- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 7, 2001

BALTIMORE Some bars have Super Bowl parties, but last night the Ropewalk Tavern in the city's Federal Hill area hosted an even more partisan celebration: a birthday party for former President Ronald Reagan.
The bar's owner, 29-year-old Mark McFaul, invited Republicans from around the state to join him and his crew to celebrate the 90th birthday of the former president, whom Mr. McFaul calls his hero.
"Reagan was the most genuine president I've known," Mr. McFaul said as he sat next to a white sheet cake bearing a color photograph of Mr. Reagan and "Happy 90th Ronnie" written in blue icing.
"He's just a hero of mine, a legend really," Mr. McFaul added. "He's my idol."
Last night's bash was not the first time Mr. McFaul and his brother and co-owner, William, have toasted the former president. The brothers have been hosting birthday parties for Mr. Reagan since he turned 85 in 1996.
The parties have packed the bar to its fullest. Some 100 people turned out to honor Mr. Reagan at his birthday party last year, Mr. McFaul said.
Each year, Mr. McFaul hands out jelly beans, Mr. Reagan's favorite candy, to patrons and offers steamed shrimp cooked in Irish stout, the former president's favorite drink.
At 7 p.m., the entire bar breaks out into its own rendition of "Happy Birthday" and toasts Mr. Reagan.
"It's like a holiday for me," Mr. McFaul said. "It's fun, but I do it because I truly admire the man."
Most of Mr. McFaul's patrons respect the young man's reverence for the former president. Some, like contractor Joseph Laciny, share it.
"It's great to come to a place that celebrates Ronald Reagan," Mr. Laciny said as he stopped to visit the pub on South Charles Street. "He's a political icon."
Mr. McFaul's bartender, Jim Roberts, said he admires his boss for his honesty. "Mark's just a great person, and he's the most honest person I know," Mr. Roberts said. "I admire Mark for his unwavering loyalty to a president like Reagan."
Mr. McFaul wasn't even of voting age when Mr. Reagan was president in the 1980s. But Mr. McFaul, who graduated from Towson State University in 1994, says he always admired Mr. Reagan because he cut taxes and had respect for his office.
"He cared about the people," Mr. McFaul explained. "He was the kind of person who if he believed in something he would follow it. And he took responsibility for his actions. He admitted when he was wrong."
Just how deep is Mr. McFaul's admiration for the former president?
For starters, Mr. McFaul keeps a lighted bust of Mr. Reagan centered on the bar top. He also has a smaller bronze bust of the former president that sits behind the bar, near a red, white and blue bumper sticker that reads, "My President is George W. Bush but I miss President Reagan."
"People are going to think I'm insane," Mr. McFaul says, smiling.
For his birthday last year, Mr. McFaul's fiancee Anne Dimino gave him the present of his dreams: a trip to Simi Valley, Calif., to see the Ronald Reagan Library. He spent about $600 on Reagan memorabilia.
"It was great," Mr. McFaul remembered.
At home, Mr. McFaul has about 30 books written about Mr. Reagan and hundreds more that merely mention the former president's name. He also owns just about every movie in which Mr. Reagan acted before he turned to politics.
He has a 7-year-old Rottweiler named Nixon Von Reagan. "I'm saving the name Reagan possibly for a child of my own," Mr. McFaul said, before breaking into laughter.
Then, there are the stacks of photographs, color and black and white, that he has collected over the years. But one stands out that means the most to him. It's an autographed picture of Mr. Reagan and his wife, Nancy, that their son Michael Reagan sent to Mr. McFaul last Christmas.
"That one I keep in my family room," Mr. McFaul added.

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