Get festive

Seasonal celebrations fill Annapolis for the next few weeks

November 30, 2008|By Susan Gvozdas | Susan Gvozdas,Special to The Baltimore Sun

Shopping centers in Anne Arundel County have been festooned with holiday decorations and sale signs for weeks, but for Annapolitans, the holiday season doesn't officially begin until tonight's Grand Illumination.

The traditional lighting of the holiday tree, sponsored by the Annapolis Jaycees and Homestead Gardens, begins at 6 p.m. with live music, followed by the lighting at 7 p.m. Several local groups will perform, including the Talent Machine, St. Mary's Noel choir and the Sweet Adelines. Santa will arrive by horse and buggy, and the Jaycees will sell cocoa, cider and tree ornaments. The Jaycees will collect nonperishable food and new unwrapped toys for its annual holiday food baskets project.

"The city looks good, and I think people feel good about the holiday sharing time," said Mayor Ellen O. Moyer, who will speak at the event.

The city is hosting several other holiday events. Downtown businesses are holding their annual Midnight Madness shopping spree Thursday and Dec. 11. Stores will start serving refreshments at 6 p.m. and stay open until midnight those nights for holiday shoppers. City officials scheduled their annual open house from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11 in the council chambers at 160 Duke of Gloucester St. in the hopes that people will stop by and then head downtown to shop, Moyer said.

Midnight Madness allows residents to catch up with one another, she said.

"You might not have seen people for six months, and there they are," Moyer said. "It's a time to renew acquaintances."

Large crowds are expected for "the mother of all light parades," Moyer said. The annual Eastport Yacht Club's Lights Parade is scheduled for 6 p.m. Dec. 13. Free parking is available downtown on Main Street in the Gotts and Hillman garages and the Bladen Street State Garage. Visitors also can take free shuttles to and from the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Other annual mainstays and new events are being held throughout the county.

The eco-conscious group Green Drinks Annapolis is hosting a holiday party from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Annapolis Maritime Museum in Eastport. The theme is an environmentally friendly holiday with green gift ideas and ways to throw a waste-free holiday party. The free event with refreshments will be inside the museum's newly renovated McNasby's Oyster Co. building, where Second Street meets Back Creek. Some green gifts will be for sale, including paper ornaments infused with seeds that can be planted in the spring, said Elvia Thompson, one of the event's organizers.

Anne Arundel Medical Center is holding its 14th annual holiday light show, Lights on the Bay, at Sandy Point State Park. This year, the event has two new lighting themes: A North Pole Penguin Village and an Under the Sea Adventure. Lights on the Bay features nearly 70 animated and stationary displays and three lighted tunnels along a two-mile drive through the park. Every night, children can participate in a scavenger hunt for items throughout the displays.

The event, which started Nov. 21, runs until Jan. 4. Admission to Lights on the Bay is $14 per car, $28 per minibus or trolley, and $50 for a coach bus. All proceeds benefit the medical center.

This Friday, the Historic Annapolis Foundation will have a holiday open house from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the William Paca House at 186 Prince George St. Costumed volunteers will lead guests through rooms with period decorations from the past 300 years. Several rooms feature new themes, including two with World War I- and II-era decorations. One room will be based on Charles Dickens' holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, and feature Scrooge and other characters from the story. Visitors also will be led to a new exhibit of 18th-century frontiersmen celebrating the holidays at 43 Pinkney St. Tickets for the 45-minute guided tour are $15 for adults and $10 for ages 6 to 17. Children younger than 5 are admitted free.

"It's a really fun evening," said Carrie Kiewitt, vice president of advancement at William Paca House.

The foundation will hold a holiday wreath-making workshop from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday in the garden, where guests can create Colonial Revival-style wreaths. Materials such as boxwood, wreath forms and other basic supplies will be provided, but visitors can bring extra greens, fruits, seed pods and ribbons to customize their wreaths, Kiewitt said. Admission is $45. Reservations are required.

Also Saturday, the Shady Side Rural Heritage Society will hold its annual Holiday House Tour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The admission is $25 for the entire tour, or $5 for an individual home. Tickets may be purchased at the Captain Salem Avery House Museum at 1418 E.W. Shady Side Road in Shady Side. The museum will open at 9:30 a.m. for ticket sales and is one of the tour stops. The Women of St. James' Parish will serve lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the parish hall.

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