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MAR-APR 2017

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selecttraveler.com 33 M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 7 scary experience that they won't soon forget. Guides tell stories about the animals and explain the complexities behind running one of the country's most popular aquariums. "You get to see the filtration and the plumbing of the entire aquar- ium," said Eric Masterton, director of group sales for Visit Baltimore. "You can hear the hums of the process and see a side of the aquarium that is usually not open to the public." Visitors glimpse the inner workings behind some of the aquari- um's main exhibits, such as "Australia: Wild Extremes." There groups watch the spotted archer fish attempt to snag a cricket meal by spit- ting a little stream of water. Groups can choose from other exclusive tours of the aquarium, such as the Dolphins Explorer; the Animal Care Experience; the Sharks Be- hind-the-Scenes Tour; and the Icky, Creepy, Slimy, Cool Tour. FLAG TALK F O R T M C H E N R Y N A T I O N A L M O N U M E N T A N D H I S T O R I C S H R I N E "By the dawn's early light" Francis Scott Key beheld the impos- ing 30-by-42-foot Star-Spangled Banner flag above Fort McHenry in 1814. The author felt a rush of emotion when he saw the flag and knew U.S. soldiers had successfully defended the fort, compelling him to pen the poem that became the country's national anthem. Today, groups can experience a similar patriotic pride during the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine's Flag Talk. Rangers lead groups of up to 100 people in the unrolling of a full-size replica of the flag that flew on the site 200 years ago. "It's remarkable for people to see the size of this flag because the stars are huge," said Masterton. "I've never known anyone who's ever done it who hasn't talked about it all the time. It really has an emo- tional connection with our country's history." Participants learn about the history of the 15-star, 15-stripe flag while working together to unroll it. The 45-minute program also ex- plains the words of the national anthem so groups will learn the true meaning behind the lyrics. A trip to Fort McHenry also reveals its vital role in the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812, when American troops stopped a British invasion. The site also features guided walks, cannon demon- strations and a museum with more than 54,000 artifacts. NEAPOLITAN PIZZA-MAKING V E R D E Not every recipe requires ingredients as specific as tomatoes picked from the volcanic plains of Mount Vesuvius and mozzarella made with milk from Italy's semiwild water buffalo. But authentic Neapolitan pizza calls for traditional cooking methods for a reason — deliciousness that can't be replicated. Verde, an acclaimed Neapolitan pizza restaurant, teaches groups the art of this method during its Neapolitan Pizza Making workshop. Groups tour the restaurant and learn the back story of the famous pizza as they chow down. "The great thing about Verde is that it's a family pizza restaurant," said Masterton. "The father and son are the ones that conduct the experience. They explain the historical background of Neapolitan pizza in America and what makes it really good. Groups get to ask questions about the cooking process." The one-hour experience invites participants to feel fresh, fluffy dough; sample warm mozzarella; and taste at least three different pizza varieties. The laid-back demonstration includes wine or beer with homemade tiramisu for a finale. TRAVEL BACK IN TIME WITH MS. MASIE R E G I N A L D F . L E W I S M U S E U M The hardships endured in Maryland's Jim Crow era become more real to visitors during the Reginald F. Lewis Museum's program Travel Back in Time With Ms. Masie. The dramatic interpretation follows Ms. Masie, an African-American who owns a hat store during segregation. "Ms. Masie talks about what's happening in her life at that moment by going through the things in her store and answering questions," said Masterton. "It's about living in Jim Crow Maryland and the plight of men and women during that time. She makes such an amazing connection with the people in the group with her." Participants listen to Baltimore's jazz legends like Chick Webb while they see glimpses of Baltimore's Pennsylvania Avenue during the 1950s. Ms. Masie explains the process of desegregating pub- lic education while leading groups through a re-created one-room schoolhouse. Through stories, guests learn of prominent African-Americans striving for equal rights in Baltimore. The 75-minute experience can also feature an add-on question-and-answer session with the actor or an educational session on the museum's hat collection. Groups can also combine the interpretive tour with lunch at the museum's cafe. The 82,000-square-foot museum doesn't focus only on segrega- tion; visitors also learn about the state's African-American history and culture with interactive exhibits and an art gallery. www.baltimore.org Verde pizza-making class

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