Pulling for Eastport, and also for charity

ON THE WATER

October 26, 2005|By ANNIE LINSKEY

The Minister of Propaganda has churned out six news releases ("Would you like me to send you all of them?" she asks).

The Minister of War is rattling the saber ("Our troops go to the gym every other day!" he said.)

The Premier is making wild threats ("We will annex parts of the city!" she said.)

It is that time of year again, and the breakaway "Maritime Republic of Eastport" is preparing for war. The annual tug of war.

Ever since the Spa Creek Bridge closed temporarily for repairs in 1998, effectively cutting off the Eastport community from the rest of Annapolis and prompting a mock secession, the two "sides" have had an annual battle for superiority, bragging rights, or charity, depending on who you talk to. This year's tug of war starts at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Tuggers can register that morning starting at 9:30 a.m. The cost is $20. You don't have to live in Eastport or Annapolis to tug.

Since the tug of war began, the annual event has raised $165,000 for local charities, organizers say.

This is what happens: A 1,700-foot rope is strung across Spa Creek. It goes from Annapolis City Dock to the end of Second Street in Eastport.

The harbor is shut down - and teams on each side pull as hard as they can. A group of officials sit in a boat in the middle of Spa Creek and watch the rope pass through a series of rings and buoys. The middle of the rope is marked and the officials determine when the center point has moved decisively toward one side or another.

"The Maritime Republic of Eastport side has traditionally won all events, except for one year when Annapolis cheated," declared Bob Janda, the Minister of War for the Eastport side.

A Minister of War for Annapolis could not be located.

This year there will be five heats - or tugging rounds. The goal is to have 33 people on each side of the rope for each tug. If the goals are met, that means 330 will be tugging Saturday. Thousands more watch from City Dock and Second Street.

At stake is the ownership of City Dock (sort of). "We will annex City Dock and it'll be known as the Dock of Eastport ... unless you can come up with something funnier," said Jessica Pachler, the Premier of the Maritime Republic of Eastport. Wait - it will be known as "the glorious landing zone for the vessels of Eastport," she added.

There is considerable fascination with the rope that is used in the tug. It is very heavy and would cost about $24,000 to replace, said Joyce Bolton, the Eastport Minister of Propaganda.

"It's stored in a top-secret, super-secret location, and I don't even know about," Bolton said. (Note to readers: Public information officers, spokesmen and spokeswomen are often kept in the dark, even in a democracy.)

Even real city leaders get involved.

"It is a fun day to have a little sense of humor, to laugh at ourselves and instill some pride in the neighborhood, and to raise money for charity," said Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer, who once served as the Eastport Ambassador to the "mainland." Moyer says she hasn't forgotten her roots: She'll be out cheering for Eastport.

annie.linskey@baltsun.com

For more information visit themre.org.

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