not get a park­ing spot at all when you get back.”

Still, Werner ex­pects to watch the Blue An­gels from his son’s rooftop deck down the road. “We’re com­mit­ted to stay home,” he said. Wal­ter H. Jubb III, a Bal­ti­more fire­fighter who lives down the street, had a brighter out­look, al­though he ac­knowl­edged that his off-street park­ing pad and garage — a rar­ity in a block of row­houses — al­lows him the priv­i­lege of com­ing and go­ing with­out wor­ry­ing about park­ing.

“I’m spoiled,” he said. “If I didn’t have this park­ing, it might be a dif­fer­ent story.”

The week­end’s bar­rage of ac­tiv­i­ties is good for Bal­ti­more as a whole, Jubb said.

“The city needs stuff like this to help it re­bound from some of the prob­lems it has,” he said.

“And we know the city has a ton of prob­lems.”


The Blue An­gels, the Navy’s pre­ci­sion fly­ing squad, will per­form in the skies over Bal­ti­more on Saturday and Sunday at the U.S. Navy Fleet Week and Air Show.


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