The annual spectacle and pageantry of Commissioning Week has begun in Annapolis, where music, marching, the roar of jet planes and a presidential speech will highlight commencement activities for the Naval Academy's thousand-strong Class of 2001.
The most public of the events will be a series of parades and concerts - and the arrival, rehearsal and performance of the Navy's Blue Angels precision flight team in the skies over the state capital.
Among the least public will be the commencement itself, an invitation-only event at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium where President Bush will deliver the address. However, one of the county's cable television providers, Comcast, has announced that it will televise the ceremony live on its Channel 8 in cooperation with the Naval Academy.
Events open to the public include the following:
The Dedication Parade at 11 a.m. tomorrow on Worden Field, an event that honors the academy faculty. It will be followed by performances - a Trident Brass concert at 12:15 p.m. at the Zimmerman Bandstand and the academy's Pipes & Drums from 1 p.m. to 1:20 p.m. at T-Court in front of Bancroft Hall.
The Plebe Recognition Ceremony, including the famous climb of the heavily greased Herndon Monument, at 2 p.m. tomorrow.
The planes - with six Navy F/A-18 Hornet Blue Angels jets in circling and arrival moves between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tuesday. Subject to weather-related cancellation, the pilots are scheduled for airborne rehearsal and performance from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday over the Severn River. Suggested vantage points include Ingram Field, portions of Farragut Field, Hospital Point and the terraces of Rickover Hall and Nimitz Library.
Theatrical performances at 2 p.m. Tuesday and 7 p.m. Wednesday as the academy's Masqueraders troupe presents "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare" in Mahan Hall. Tickets may be purchased at the door.
More music Wednesday: the Naval Academy Band's Electric Brigade at 1 p.m. on Ingram Field and an organ concert at 4 p.m. in the main chapel.
The Color Parade at 11 a.m. Thursday on Worden Field, featuring the 4,000-member student body marching in 30 companies - and presentation of flags, or colors, to the company that through excellence in a year of competition has won the right carry them until next May.
The invitation-only commissioning is scheduled for Friday and will include a Blue Angels graduation flyby at 10:05 a.m. over Navy-Marine Corps Stadium. In the event of inclement weather, the graduation ceremony will take place in the Alumni Hall auditorium. The telecast on Comcast Channel 8 will begin at 9:15 a.m., with the procession into the stadium.
The Naval Academy urges visitors to public events to arrive early, and notes that parking will not be available on its grounds. Paid parking is available at the stadium, with free shuttle service to the academy. Buses will operate on the half-hour between 7:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. tomorrow through Thursday, with stops at Hubbard Hall, Alumni Hall, the area near the Cutter Shed, the USNA Store, and Halsey Field House.
The academy gates will be closed during the Blue Angels rehearsal and flight demonstration.
Commissioning Week information is available by calling 410-293- 3109 or online at www.usna.edu.