From The Sun's Laura Vozzella:

Gov. Martin O'Malley will kick off his second term in somewhat muted style, judging by inaugural ball plans I came across online. Details are yet to be formally announced and invites aren't going out until next week. But http://www.mdinaugural.com/ offers a sneak peek at the particulars.


The festivities begin on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, two days before the Jan. 19 swearing-in, with service projects ranging from construction work at a Baltimore elementary school to a stream cleanup in Montgomery County.

The next day, O'Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown will take part in what is billed as a "youth inaugural event" at the University of Maryland, College Park. High school students from across the state will meet with them to discuss challenges and opportunities for their future.

And finally, on Jan. 19, after the formal swearing-in in Annapolis, there will be a ball in Baltimore. Four years ago, O'Malley's inaugural ball drew more than 8,000 to the Baltimore Convention Center. This time around, about 3,000 are expected to attend. The venue, the 5th Regiment Armory in Baltimore, will be smaller, too.

The dress code is "business cocktail attire," a shift from the "black tie optional" of four years ago.

Also new this year: Those who attend are asked to bring a canned or nonperishable food item for the Maryland Food Bank. The ball was a bigger to-do back in 2007 because Maryland was getting a new governor and the economy was better, O'Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese said.

"It's still a celebration, but smaller," Abbruzzese said. "It is an inaugural for our times."

About the only thing beefed up for the privately financed ball is the slogan. Four years ago, it was "One Maryland." This year it's "We Are One Maryland."

Does a scaled-down ball mean O'Malley won't see fit to sing and strum for the crowd as he did last time around?

All Abbruzzese would say on the topic was, "Stay tuned." If you're interested, tickets are available through the website. The price is $75, or $50 for students and seniors.