Although a joyous occasion for thousands, the visit of Pope John Paul II to Washington this weekend came like rain on a parade for a variety of nonreligious events in the area.
Some promoters attributed the thinner-than-usual crowds at the 13th annual Fell's Point Festival in Baltimore's old Polish waterfront community to the Washington visit of the first Polist pontiff. Others blamed the Baltimore Orioles' pennant playoff game that was televised from California.
One vendor proffering papal memorabilia muttered, "I guess I'm just in wrong place."
The papal visit caused postponement of the "Incredible Junk Sale," a fund-raising benefit for the New Playwrights' Theatre. The sale was rescheduled for next weekend.
"We weren't afraid the pope would draw people away," said Maryanne Karinch, managing director fo the theater. "We didn't think they could get close enough to the theater to pick up their purchases." The theater is at 1742 Church St. NW.
According to some reports, the pope's Washington tour neutralized beautiful boat-viewing weather at the annual United States Power Boat Show in Annapolis. Harbor officials in Annapolis noticed a "sharp drop' in attendance, but the show's promoters insisted that exhibition crowds were bigger than ever, although they refused to release attendance figures.
"Your boat people are not involved in land-type activity," said the show's press liaison, Les Trott, when asked the effect of the pope's visit on attendance. "They're orienting toward water regardless of who is visiting."
An event the pope's visit didn't backfire on was the Maryland Academy of Science's boomerang throwing contest in Baltimore. There were reports that 100,000 people from Baltimore went to Washington Saturday to see John Paul, but at least 100 stayed for the throwing.
Crowds also were thick at the Smithsonian Insitution's Air and Space Museum. "The shop is crowded," said one attendant. "I's been crowded all day. I can't talk to you right now, I'm very busy."
The museum may be more difficult to reach when the pope says mass on the nearby Mall today.