2017 New Year’s Eve Guide

Make a New Year’s resolution, this year, ahead of the New Year.

Nope, don’t sign up for a gym membership unless you really intend to use it. Folks who do make the rest of the people at the area workout centers miserable for six weeks – until the newbies either drop out or settle into a regular routine.

No, this is an easier resolution.

Resolve to turn off the TV or the livestreaming on your monitor, and get out and enjoy the New Year’s festivities live and in person.

Besides, it’s impossible to taste champagne on a screen.

It’s up to you whether you’ll go “Naptown casual” (Please wear socks!) or dress up.

Two sets of fireworks

For the second year, there will be two sets of fireworks in Annapolis on Dec. 31.

The first fireworks will cap off a family-friendly afternoon of activities at Weems Whalen Field, the ball field located behind Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts and Bates Middle School. From 3 to 5 p.m., there will be face-painting, obstacle courses, moon bounces, free craft making for kids hosted by Tattered Hatters and the Chesapeake Children’s Museum, Annapolis Police Department and Annapolis Fire Department giveaways and apparatuses, live music performed by local teen bands from the Lee Priddy Music Academy, and food trucks.

At 5:30 p.m., the first set of on-site fireworks will fill the sky.

The Weems Whalen Field parking lot off of Spa Road will be reserved for Handicap parking only during the early event.

The Park Place Garage, at One Park Place (behind Fado’s) off West St., is a short walk to Weems Whalen Field. Parking in this garage will be free from 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 31, until 2 a.m. Monday, Jan. 1.

Circulator Shuttles: There will be a free City of Annapolis-provided Circulator shuttle to and from the Park Place Garage and Weems Whalen Field, and other locations.

And, there’s an app for checking where the nearest Circulator is. Download “RLS Shuttle,” the free Circulator Shuttle app to your phone, and select “Annapolis Circulator” to track where a Circulator is in real time on its route. The mobile app is available in both iOS and Android apps stores at no charge.

The Circulator Shuttles will run from 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 31 until 2 a.m. Monday, Jan. 1.

From 2 p.m. to l6:30 p.m., the Circulator Shuttle will provide a continuous route between Park Place and Maryland Hall on Chase St. to offer transportation for the children’s event at Weems Whalen Field. The other Circular Shuttle will make a continuous loop from Park Place to Church Circle, dropping off and picking up passengers at the top of Main St.

After 6:30 p.m., both Circulator Shuttles will be dedicated to the Park Place-Church Circle loop.

Celebrating in Downtown Annapolis

The festivities in downtown Annapolis at Susan Campbell Park at City Dock don’t rev up until 8 p.m.

Plan ahead and reserve a table at your favorite spot for an early dinner before walking downtown or climbing aboard the Circulator for the free ride.

The Big White Tent returns to Susan Campbell Park and a deejay will crank up the music at 8 p.m. At 9 p.m., the Radio City Band will lay down hits of today, goldie oldies of yesteryear, and irresistible dance tunes to get the crowd moving. The live music will keep the crowd bopping and hopping until just before midnight.

Moments before midnight and the end of 2017, the countdown to the fireworks extravaganza will take place to cheer in the New Year. The countdown will be led by Mayor Gavin Buckley and the bursting fireworks over City Dock will signal the start of the New Year.

Take a break a few minutes before midnight, find your spot under the star-studded sky, and get your camera ready. You don’t want to miss the second fireworks show which begins promptly at midnight!

Parking: To fully enjoy all the free Weems Whalen Field and City Dock events, park at one of four Annapolis’ parking garages and ride the Circulator trolley to the downtown venue. It is free. The garages are open all night. Consider arriving early as the garages do fill up quickly. The Circulator doesn’t go to the state-owned Calvert St. Garage.

Standard rates apply at Noah Hillman, Gotts Court and Knighton garages. You can reserve parking and prepay online at Noah Hillman, Gotts Court and Knighton garages. Visit annapolisparking.com, navigate to the garage of your choice, and select “Buy Daily Parking.”

  • Noah Hillman Parking Garage, 150 Gorman St. $20 (flat rate New Year’s Eve beginning at noon).
  • Gotts Court Parking Garage, 25 Northwest St. $15 (maximum rate).
  • Knighton Parking Garage, 1-A Colonial Ave. $10 (maximum rate).
  • Park Place, 5 Park Place at Taylor Avenue. Is free from 2 p.m. Sunday until 2 a.m. Monday.
  • Calvert St. Garage, 19 St. Johns St., is free all day Sunday, and free until 6 a.m. Monday.

Beginning at 3 p.m. New Year’s Eve, you also can park at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium off Taylor Avenue for $5. No shuttle service will be offered to or from the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium. It is a 1.8 mile walk from the stadium parking lot to Susan Campbell Park. Stadium parking is valid until noon Jan. 1.

