Olympics: Phelps’ hometown planning big welcome
BALTIMORE ó About 1,000 people in Michael Phelps’ hometown celebrated with a “Phelpstival” four years ago when he brought back six gold medals and two bronzes from the Athens Olympics.
Officials are thinking expansion now that Phelps’ latest eight-medal haul is all gold ó a record ó and he is the winningest Olympian of all time with 16 medals.
A parade, keys to suburban Baltimore County and a street renamed for him ó staples of the 2004 celebration ó somehow just don’t seem like enough this time around.
“He’s so big and so global now, I’m sure we’ll try to top it,” Marjorie Hampson, a county spokeswoman, said Monday.
Hampson said county officials originally envisioned a post-Beijing parade that could end at Towson University’s 11,000-seat football stadium, named for late Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas.
Problem is, about that many stayed late Saturday at Baltimore’s NFL stadium after the Ravens played Minnesota so they could watch on the big screen as Phelps broke Mark Spitz’s 36-year-old record of seven golds in one Olympics.
“We had hoped to have it end at Johnny Unitas Stadium, but that may not cut it,” Hampson said.
There’s no date for the welcome-home celebration, but Hampson said it could be held over Labor Day weekend.