Baltimore Ravens Draft Fest & Baltimore, Maryland | 27 April 2019

When I took my dad to the Ravens/Broncos game in September 2018, I signed up for the Purple newsletter. Purple is a fan club for Ravens fans who are women. A few weeks ago they sent me a newsletter advertising for the different draft pick events, free events, and when I saw that a party going to be held on Saturday, 27 April, I decided to take off from the library and go.

I left from Philadelphia at 8:16 AM and I arrived in Baltimore at 9:40 AM with Amtrak. I have a silly ritual about every time I arrive in Baltimore – Baltimore has always been one of my favourite cities and we spent a lot of time there when I was a little girl (we celebrated my 16th birthday in Baltimore, that was my wish, and had a lovely dinner at McCormick & Schmick). Whenever I arrive at the train station, I have someone take my picture standing next to the train because I think travel photos are a neat concept for a scrapbook. A woman behind me gladly obliged and when we walked up the stairs, she saw me trying to take a selfie with the “Welcome to Baltimore” sign that she offered to take the photo for me. I was grateful.

In September I won a free transit pass from MTA and unfortunately, it wasn’t filled. I couldn’t get a day pass online after I registered my card, and I decided to fill it at the station. Unfortunately, I couldn’t fill the card at all, I’ll have to call, and I bought a day pass for $4.20. I knew I was going touse the Charm City Circulator, the free bus, to get to the Inner Harbor and I could use Charm City Circulator to get to the Charles Theater to see the movie. However, after some careful planning, I had to use MTA for the restaurant I was going to and getting back to the Inner Harbor, before I went to the Charles Theater. Transit in Baltimore is much cheaper than Philadelphia and I didn’t mind putting less than $5 in advance for a card.

I love the Charm City Circulator and it always seems like professional people use it. The woman who agreed to take my photos met up with a colleague and I learned they were in town for a conference. It wasn’t a long trip; roads were closed for Draft Fest and either Baltimorians planned in advance for these road closures or not many people travel on Saturday mornings, there was no traffic congestion and I arrived at the Inner Harbor in 15 minutes.

The wind was wicked and the Ravens flags were whipping violently in the air. I’m glad I wore a jacket because even though it was 66 degrees, it felt ten degrees cooler from the wind. Other than the wind, the sun was out, and it was a beautiful day in Baltimore. I saw the food trucks lined up and the first food truck I saw had international foods AND they could make most of the food GLUTEN FREE! I was over the moon. I packed some snacks, just in case, but I was grateful I could find at least one food truck. It was 10:30 at that point and I decided that I would have an early, but filling lunch. My stomach was growling and I had to eat.

I ordered a Canadian maple turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce. The owners were really sweet and the guy apologized that the GF bread was tiny. He bought a different brand and didn’t like how tiny the bread was. I said, “honestly, it’s okay. I’m just extremely grateful that you have options. It’s difficult at times finding food trucks and restaurants that offer it at all. I’m thankful that you do.” They had a dedicated space for GF food and that made me even more grateful. The sandwich took longer than expected, but it was delicious. It hit the spot and ended up holding me over to 3:30pm (when I was in Starbucks, charging my phone, drinking iced tea and having one of my GF snacks before dinner).

I was sitting next to the Purple tent. After I finished noshing, I walked over and introduced myself. I played football, but unfortunately, my aim was off and I just missed the hole. I won a lanyard anyway since I almost had it. I won a feather boa from Plinko and was decked out for the entire day, with purple feathers flying everywhere. I chatted with some of the women and some agreed for a photo. It’s nice that the Ravens have a fan club just for women and I’m hoping I can attend the big event in the fall – a gala at M & T Field where I can meet some other players, and it’s an evening of a lot of fun.

As I was waiting for noon, the moment we would welcome Hollywood Brown, the Ravens’ first draft pick, to Baltimore, I decided to walk around. I saw many interesting costumes and the people were kind enough to pose for some pictures. I also saw many dogs dressed in their Ravens best and couldn’t help but snap away. I also met the Ravens cheerleaders, they agreed to a photo, and they signed a photo for me as well. It was one of their team photos; I want to get a frame for it and hang it up in my cubicle. I loved chatting with the two female cheerleaders and I mentioned that when I went to my first Ravens pre-season game in 2013, the two cheerleaders I met were Pennsylvania girls too. We laughed and the male cheerleader that was with them exclaimed, “Well, I’m a Pennsylvania guy!” He was from York and it is nice when athletes and the cheer squad are down to Earth. Actually, I can honestly say, every band, athlete, or famous person I’ve met so far has been down to Earth and personable. Maybe it’s the vibe I give off, but I’ve never had someone that was rude to me.