Planning to hunt for on-street parking downtown? The meter waivers will remain in effect through New Year's Eve, but you could spend hours driving around looking for a space.

There will not be any parking restrictions specifically related to New Year’s Eve. However, please be sure to adhere to all residential parking signs to avoid tickets, fines, or towing – not a good way to start the New Year. Don’t forget, the free three hour parking is only for three hours.

Maryland Avenue Shuttle: After parking in one of the City garages, you can hail a free electric shuttle to the shops and restaurants on Maryland Avenue and State Circle. The shuttle will run on New Year’s Eve from noon to 6 p.m. Visit EZCruiser.net to quickly hail the shuttle.

Viewing the fireworks: The best public viewing site for the fireworks at Susan Campbell Park is on-site at Susan Campbell Park, though it will be crowded. Other prime viewing locations for the public include Main Street, public spaces northeast of the Severn River such as the World War II Memorial area, any of the street-end parks in Annapolis and Eastport facing Spa Creek, aboard a boat in the City Harbor or Ego Alley, or on a chartered fireworks cruise. The Watermark fireworks cruise is sold out.

This is an alcohol-free event. To celebrate with alcohol, visit a local bar, restaurant or hotel.

For boaters: Because of the anticipated crowded conditions, boaters are urged to select their preferred viewing-area anchorage early and are also warned to avoid the 1,000-foot SAFETY ZONE around the fireworks barge. The Safety Zone covers all of Spa Creek from Susan Campbell Park to the Chart House. Boaters will not be able to transit that entire portion of Spa Creek from 4 p.m. until after the fireworks end.

Please note: Immediately after the fireworks, the barge will be underway to clear the harbor. All boaters are urged to heed the instructions of safety and law enforcement officials including the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Natural Resources Police, the Annapolis Police, the Annapolis Fire Department, the Annapolis Harbormaster and others. If an official asks or tells you to move, please do so immediately. Also note, because of currents in the water, the barge may shift its position. Therefore, the 1,000-foot Safety Zone parameters will also shift.

After the fireworks: Make this your first serious New Year’s Eve Resolution: Avoid traveling by car in the downtown area after the midnight fireworks end. Downtown Annapolis and Eastport streets, plus the Spa Creek Bridge between the two areas can get backed up for hideously long periods after the show is over. Strange but true, traffic is often jammed in both directions on the Naval Academy Bridge, too. Being stuck in traffic is NOT a fun way to start the New Year. Resolve to do better.

Consider dropping by that bar you’ve always wanted to check out and have a cocktail or non-alcoholic drink. Take your time. If you are having more than one drink, plan ahead. Have a designated driver, hail a cab, or use your Uber app to contact a driver.

Spend the night in town: New Year’s Eve is a just a few days away, but there’s still time to reserve a room at an area hotel or bed and breakfast, some of which are offering special New Year’s Eve packages. Several are within a short walking distance of City Dock. Among them are the Annapolis Waterfront Hotel overlooking City Dock, O’Callaghan Hotel Annapolis, 174 West St.; and Loews Hotel, 126 West St.

Dining out

There are plenty of restaurants offering up special New Year's menus, while others will offer a few appropriate specials in addition to their regular fare on the festive night. The prices noted do not include taxes or gratuity. Reservations in advance are strongly advised. Here is a partial listing:

Luna Blu, 36 West St., offers a four course New Year's meal for $60 per person. 410-267-9950

Paladar, 1905 Towne Centre Blvd., will have a three-course prix fixe meal for $45, plus a DJ and midnight celebration. 410-897-1022.

The historic Treaty of Paris Restaurant at the Maryland Inn on Church Circle has a New Year’s Eve dinner menu that can be viewed online: www.historicinnsofannapolis.com/dining.aspx. 410-216-6340.

Melting Pot, 2348 Solomons Island Road in Parole, has a five-course fondue meal with champagne or cider toast for $67 per person. 410-266-8004. This is one of their busiest evenings.

Sam's on the Waterfront, 2020 Chesapeake Harbour Drive East, has early and late dinner seatings. The early seatings at 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. feature a four-course meal for $57.99. Later seatings, at 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. will offer a five-course meal with a DJ, dancing and a champagne toast for $99.95. 410-263-3600.

Rams Head on Stage, 33 West St., will celebrate by “Ridin’ in the New Year” with NRBQ.

The $115 per person affair includes a cocktail hour, appetizers, buffet dinner, dessert, and champagne at midnight with NRBQ on stage. Plus, a dance floor. Doors open at 7 p.m. With cocktail hour until 8 p.m. when the buffet opens. The band starts at 9:30 p.m.

If you eat or drink too much, you can make up for it bright and early Monday morning. The New Year Resolution Run is from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at Susan Campbell Park on Jan.1.

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