A hometown celebration

Annapolis scales back New Year's Eve with emphasis on families and music

December 30, 2007|By Nicole Fuller | Nicole Fuller,sun reporter

Annapolis' scaled-back New Year's Eve celebration tomorrow night will still have live music, hours of children's activities and the fireworks display over Spa Creek.

But it won't have its well-known name, excessive lines to attend indoor events or those ubiquitous admission buttons that cost up to $22.

The local nonprofit that ran First Night Annapolis since 1990 disbanded this fall after years of failing to break even financially and of being unable to raise enough money to put on the giant celebration of the arts, which included up to 50 sites across downtown and cost upward of $300,000.

In less than two months, local officials working with Annapolis Alive!, the group organizing the 300th-anniversary celebration of the city's charter, have pulled together a much smaller-scale event for tomorrow night that sticks to the original mission of providing a family-friendly, alcohol-free party.

But rather than put all of the city's arts community on display, music will be the featured entertainment at "Annapolis Alive! New Year's Eve 2008."

"It's going to be a lovely, lovely evening," said Karen Engelke, the city's special-events coordinator. "This is really a hometown celebration. We have some awesome talent in Annapolis."

And rather than buy buttons to get into events, revelers can attend most of the events for free.

The event is being funded by a $7,000 grant from the city council, and donations from BankAnnapolis for the midnight fireworks display and TeleCommunication Systems Inc. for the two stages for performers.

Up to 7,000 partygoers -- down from a peak of 30,000 at First Night Annapolis -- are expected to attend the event, which will kick off at the Annapolis Recreation Center. From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., children can create paper yo-yos and dragon puppets to celebrate Chinese New Year; homemade modeling compound to make braided "bread" for the Jewish New Year; and other creations to represent Europe, Latin America and West Africa.

Ray Weaver, spokesman for Mayor Ellen O. Moyer, will serve as the master of ceremonies for the musical portion, which begins at 6 p.m. on two stages at 122 Main St. and along Francis Street between State Circle and Main Street. Performers will include Melody Page as Hannah Montana; the Asbury Broadneck United Methodist Chancel Choir; and the Sons of the Severn Barbershop Quartet.

The organizers of the annual Battle of the Bands competition for teens will put on a "Rock at the Rec" concert from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., at the Recreation Center. Admission to this event is $10.

Other performers will be scattered on the Main Street, and the Chesapeake Caledonian Pipes and Drums will lead a parade from Church Circle to Market Square, followed by the countdown to midnight.

Alderman Richard E. Israel, who represents downtown Annapolis, applauded the huge effort to make sure the city hosted a New Year's celebration this year, despite a short planning period and limited funding.

"It's a good way to welcome the New Year," Israel said. "A lot of people associate New Year's Eve with parties and that sort of thing. And often there's alcohol associated with that. I think there's a lot of families that don't feel that's the proper environment for children. And they want an event where they can take their children."

Looking ahead, the city has established New Year's Annapolis, which will be similar in scope to First Night. Already, Brendan Curley, president of ABC Events in Annapolis, an event management company, has submitted a bid for the project. Curley also helped plan this year's event.

"The city's done an amazing job pulling this together. I think it will exceed expectation and, hopefully, we can exceed them next year," said Curley. "I think what the city's learning is this really is a full-time entity to plan these things and execute them so they come out properly."

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

New Year's Eve - live in Annapolis

Annapolis Alive!, organizers of the city's Charter 300 celebration, has stepped in to replace the former First Night Annapolis New Year's Eve party. Most of the entertainment at the alcohol-free, family-friendly event will be free.

3 p.m.-6 p.m.: Free children's activities at the Annapolis Recreation Center, 9 St. Mary's St. The Chesapeake Children's Museum will help celebrate New Year's Eve around the world with arts and craft activities.

6 p.m. to midnight: Bands perform on two stages, on Main and Francis streets. Bands, choirs, singers, street performers will be along Main Street from Church Circle to Market Square.

7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Rock at the Rec! presented by Battle of the Bands at the Annapolis Recreation Center. It will feature Beretta Jane, American Diary, Loving the Lie and the 2007 Winner Battle of the Bands, ...And Sometimes Why. Tickets cost $10 at the door.

11:45 p.m. Parade, led by the Chesapeake Caledonian Pipes and Drums, from Church Circle to Market Square, followed by Mayor Ellen O. Moyer's countdown to midnight.

Midnight: Fireworks display

Parking: The cost is $5 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. A free shuttle will run back and forth to downtown from 6 p.m. tomorrow until 1 a.m. Tuesday. Public garage parking is also $5.

Street closings:The city will close the following streets from 5 p.m. tomorrow to 1 a.m. Tuesday: Main Street's Market Square to Church Circle (starting at 4 p.m.); Francis Street to State Circle; Conduit Street from Main to Gorman streets; Maryland Avenue from State Circle to Prince George Street.

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