Noon came quickly and I went to the Draft Stage, which was in front of the Chesapeake Bay. Perfect spot for the stage too. Hollywood Brown walked to the stage and they interviewed him. The Ravens picked promise and it sounds like he will be good for the team. Afterwards, others rushed him as he walked to the radio tent for the interview. I had a photograph session at 12:30, but I decided to see the interview. It was a madhouse and after the interview, I asked Hollywood for a selfie and he agreed. However, many other people cut in and he was bombarded with stuff to sign and other photos. I didn’t push my way in or was loud about it, I just waited patiently. I know that sounds silly, but pushing my way in and being loud is a waste of energy to me. Surprisingly, he remembered my request and told people to hold on, he was getting a selfie with me. I was stunned, it seemed like quiet patience paid off. That ticked some of the men off and when I was trying to exit, they told me I couldn’t exit from where they were standing. I found another way.

Ironically, Hollywood Brown was one of the players that was picked for my photograph session. They did not announce who would be at the sessions, it was a surprise. Nick Boyle was the other player, one of my favourites. I had to wait in a long line, but the wait wasn’t too bad – by 1pm, I had a photo with Boyle and Brown. I gave Boyle a hug.

Earlier in the week, dad mentioned that during the Draft Fest, he read a blind boy was going to read one of the picks. Mo Gabba, a John Hopkins kid with cancer, often attends Orioles and Ravens events. He is one of their biggest fans and the teams are gracious about inviting him to different events. I saw the Orioles posted a video the other week when he met some of the players, and I was in tears. I wanted to catch Mo reading the draft pick in Braille and I’m so glad I did. I was verklempt and that was an understatement. The kindness that protruded from others by cheering on Mo made me tear up a little bit. After he left the stage, I asked his mom if I could get a photo with him, after I gave him some kind words (you’re a brave and strong boy, Mo!), and she agreed. However, like with Hollywood Brown, others cut in front. They had to do an interview and the mom apologized to me and I said, “that’s okay. Thank you for allowing me in the first place. Keep strong and brave. I am rooting for you.” She smiled and they hurried to an interview.

I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get a voucher for the 2:30 photograph session because Jacoby Jones was there! Jacoby was one of my favourite players from the 2012-2013 season, along with Ray Rice, Ray Lewis, and Torrey Smith. After Jacoby’s session, he was also rushing to an interview, but he stopped for me. He agreed to a selfie, but I used my Polaroid camera instead – polaroid selfie fail! You can see a little bit of my head, but it’s mostly a Jacoby selfie. Ah well, good times and good memories.

I met Poe! Poe is one of my favourite mascots, next to the Blue Jays’ Ace and the Orioles bird. I gave Poe a big hug and took a selfie with him! Poe was the life of the party and I managed to capture Poe meeting other fans. He is fun.

I also went to an autograph session and met Jimmy Smith. I bought a NFL draft hat and the cashier handed me a voucher for an autograph session. I gave dad the hat and it’s sitting on the bar next to his game day program, Ray Lewis commemorative coin, and the scrapbook I made him. His bar is decked out in Ravens memorabilia, and he especially loves the Ravens man cave banner I gave him. He was happy about the hat.

The event ended at 4, but I left at 3:30 to charge my phone and to sit down in Starbucks. I wanted to relax before I had to leave for the bus at 4:30 and it was nice to regroup in a calm environment.

Traveling by MTA was easy and straightforward. I caught the CityLink to Fells Point and Alexander’s Tavern was only three blocks away from the stop. I was early and decided to check out a store. There was a lot of fanfare in front of the store and I asked if it was a Pride event since I saw a Pride sign. The two drag queens laughed and said no, they were just having fun. There was also a pirate festival going on and the store was filled with pirates. They were fun and the whole experience was fun. Alexander’s was across the street  and it killed the time I needed it to kill.

Alexander’s was amazing! I haven’t had a crab cake since I’ve gone GF and I was in heaven. I will admit, I devoured it. It was so good. The crab dip and sweet potato tots were so good too. I had a lovely waitress and the whole experience was amazing. When I go back in June for the Orioles/Blue Jays game, I want to go back. I want to try their other GF delicacies and it wasn’t expensive at all.

My reservation was at 5 and I left at 6. Family didn’t start until 7:20 and I had enough time. I caught the CityLink heading downtown, to go to the Inner Harbor to catch the Charm City Circulator. Google Maps has a lot to be desired because it said that the CCC bus was only a two minute walk from the MTA stop. Not quite true, I couldn’t find the stop, and asked a woman for help. She said, “you can just take the Silver to the Charles Theater. It stops right there.” I was a little annoyed, but I decided to take her advice. The Silver is her normal route and she would point it out once we got to the 17th block of Charles Street. That day pass I bought came in handy after all since I only used the CCC once.

