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Ocean City, Md., was painted purple this weekend for the annual Ravens Roost Convention.
Celebrating a theme of “The Fan Club That Would Not Die,” nearly 1,400 official fan club members descended on the beach for the 46th festival in the group’s history.
And ever since the club changed its name from the Colts Corrals to Ravens Roosts, the Ravens players again joined the fun.
Cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and K.J. Gerard, linebackers William VanDeSteeg and Sergio Kindle, running back Matt Lawrence, wideouts Chris Hannon and Marcus Smith, nose tackle Kelly Talavou and offensive linemen Digger Bujnoch and Daniel Sanders were this year’s group of guys who enthusiastically mingled with the people cheering them on Sundays.
“This is great, and we’re having a lot of fun,” said Webb during Friday’s introduction, acting as the team spokesman to the frenzied audience. “These fans are the best, and we just are thankful to be here.”
All ten players were first-time participants in the events, the biggest of which was a parade – which ran from 19th to 26th Streets – Saturday morning.
Each Raven sat on the back of a convertible and interacted with the crowd, signing autographs and taking pictures along the route.
In between, several cheerleading teams, bands and Ravens Roosts made their way past a throng of fans lining the sidewalks (which grew to an estimated 5,000 revelers).
After the parade, players joined in volleyball games and mingled with fans around the Castle in the San Hotel, which served as the convention’s headquarters.
“It’s amazing how these players come down here every year and really reach out,” said Sue Draper, a member of Pasadena’s Roost 65, the Council of Ravens Roosts recording secretary and Convention Chairman. “Last year, they got in the dunk tank, they chatted with the fans and they really seemed to have a good time. I know the fans really appreciate it.”
Several Roosts were very creative in their parade floats, which followed the convention’s slogan.
“The Fan Club That Would Not Die” is a spin off the recent ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, “The Band That Wouldn’t Die.” Created by Baltimore native Barry Levinson, the movie chronicled the Baltimore Colts Marching Band, which played on despite the Colts’ move to Indianapolis in 1984. The Colts Band eventually became the Baltimore Marching Ravens.
Likewise, the Roosts were once supporters of the Colts, and continued to support Baltimore football in the USFL’s Stars, the CFL’s Stallions, and eventually the Ravens.
“The Roosts always stayed active as fans of the game, in addition to our charitable endeavors,” Draper said. “This was a way to celebrate that resiliency.”
As such, the convention is keeping community service at the forefront, as well. According to Draper, any profits will be donated. Last year, the Council of Ravens Roosts made a contribution to the Ravens’ All Community Team and gave money to each player who attended to earmark for a charity of choice.
In the end, the Ravens’ fandom was somewhat surprising, even to those who have heard the screaming voices on gameday at M&T Bank Stadium.
“It’s pretty incredible how big this is,” Lawrence said of the convention. “I knew Ravens fans were crazy on gameday, but it’s great how you can meet them one-on-one. On the field, you don’t get to do that.”