Year of celebration to honor settlement's 350th anniversary Anne Arundel County and Annapolis prepare tours, parades, pageants

September 10, 1998|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Any excuse for a party, right? Annapolis and Anne Arundel County went back 350 years to find this excuse -- the founding in 1649 of Greenbury Point, the first European settlement on the Severn River.

City and county officials have planned a year's worth of tours, parades, pageants, re-enactments and lectures, all under the name Celebrate 350 Annapolis and Anne Arundel, to commemorate the settlement at what now is the Naval Surface Warfare Center and events that have occurred since.

"The purpose of this program is to bring this era alive," said Jeff Holland, who is coordinating the events. "When a lot of people think of our history, they think of the Revolutionary period when Annapolis was very active and instrumental. Our roots really go back to the earliest dawn of immigration to America."

Organizers will begin promoting the events at 7 p.m. Saturday with a gala on the roof of the Noah Hillman parking garage, where Holland will reveal more details about the celebration, which begins and ends on successive New Year's Eves with First Night Annapolis.

County Executive John G. Gary and Annapolis Mayor Dean L. Johnson are expected among the partygoers for an under-the-stars dinner and dance with nearly two dozen caterers offering hors d'oeuvres and two bands -- the Crabtowne Big Band and Them Eastport Oyster Boys -- performing. Prizes donated by area businesses will go to the best-dressed guests. Participants can choose costumes from any period over the past 350 years.

Pushing awareness

"I think you're going to see a real mix of people coming to celebrate the event and others who want to really get into the spirit of things," said county historian Donna Ware, a member of the Celebrate 350 steering committee.

The party is aimed at "getting the public aware that this event is being initiated for 1999," she said. "It's a really important step, just before we turn to the new millennium that we look back at the development of this county and its impact in Maryland."

According to historical accounts, Puritans from Virginia moved to Maryland by invitation from the second Lord Baltimore, Cecil Calvert, who hoped they would sign an oath of allegiance to him and help him stabilize control over the colony.

The new settlers landed at Greenbury Point in December 1649 hTC and began tobacco farming, calling their settlement Providence. Less than a year later, Baltimore granted Anne Arundel County its charter, naming it after his wife, the Lady Anne Arundel.

By 1694, the population had shifted across the river to an area settlers called Arundelton. Gov. Francis Nicholson moved the capital from St. Mary's City to the more central location, renaming it Annapolis after Princess Anne, who later became queen and granted Annapolis its charter.

Passport and prizes

Events scheduled next year include a lecture series at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis and the Passport to History program to encourage visits to historic sites.

A passport highlighting more than a dozen sites throughout the county will be distributed through schools, visitors centers and outlets. Visitors to the sites will have their pages stamped. Passport holders who visit every site will be eligible for prizes and drawings.

"We want to reach out to as many people as we can," he said. "This is for we who live here to discover some of the really special things that have happened here over the last 350 years."

Tickets to the rooftop gala are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Parking is available at Gotts Court parking garage with free shuttle service to the Hillman garage. Information: 410-222-1086.

Pub Date: 9/10/98

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