City plans First Night celebration for families

2005: The capital welcomes the New Year with the alcohol-free event.


December 30, 2004|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

A local swing-funk band, salsa dancers, a parade of bagpipers, a slam poet and the Kenya Safari Acrobats are among the varied attractions at First Night Annapolis, the city's family-oriented New Year's Eve celebration that marks its 15th anniversary tomorrow night.

The alcohol-free event is a mix of old-fashioned and newfangled fun, said Robert Keil, executive director of First Night Annapolis Inc., a nonprofit arts organization that stages what adds up to a city street party of 20,000 people every year.

The extravaganza of singing, dancing, classical chamber music, face-painting and street theater is meant to engage all types of people, he said. It culminates with fireworks at City Dock.

"We gather them all in," Keil said. "The demographic doesn't matter, from the babe in arms to families with kids to the 89-year-old grandmother. It's a celebration of community by connecting people through the arts."

More than 40 sites in the downtown area, most within walking distance or accessible by a free bus, will play host to about 60 performance and arts activities.

Keil, a special events planner who took the helm in May, is orchestrating his first First Night Annapolis, an annual affair that took hold in the state capital 15 years ago. Similar First Night gatherings are held in Boston, Atlanta, and nearly 150 towns and cities in the United States.

City officials said the Visitors Center will be open tomorrow night to sell tickets and direct people, who are expected from Baltimore, the Eastern Shore, Washington and elsewhere. Admission buttons are $15 for adults, and $10 for children ages 6 to 12. Children 5 and younger are admitted free.

Other Annapolis sites, such as St. John's College campus and the town's schools, churches, galleries and restaurants, are also slated to hold activities or stay open later than usual. Parking and continuous shuttle bus service is provided at the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium for a flat fee of $10.

Afternoon activities for children begin at 3 p.m. in Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. There will be a flea circus featuring a man being shot out of a cannon, organizers said. The entertainment starts at 6 p.m. and goes until midnight.

Performers making their Annapolis debut are the Kenya Safari Acrobats and Southern Discomfort, an Atlanta-based musical satire troupe. Locally based arts groups on the roster include the Colonial Players, scheduled to perform an original historical musical, Amelia's Journey, about aviatrix Amelia Earhart and her husband/promoter George Putnam.

Highlights of First Night

Kenya Safari Acrobats will first appear at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St., at 3 p.m. Four evening performances at the Francis Scott Key Auditorium at St. John's College start at 6:30 p.m. The last show starts at 10:15 p.m.

"Rock at the Rec" at the city's Recreation Center, 9 St. Mary's St., will give four high school rock bands a chance to compete against other. The music begins at 6 p.m. and ends at 11:15 p.m.

Steve Key & Co. will perform five gospel musical performances at St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Church Circle, starting at 6:30 p.m and ending at 11 p.m.

Tom Principato, a blues singer, will perform at St. Anne's Parish Hall, Duke of Gloucester Street, starting at 6:30 p.m. His last set is at 10:30 p.m.

Latin dance lessons will be offered at 6:30 p.m. at the Annapolis Elementary School gym at 180 Green St. Latino and salsa music and dancing will go on from 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Angie Miller and Meg Murray, a local singing duo, will perform five shows at the Arundel Center, Calvert and Northwest streets, with the first show at 6:30 p.m. and the last show at 10:30 p.m.

Lea, a folk-jazz fusion singer, will perform five shows at the Circuit Courthouse Jury Room, starting at 6 p.m. The last show begins at 10 p.m.

Southern Discomfort, a musical political satire act, will perform five times at St. Mary's High School auditorium on Duke of Gloucester Street. The first show begins at 6:30 p.m. and the last show begins at 10:30 p.m.

The Junkyard Saints, which plays New Orleans music, will play at the City Dock from 7:15 p.m. until the midnight fireworks.

The fireworks finale ends First Night Annapolis at midnight at the City Dock.

Adult admission buttons may be purchased tomorrow for $20 and are on sale today for $15. For program information and $15 advance admission buttons, call 410-268-8553 or go to

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