Maryland starts official celebration for counting down to the millennium

September 03, 1998|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

Maryland's countdown to the millennium began yesterday with drum rolls, trumpet blasts and a big Oriole Bird smooch on former Gov. William Donald Schaefer's head as a digital clock ticked away the remaining seconds to 2000.

With 485 days, 11 hours, three minutes and 29 seconds left until the big date, state officials unveiled Celebration 2000 plans, a temporary 9-foot clock placed in front of the State House in Annapolis and an as-yet-unnamed female mascot dressed in a tunic and star-spangled top hat.

The state will sponsor millennium events involving the arts, education, the environment, historic preservation and, naturally, New Year's Eve celebrations across Maryland.

"It's really something really great," said Schaefer, chairman of the state Commission for Celebration 2000 and candidate for state comptroller, as he delighted a small crowd of onlookers by eliciting impromptu drum rolls from members of the Annapolis High School band.

Maryland is one of only three states -- Washington and Indiana are the others -- with millennium committees. It was set up by Gov. Parris N. Glendening a year ago.

Not including private money, the state will spend about $2.5 million on the celebration.

As for the Millennium Miss, yesterday was a one-day gig for Kessler Burnett, 28, of Annapolis, who was roped into playing the part by her mother, commission executive director Louise Hayman.

"Black tights in September," Burnett sighed. "All I'm thinking about is a swimming pool."

The commission is holding a 30-day contest to name the millennial mascot. Anyone interested in submitting an entry should visit the commission's Web site at www.maryland2000.org or call 877-MD2-0001.

Pub Date: 9/03/98

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