I found the Charles Theater with no issue, and it was two short blocks away from Penn Station, where I needed to go to catch the train back to Philadelphia. The Charles Theater is an old theater that shows mostly independent films. I’m glad they had Family and it was such a great movie. I became a Juggalette at 13 after one of Anna’s friends suggested Dark Lotus to me. To this day I still love exploring music and one thing led to another. I could relate to Maddie, she reminded me of myself when I was a young teen. Of course, this film isn’t only about juggalos, but navigating all stages of your life and being a kind human being. I would recommend Family and I plan on buying the DVD. I also want to return to Charles Theater because it looks like some great indie films are going to be released this summer! I also liked the atmosphere – there is something so magical about old movie theaters.

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I had an hour to kill after the movie and I wandered into a record store. They didn’t have many CDs, I don’t have a vinyl player, but they did have a wide selection of cassettes. The owner asked if he could help me with anything and I said, “Honestly, I’ve been exploring local talent lately. I listen to everything from heavy metal to classical to hip hop. I just came from a movie that featured Insane Clown Posse, I’ll listen to anything.” He laughed and made a of great suggestions. He suggested this one cassette that was experimental to the extreme, the guy is playing music with a metal bowl and singing. It’s pretty out there (I haven’t listened to it yet, I had to get my cassette player after I type this), but it will be fun to listen to. However, if I don’t care for it, the next time in town, I can exchange it. They are new to the location and don’t have sampling stations set up yet and hopefully when I go back, they will. I love record shops too.

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The store owner graciously agreed to a selfie.

I got home past midnight. My train left Baltimore at 10:30 PM, I was back in Philadelphia by 11:45 PM and Lyft dropped me off at home. I took a shower, took some aspirin, and went to bed. I woke up from a nap a few hours ago. I had such a great day in Baltimore yesterday and I can’t wait to go back.

Oh, here’s a video of Mo reading the draft pick and also the full photo album. I’m going to make a few collages for my cubicle at work.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/SzKhpTcMNf4j9Cuc8

Published by

thehappinessboxproject

Creator of the Happiness Box Project Initiative, a project where you write your happiness or gratitude each day, then open the box in the New Year. The Initiative is to teach joy and gratitude, to pass it on to others.

3 thoughts on “Baltimore Ravens Draft Fest & Baltimore, Maryland | 27 April 2019”

  1. Hi, Jessica Marie!

    You really did meet some interesting people on your latest journey to one of your favorite cities – Baltimore. It was nice of that stranger to pause and take pictures of you at two different locations. She went above and beyond! The Charm City Circulator sounds like a excellent service and a great way to get around the city. How lucky you were to find a food truck serving GF international foods! it must have been fun for you to hang out and chat with the women of the Ravens fan club. It’s so cool that you met cheerleaders and that the male cheerleader is from my hometown – York. It was a great moment when your quiet patience paid off and you got a picture with wide receiver Hollywood Brown. The photos ops with cancer kid Mo Gabba and Jacoby Jones didn’t turn out as well, but you kept your cool and remained polite in spite of your disappointment. That shows great maturity, especially at a chaotic sports related event such as this. The video of Mo was touching. Your day turned around again when you met and hugged Poe the mascot and met Jimmy Smith. This getaway had it all – drag queens, pirates, an amazing crab cake dinner at Alexander’s Tavern and catching the juggalo movie Family at the Charles Theater. I just watched the trailer for Family and it looks like my kind of film. The selfie you took with the record store owner is terrific. Let me know what you thought of the guy making music with a metal bowl. What a fun and exciting trip!

    Have a wonderful week, dear friend JM!

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    1. Hi Shady,

      Lately, I’ve been coming from a place of gratitude. Jacoby didn’t have to stop, but he did and while the photo didn’t turn out, I will remember his kindness forever. I wrote about his kindness for my Happiness Box.

      I know cancer is exhausting for anyone, but I’m sure it’s even harder on a child. I didn’t want to overwhelm Mo even more. Showing anything other than quiet kindness would have upset him and I didn’t want to do that.

      I’m finding that coming from gratitude and kindness rather than annoyance and ungratefulness feels better. It’s nice to be nice.

      Have a great week ahead, dear friend.

      Like

      1. It is much healthier for you to have the “juices” of love, kindness, compassion and forgiveness running through your body than the poison of hate. I wish more people would understand that.

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