Naval Academy adds security precautions for graduation week

May 17, 2002|By Ariel Sabar | Ariel Sabar,SUN STAFF

Annapolis will brim with military parades, concerts and air shows next week as thousands of people descend on the state capital for the Naval Academy graduation.

Fears about terrorism have led to tighter security at the campus gates, but the public will still have ample opportunity to participate in the week of pageantry leading up to Friday's graduation ceremony.

Visitors will be permitted to walk onto academy grounds to watch a raft of shows and rituals, from crisp dress parades to the annual rite of passage that has freshmen climbing a lard-slathered obelisk.

As in years past, Friday's graduation ceremony at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium is open only to students, staff members and their guests. Vice President Dick Cheney is to give the commencement speech, something President Bush did last year.

The public can watch live coverage of the graduation on Comcast Cable's Channel 8.

New campus security measures this year include a ban on automobiles other than those with Department of Defense or handicapped stickers. And guards will ask pedestrians to show identification at the academy gates.

Hoping to avert traffic jams and parking crunches near the academy, the school urges visitors to park at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and use a free shuttle, which will run at 30-minute intervals from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Here is a list of events open to the public:

Sunday

8 p.m., Mahan Auditorium. The Women's Glee Club performs its 25th anniversary concert. Tickets are $9 and $12.

Monday

11 a.m., Worden Field. Midshipmen march in the Dedication Parade, a dress parade honoring longtime faculty.

12:15 p.m., Zimmerman Bandstand. The Trident Brass Band performs. Free.

1 p.m., at Tecumseh Court: The Pipes & Drums play. Free.

2 p.m., Herndon Monument. Freshman attempt to scale a 21-foot granite obelisk, slicked with 200 pounds of lard, in one of the academy's most visceral rites of passage.

8 p.m., Mahan Auditorium. The Men's Glee Club performs Broadway, patriotic, and religious numbers. Tickets sold out earlier this week.

Tuesday

11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Blue Angels - a performing team of six Navy F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets - arrive over Annapolis and rehearse their Wednesday air show.

4:30 p.m., Mahan Auditorium. The school's Masqueraders theater troupe presents Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound, a parody of the British murder mystery. Tickets are $6.

8 p.m., Mahan Auditorium. The Men's and Women's Glee Clubs make a joint appearance. Tickets are $9 and $12.

Wednesday

2 p.m., Severn River. The day's big moment is the Blue Angels air show, a display of high-speed aerial acrobatics and precision formation flying.

During the flights Tuesday and Wednesday, the Naval Academy bridge will be closed to autos and pedestrians, portions of the Severn River will be closed to boaters, and the Naval Academy gates will be shut to all but academy residents, people in handicapped vehicles and shuttle buses. But good views of the Angels can be had from Ingram Field, portions of Farragut Field, and the terraces of the Chauvenet, Rickover and Michelson halls.

4 p.m., Main Chapel. Chapel organist Monte Maxwell performs. Free.

6 p.m., Mahan Auditorium. The Gospel Choir performs its commissioning week concert. Tickets are $10.

Thursday

11 a.m., Worden Field. It's the Color Parade, and all 4,000 midshipmen march in 30 companies. Flags, or colors, are presented to the company with the highest marks in academics and athletics.

12:15 p.m., Tecumseh Court. The Silent Drill Team performs. Free.

1 p.m., Tecumseh Court. The Drum and Bugle Corps plays. Free.

Friday

10 a.m., Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Seniors graduate, in an elaborate, two-hour ceremony in which they are given diplomas and a Navy ensign's shoulder boards or the gold bars of a Marine 2nd lieutenant. The Blue Angels will fly by at 10:05 a.m.

Graduation ceremonies are open only to academy staff members, midshipmen and their guests. Parking at the stadium is $5.

If the weather is inclement, the ceremony will move to Alumni Hall.

Comcast Cable's Channel 8 will telecast the event live to households in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County.

From 9:15 a.m. to 10 a.m., Comcast will run a first "pre-show" of highlights from the preceding week, including the Herndon climb and the Blue Angels show.

"This was just a way to make it a little more interesting for the viewers," says Michael Liskey, lead videographer in the academy's multimedia support center.

Comcast will replay the pre-show and the graduation at 7 p.m., a spokesman for the cable company said.

Information: www.usna.edu or 410-293-1000, and press 3. Tickets: 410-293-8497. To find out if an event has been canceled: 410-293-3109.

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