The first person seeking to get an Old Bay tattoo arrived outside the Baltimore Tattoo Museum at 4:45 a.m. on Tuesday even though the doors didn’t open until 11:00 a.m.
The early bird marshaled those who arrived after her counterclockwise around the block, so they didn’t block the entrance to the weed shop next to the museum. She was the first one in and the first one out of the Baltimore Tattoo Museum with her free Old Bay tattoo — a collaboration of the beloved Maryland spice brand and the tattoo museum in celebration of Preakness Week.
The museum partnered with McCormick and Company, Inc.’s Old Bay spice brand for the second time (the first was in 2019) to “make their love permanent with a unique Old Bay tattoo.”
Well over 200 hopefuls showed up eager for a free tattoo, some in the iconic old Bay colors, according to Cierra Colón, public relations manager for McCormick and Co., Inc. At one point, the line wrapped around the block down to Bank Street.
Only 45 people were able to get tattoos, but many hung tough throughout the day, with folks still standing outside the museum as late as 7:45 p.m. in the hopes of a cancellation or a spot miraculously opening up.
Colón said the clear front-runners for the day were the crab tattoo and the Black-eyed Susan tattoo, though there were a few people who got the crab mallets design.
Design options were unveiled Monday on Old Bay’s social media channels.
One group of six had been waiting since 8:30 a.m., going on ten hours by the time Baltimore Fishbowl caught up with them. They hadn’t left to get anything to eat for fear of losing their place in line, though some had come prepared with snacks. They were able to take short breaks and go for walks, giving the museum their information, but they didn’t wander too far. In the group, three were hoping to claw their way to a crab tattoo, two had their sights set on the Black-Eyed Susan, and one was getting the mallets.
The group members each heard about the free tattoo event from different sources: word of mouth, Facebook, Instagram, texts from friends.
When asked if they were there more for the Old Bay or the tattoo, again answers varied. Amy, from Pasadena, was clearly there for love of Old Bay, kitted out in Old Bay socks, shirt, and purse. James, from Annapolis said, “I’m here because it goes with my other Maryland tattoos.”
All but one in the group was born and raised in Maryland, though James now lives in Washington, D.C. He traveled from there just for the tattoo event, waking up before dawn to catch the MARC train and the City Link to get to the museum.
Only two of the group (Kit and Noah) entered to win Preakness tickets, having attended Preakness before. But the real draw for the group was the free Maryland-themed tattoo.
Dave was there getting his first tattoo in color, which is a slightly more painful process, but he was thrilled with the results.
Colón was not certain whether the event will become an annual tradition, but wouldn’t rule it out. They were definitely thrilled with the turnout and enthusiasm for this event.