“The baby has been born,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said at the Aug. 26 opening celebration of Baltimore’s brand new Horseshoe Casino. “We can pass around the cigars.”
Mayor Rawlings-Blake, Gov. Martin O’Malley, Rep. Elijah Cummings, State Senate President Mike Miller, and even celebrity food chef Guy Fieri were among hundreds of VIPs who were on-hand at a glittery party to celebrate the event.
Before the official speeches, guests were treated to music from a live band, ate hors d’oeuvres, had drinks poured by costumed performers and even witnessed people dancing while suspended from the top of the building.
“The opening of this casino is a bold statement about the vitality of our downtown and I believe it will be a springboard for growth in this area,” she said.
The mayor also thanked the city and state officials who she said moved heaven and earth to make the casino a reality. She also touted an intensive employment push, including a workshop program called Horseshoe Legendary Academy that helped participants learn what to do to ace the employment seeding process. She said that nearly 2,700 city residents participated in the workshops and 1,900 earned special hiring consideration at the casino. She said that a total of 1,251 Baltimore city residentswere hired at the casino.
“You’ll know them. You’ll be able to tell. They will be the ones with the extra-wide smiles,” she said.
Gov. O’Malley also highlighted the jobs Horseshoe brought to the area.
“So far, there have been 5,000 people employed, building terrific facilities including this one that you are about to see,” he said. “There are now 5,500 people who are employed here at Caesers and at other locations because of this effort. It was not easy to get this done, to get this built, to do it on time, to do it on budget.”
But the highlight of the evening for most was well known R&B legend, Gladys Knight, whose appearance elicited oohs, ahs and screams of delight. Members of the crowd expressed their extreme pleasure and surprise since they hadn’t known she’d be there. And no one was disappointed. They swayed in sync as she performed a good collection of her greatest hits.
While VIPs celebrated outside, members of the general public began gathering for the 9 p.m. opening as early as 5:30. As the night went on, there were reports that some people had to wait in line for an hour or longer to get in.
“Thank you to everyone waiting so patiently, we have reached capacity but are working efficiently and diligently to get people in quickly,” the casino’s twitter account tweeted a little after 10 p.m.