Volunteer helps Eastport revel in its independence


January 24, 2000|By Douglas Lamborne | Douglas Lamborne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

FOLKS IN the volunteer crowd know fresh blood when they see it. When Laura Townsend inquired several months ago about, you know, maybe helping out a little bit, the honchos of the Maritime Republic of Eastport wasted little time bringing her on board.

In fact, they installed her as "deputy minister of propaganda" and declared her the chairwoman for MRE's "Independence Weekend," taking place Friday and Saturday.

The Maritime Republic of Eastport was founded in 1997 as a means to boost commerce for Eastport businesses affected by an impending repair-work closure of the Spa Creek Bridge connecting the Eastport peninsula with downtown Annapolis.

That closure was marked with an Independence Day -- separation from Annapolis -- complete with booming cannons, crackling muskets and lots of speechifying.

A cottage industry ensued, to include pub crawls, T-shirt sales and a tug of war (with a 1,700-foot rope) across Spa Creek. Proceeds from the various projects went to charity.

Townsend, then a resident of Annapolis (not the Eastport part of Annapolis), went to the first tug of war to see what the fuss was all about.

"It intrigued me enough to show up as a spectator," she said. "They were a little crazy, like me."

She moved with her two boys last summer to Eastport, sort of. "I'm barely in Eastport," she confessed. Her new residence is just outside the political boundary of Ward 8. "But they allowed me to become a member."

Of course they did. And they made her a chairwoman, overseeing a variety of committees, getting tickets printed, making endless rounds of phone calls, even submitting to interviews.

"I'm getting a tremendous response," she said, "and everything seems on track. Parts of this seem to be coming together on their own. But still, you'd like to do something a little different, and I hope to have a couple of new, quirky things.

"I really don't want to micromanage it too much. I mean, the point of all this is just to have fun."

Townsend will oversee a program that begins Friday with the "Ambassador's Ball." The program starts at 6 p.m. at the Eastport Clipper Cantina and includes Them Eastport Oyster Boys, the Eastport Chamberpot Orchestra and Eastport Crabernacle Choir.

The Kenny Jones R&B Band, described as a Blues Brothers-like ensemble, will follow.

Tickets are $15, and are available from the Clipper at Sixth Street and Severn Avenue and Eastport Copy at 419 Fourth St.

Festivities resume at noon Saturday with the "0.5K Eastport Bridge Walk/Run." Townsend describes this event as a "spoof of a race." Registration starts at 11 a.m. at Eastport Elementary School and requires a $15 entry fee. The event, which comes complete with a refreshment stand at the midway point, seems to last as long as a sneeze.

The run will conclude with a fusillade of gunfire from a gaggle of re-enactors from the English Civil War, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and, the news release says, the "Late War of Northern Aggression."

Attention then returns to Eastport Elementary for "Eastport Dog Day Afternoon," sort of a dog show that seems to involve herds of retrievers in a variety of events -- "Astounding Dog Owner Tricks," "Dog and Owner Look-a-Like" and "Best Dog Costume." There's another entry fee here, too, which varies, depending on what event is signed up for. "But," Townsend reminds us, "after the expenses are paid, all profits go to charity."

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