First Night Annapolis will welcome New Year with song, dance and story

November 30, 1994|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,Sun Staff Writer

Street corners, store windows, churches and even courtrooms in Annapolis' historic district will become stages for magicians, mimes, comedians and musicians on New Year's Eve when First Night Annapolis takes over the city.

Sponsors and coordinators of the performing arts extravaganza kicked off button sales for the annual event during a news conference yesterday at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Between bagpipe performances, organizers pitched the value of First Night's family atmosphere.

"Most New Year's Eve activities are forced fun," Ronald C. McGuirk, a member of the advisory board, said as three performers wearing brightly colored robes and white theatrical masks slowly glided through the room.

"First Night is family fun," said Mr. McGuirk, the senior vice president of First National Bank, a founding sponsor of the event.

Marshall Rickert, head of the state Motor Vehicle Administration, praised organizers' policy of banning alcohol and drugs at performance sites.

"Here is a family-oriented event that allows you to celebrate in a wholesome, healthy and safe fashion," he said.

"This is a wonderful example of how to have a good time and use our roads safely," he added.

State Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein urged people to "wear comfortable shoes and bring your families, bring your girlfriend and just have a good old time."

"It's a truly memorable experience for the thousands of families that participate. You won't be disappointed ," he said.

This year will be the fifth time First Night organizers have set up their live arts showcase in Annapolis.

It is patterned after a program that was introduced in Boston in 1976 and has spread to more than 120 North American cities.

First Night Annapolis typically attracts about 10,000 people from as far away as New York and North Carolina, but 20,000 people turned out on an unseasonably warm New Year's Eve 1992.

For the price of a First Night button -- $10 before Dec. 15 and $13 afterward -- visitors can enjoy the blues melodies of guitarist John Jackson, the classical piano of Angelin Chang, the dramatic storytelling of Mary Carter Smith, the ice dancing of the Ice Theatre of New York and maybe a magic trick or two.

"We have it from Bach to rock," said volunteer coordinator Vira Schoenfeld.

The performances are set up at 46 locations in downtown Annapolis in half-hour or 45-minute segments.

Children under 6 are admitted free to the children's performances, which begin at 3 p.m.

All other performances begin at 6 p.m.

Children under 2 are admitted free.

Street performers will set up shop at various sites until the evening culminates in a fireworks display at City Dock at midnight.

Parking is free at the Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and at state parking lots on Rowe Boulevard.

Free shuttle buses will provide service to and from parking lots and between performance sites.

Buttons are on sale in advance at most Giant Food stores, all First National Bank locations, and at Fawcett Boat Supplies and the Cheese Connection in Annapolis.

Tickets also can be purchased in Annapolis the night of the event.

For more information, call the First Nightline at 787-2717.

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