Baltimore rang in its bicentennial year last night with revelry, singing, dancing and prayer, capped by an Inner Harbor fireworks spectacle.
"Oh, we're going to party tonight!" yelled Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke at the Harborplace Amphitheatre, just before he counted down the final 10 seconds to midnight.
Then, fireworks erupted from two barges and from the tops of the World Trade Center, the Maryland Science Center and Federal Hill against the backdrop of a luminous half-moon hanging low over East Baltimore.
It was a bitterly cold night as the mercury dropped to the low 30s, a stark contrast to the relatively balmy temperatures Baltimore enjoyed at year's end.
Pat Mandris of Linthicum and Amy Imirie of Shady Side huddled under an Orioles blanket as they watched the fireworks on a bench outside of Phillips Harborplace restaurant, where they had just had dinner with two other friends.
"We're freezing to death!" moaned Mandris. "We're having a great time," added Imirie with a chuckle.
Some watched the fireworks in style.
John DiGiorgio of Pasadena, his wife, Sherry, and their 7-year-old son, Justin, partied with about 20 friends from the White Rocks Yacht Club on four boats tied up together in the Inner Harbor in front of the Light Street Pavilion. Aboard the "Justin Time" -- DiGiorgio's boat that was decked out with Christmas lights -- shrimp, mussels, clams and crayfish were being steamed for a feast.
"We got down here at 2 [Monday] just to make sure we got this spot," DiGiorgio said.
Across the harbor, members of the Marley Boat Club had their own party under way. Allan Webb, the club's vice commodore, showed off the club's boats that won prizes this year for their Christmas decorations.
He gave a friendly nod to efforts of his friends across the harbor. "It's easier to decorate a small boat," Webb said with a mischievous smile.
hTC At the Baltimore Convention Center, there was a line of thousands of people waiting to enter the alcohol-free celebration there. Julie and Rick Counselman of Sykesville brought their sons, Richie, 13, and Drew, 10, to join the festivities.
"We wanted to be with the kids this year," Julie Counselman said. "Drinking didn't matter. Partying didn't matter."
It was a quieter scene at St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church, where luminarias -- candles in paper bags -- lined the front steps in the 700 block of N. Calvert St. Inside, some of the city's religious leaders, representing Christians, Jews and Muslims, gathered for an interfaith prayer service.
The members of the Elderhostel program, sponsored by Baltimore Hebrew University, gathered at the Mount Vernon Hotel for an evening of folk dancing. Evelyn Epstein of Marlboro, N.J., who was attending the weeklong seminar with her husband, Max, said the evening was just right.
"You're obligated sometimes to do something you're not so happy about," she said. "But this is a delightful, absolutely relaxing" way to bring in the new year.
In Annapolis, the place to be was Main Street for First Night Annapolis. The Hotts and the Zindorfs from Arnold busily calculated which of the 200 performances they would take in.
"Oh, we're definitely hitting the Ice Theatre of New York at the U.S. Naval Academy first," said Jean Hott, accompanied by her husband, Mike, brother Joe Zindorf, and his wife, Karen. "After that, who knows?"
Chelsea and Audrey Price delightfully screamed their heads off as a giant, puffy, fluorescent pink fish head walked by. "Aaaaahhhhhh! He looks so funny!," said Chelsea, 6, laughing hysterically as her sister, Audrey, 2, mimicked her. Unfortunately, the girls were on their way home to Ellicott City with their parents, Bill and Michelle Price. The temperature was just a little too cold for the girls.
"We came to First Night when we were first married," said Michelle Price. "And if the girls weren't just getting over being sick, we'd probably stay. It looks like so much fun."
Pub Date: 1/01/97