To New Orleans with love.
That's the goal for Baltimoreans who gathered at the Inner Harbor today to send off the Super Bowl XLVII-bound Ravens to the Big Easy to face the San Francisco 49ers this weekend.
Thousands of fans descended on the area, some arriving as early as 7 a.m. Head coach John Harbaugh and resident superhero Ray Lewis -- among other players and coaches -- arrived to loud cheers
"There is no Ravens without you guys ... " Lewis, who will retire after the Super Bowl, told the crowd. "We love you, we love you, we love you. Baltimore, we love you."
Harbaugh called the turnout "awesome, awesome."
The players left the stage and gathered together, hands held high, as safety Ed Reed led his teammates and the crowd in a final cheer: "Baltimore."
By 11:30, the balconies around Harborplace were packed with people awaiting the team's arrival. Videos were playing of the AFC championship game and the locker room scene afterward. The Ravens mascot Poe was there to pump up the crowd.
Entertainment began at 6 a.m. at the Tir Na Nog restaurant with radio station 98Rock. At the amphitheater at 10:30 a.m., cover band Faded Image joined Ravens cheerleaders and Marching Ravens musicians.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Gov. Martin O'Malley also spoke to the crowd.
Meanwhile, in Washington, Maryland Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin offered to make a Super Bowl bet with their colleagues from California. In a letter, they said they would put up Faidley's crab cakes, Berger cookies and Heavy Seas beer; Mikulski said she would add a can of hairspray.
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