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Maryland Historic Society Starts Competition To Find New "Poe Toaster"

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- He wrote his first horror story in Baltimore and he's buried here. Wendesday marks the anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's death.

Ron Matz reports on how the city plans to revive a tradition honoring Baltimore's most beloved literary son.

They come to pay tribute with a picture and his poetry. For years, a stranger would come to Poe's Baltimore gravesite in the middle of the night on his birthday and leave three roses and a bottle of French cognac.

"Apparently from the late 1940s, this man has been coming into the Westminster Graveyard on January 19th between midnight and 6 a.m. This man leaves three red roses and a half-filled bottle of French cognac---expensive French cognac---on the Poe monument," said Poe House Curator Emeritus Jeff Jerome. "Surprisingly in 2009 was his last visit and since then he's been a no show."

But that's going to change with a Poe Toaster competition November 7 at the Maryland Historical Society.

"The Maryland Historical Society is teaming up with Poe Baltimore, Westminster Hall and the Mesmeric Revelations of Edgar Allan Poe to create a new competition of sprots to name the next Poe Toaster for Baltimore," said Katie Caljean, Maryland Historical Society. "We're not looking for somebody to replace the toaster or try to do exactly what the toaster used to do; we're looking for a new spin on the tradition to celebrate and honor the past and our dear friend, Edgar."

"They are not going to duplicate the new Poe Toaster. This person will not be coming here in the middle of the night and climbing over the fence. This will be a public event for Baltimore to celebrate and any time Edgar Allan Poe is celebrated is good with me," Jerome said. "This Saturday, we are doing a tribute to Poe's death. We'll have actors in costume reading Poe's stories; we'll even have a special Poe death cake. This is just fantastic; it never lets up."

A tribute that promises to bring a different kind of toaster to Baltimore.

"This is a celebration of a tradition with a new twist: we're encouraging people to submit applications to audition to become the next Poe Toaster. We'll be accepting 10-12 finalists to perform November 7 at the Maryland Historical Society," said Caljean. "We'll have a panel of three celebrity judges to comment on the performances but ultimately the audience, the people of Baltimore, will decide who the next Poe Toaster will be."

The new Poe Toaster will get to perform their toast at the gravesite on Poe's birthday and also make other appearances around the city.

There's a tribute to Poe Saturday at 3:30 at the Westminster Hall and Graveyard.

For details on how to enter, click here.

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