Baltimore's Flower Mart
Photo credit: Baltimore Sun/Susan Reimer
Under blue skies and a bright sun, Baltimore officially welcomed spring with the opening of Flower Mart, a city tradition dating back 100 years.
Ladies in hats, babies in strollers and office workers with crab cake sandwiches strolled around Mount Vernon where dozens of booths overflowed with flowers, crafts and food.
Missing, however, was the late William Donald Schaefer, a determined Flower Mart stalwart who missed his beloved event for the first time in something like 60 years.
But his presence was felt at the city’s springtime ritual – and no more so than at the Institute of Notre Dame booth where a picture of the late mayor, governor and comptroller was placed among the flowers.
“He was a good, honest, clean-cut gentleman at all times,” said Sister Hildie Sutherland of IND. She has volunteered at this event for 30 years.
“He did have a temper, but when he cooled down it was over,” she said, a flower bonnet sitting on top of her veil. “I miss him. That’s why his picture is here.”
Baltimore has welcomed spring with the Flower Mart since 1911, with lemon sticks, crab cakes and ladies in hats. But by the late 1990s, the ages of the volunteers had increased and their energy had diminished and the event was in danger.
But Schaefer was determined to keep the event going as a sign of Baltimore’s civility and gentility and he forged a team to do it. Event host Tony Pagnotti called him “the grandfather of the Flower Mart” and opened the day with a moment of silence for Schaefer, who died last month.