Two centuries after Francis Scott Key sat on a ship amid smoke and explosions, peering to discern the famed Star-Spangled Banner on the Baltimore shore, the city will celebrate the anniversary with similar sound and fury.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Tuesday announced the schedule of events for Star-Spangled Summer, the sprawling, noisy, multimillion-dollar celebration the city plans to host through September to commemorate the 200th birthday of the national anthem.
The gala — which is to include re-enactments, air shows, exhibitions and fireworks — marks not only Key's writing of the poem in September 1814, but a broader historic moment in which Baltimoreans stepped forward to protect and help shape American independence.
"We invite the whole world to come and party with us," Rawlings-Blake said at Fort McHenry. "It's going to be an amazing 200th birthday bash."
The festivities are to take place at sites across the region, offering activities for people with a wide range of budgets and entertainment tastes.
For those who enjoy savoring the lessons of history, there is an exhibit at the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House and another to open May 17 at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History.
Sports and film fans can enjoy " 'O' Say Can You See," an exhibit on the role the anthem has played in American sport at the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum, and "Anthem of Liberty," a 3-D IMAX film on the origins of the War of 1812, to open June 14 at the Maryland Science Center.
Visitors can unfurl a full-sized, 30-by-42 foot replica of the original Star-Spangled Banner in July and August at Fort McHenry and amble through 520 linear feet of anthem-evoking art in "A Very Visionary Star-Spangled Sidewalk" at the American Visionary Art Museum from July to September.
A narrated "National Anthem Tour by Sea" is scheduled to start May 9. The historic fort can be experienced from the water on a 35-minute Fort McHenry Boat Tour, to run from May 24 through Sept. 30.
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is to be turned into a sort of sensory time capsule with its "Fort! Flag! Fire!" experience, said Tina Cappetta, park superintendent.
Every day in July and August, visitors can meet soldiers and sailors in 19th-century costume, hear fife and drum performers, and smell the smoke of cannon fire.
"It's about enhancing the power of place," Cappetta said.
Star-Spangled Summer is the final phase of the region's two-year commemoration of the anniversary of the war. The main event of the first phase, Sailabration, drew more than 1.54 million visitors in 2012.
Organizers said they expect Star-Spangled Summer to top that figure, and as many as 6 million people worldwide to tune in and view events on Sept. 16, its climactic day.
The day is to include what Bill Pencek, executive director of the War of 1812 commission, said would be the largest and most spectacular fireworks display over the Chesapeake since the Battle of Baltimore nearly 200 years ago.
"We really want to share this magnificent place and its story with the world," he said.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun