First Night Annapolis admission buttons go on sale tomorrow

November 25, 1993|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

The countdown to First Night Annapolis, the capital city's fourth annual alcohol-free New Year's Eve celebration, begins tomorrow when lapel buttons go on sale at 100 Giant food stores through Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

The 2-inch diameter buttons, which depict the passage of time through the arts, are used to gain admission into more than 200 performances that take place around the city during the 10 hours leading up to the new year.

Last year, organizers sold about 16,000 buttons, but the balmy, 61-degree night drew about 30,000 pedestrians to Annapolis' historic district, forcing city police to close off Main Street and leading to complaints about long lines to view some events.

Elizabeth Welch, a co-organizer of First Night, said new performers and shows, including the Ice Theater of New York and a specially commissioned adaptation of African tribal music and poetry, have been booked this year to satisfy the growing crowds. But, she cautioned, "there will always be lines."

The First Night concept started in Boston 16 years ago and is now a fixture in 90 cities across the country.

It is designed to give families safe entertainment while showcasing area talent and the performing arts.

The city becomes a stage filled with dancers, singers, musicians, ice sculptors, skaters and street entertainers. Public buildings and stores open their doors to revelers and performers of every kind in the six hours leading up to a fireworks display in the Annapolis Harbor.

Patrons can purchase the admission buttons for $8 until Dec. 15, when the price jumps to $12. Button sales will stop Dec. 26 except in Anne Arundel County, where they may be purchased through Dec. 31.

In addition to most Giant food stores, buttons may be obtained at Fawcett's Boat Supplies at City Dock through Dec. 31 and at locations throughout the event. Children under 6 are admitted free.

Parking will be provided free at the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium off Rowe Boulevard. Shuttle service will transport visitors to the events downtown.

Officials estimated that last year's event cost the city about $12,000 for security, transportation and cleanup.

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