Capital's 300th birthday kick-off nears

August 15, 1994|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Sun Staff Writer

On Sept. 16, the Maryland Dove will sail from St. Mary's City to Annapolis, kicking off a yearlong celebration of the city's 300th year as state capital.

During the year, Annapolis schoolchildren will write essays; historians will hold lectures; artists will sing, dance and dramatize the story of the capital; and city leaders will present plaques and proclamations.

Working behind the scenes is a cadre of hundreds of volunteers who will do everything from posting placards to selling soft drinks.

"If they did D-Day, we can do this," jokes Linnell Bowen, a former Annapolis High School history teacher and longtime community volunteer who the city hired to pull the celebration together.

She left her job as director of development at the Historic Annapolis Foundation, and started work on the Annapolis 300th anniversary celebration June 1.

Although the 300th anniversary celebration has been discussed for years, the real work didn't begin until this past winter. It was then that the state unveiled the logo designed by W. B. Doner & Co. advertising agency, and the city and county promised to contribute money to the celebration.

Since June, about 40 volunteers have met each Wednesday at the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau to share ideas and report on their progress.

"It's great to see such enthusiasm," said Tom Roskelly of the city's tourism office.

The group has been working to get corporate and civic sponsors. Ms. Bowen hopes to raise at least $50,000. That amount doesn't include hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donated services.

The goal is to give Annapolis a birthday party that will be for the most part free and open to the public.

The celebration begins with 10 days of events in September. The Dove will arrive at the City Dock Sept. 16, carrying an actor portraying Sir Francis Nicholson, the Maryland governor who moved the capital from St. Mary's City and designed the town plan of Annapolis.

He will walk to the State House where he will symbolically transfer the seat of government to Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

On Sept. 17, the celebration will continue with a parade.

The following weekend, called Heritage Weekend, a Colonial Fair with artisans and a variety of entertainment will be held at the City Dock. The Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival will be held at St. John's College. On the nights of Sept. 24 and 25, "1776" will be performed at St. John's College Auditorium.

Throughout the 10 days, there will be living history performances, special programs at local restaurants and taverns, and tours of Annapolis' historic houses.

The celebration will continue Feb. 28 with a ceremony honoring the first official meeting in Annapolis of the governor and General Assembly. Many of next year's events are still being planned.

"There have been 1,000 ideas," Ms. Bowen said.

These plans have included commemorative coins, murals at City Hall, boat rides and air balloons.

Civic organizations, businesses and professional groups are encouraged to develop their own events or help with those already planned.

"This is a true grass-roots kind of thing," Ms. Bowen said.

The most important point, she added, is to appreciate Annapolis and the many people who made its history, including the servant, slave and immigrant, as well as the planter and statesman.

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