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Annapolis' annual free parking returns, Midnight Madness is on, New Year’s fireworks canceled

Performers from the Dance Center of Severna Park dance on Main Street. Shoppers come out to Main Street and the surrounding Annapolis area for Midnight Madness.
Performers from the Dance Center of Severna Park dance on Main Street. Shoppers come out to Main Street and the surrounding Annapolis area for Midnight Madness. (By Paul W. Gillespie / Capital Gazette)

The holiday season is a go in Annapolis. At least, most of it.

The city will once again offer free parking downtown to shoppers from Thanksgiving through New Years Day, Midnight Madness returns and the city-sponsored New Year’s fireworks and tent party are canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials announced Tuesday.

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Cheaper parking is offered each year to incentivize more people to shop downtown. Parking will be free for up to two hours at metered spots downtown and a third hour may be had for those who download the Park Mobile phone app and use the code “PARKDTA."

Visitors who park at Knighton and Gotts garages can park for a flat rate of $5 if they prepay for parking at annapolisparking.com.

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The city is also giving a $17,000 grant to Annapolis Jaycee’s to decorate storefronts throughout downtown and in Eastport in late November. Downtown Annapolis Partnership will be pitching in funds for the decorations as well, including holiday-themed banners and flags, a Christmas tree at Market Space, a menorah at City Dock and street lighting downtown.

“It’s been a hard year on retailers. Restaurants have gotten a lot of help this year with outside dining,” said Erik Evans, executive director of Downtown Annapolis Partnerships. “The holiday is the time to pitch in and help our retailers. This is their make it or break it time.”

Midnight Madness

In December, the city will host three Midnight Madness events where restaurants and retailers downtown will stay open late. Main Street and Maryland Avenue will be closed to vehicle traffic to allow for social distancing.

Midnight Madness dates:

  • Dec. 3, until midnight.
  • Dec. 10, until midnight.
  • Dec. 17, until 11 p.m.

Shopping will begin at 4 p.m., two hours earlier than in previous years. Knighton Garage will be free to park in from 4 p.m. to midnight during Midnight Madness.

Gotts Court Garage is free from 4 p.m. to midnight, Thursday through Sunday from now through the winter. And Hillman Garage is free from 4 p.m. to midnight, Thursday and Friday; 12 p.m. to midnight on Saturday and 10 a.m. to midnight on Sundays, now through the winter.

Light Parade

On Dec. 12, the Eastport Yacht Club will host its annual Lights Parade. The event, held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., sees about an armada of boats decked out in colored lights cruise around Annapolis Harbor.

Menorah lighting

The Chabad of Anne Arundel County will host a menorah lighting for Hanukkah at City Dock at 5:45 p.m. on Dec. 13. This year, Hannukkah lasts from Dec. 10 to 18.

New Year’s Eve

All city-sponsored New Year’s Eve events, including the tent party and fireworks festivities, are canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the city said.

Long-term parking changes

The Annapolis City Council has taken up some parking-related legislation in recent weeks. On Monday, the council approved Ordinance O-28-20, which requires that a residential parking permit be visibly displayed on the car to which the permit was issued. The permit decal must be placed on the driver’s side rear window, according to City Code.

The bill, co-sponsored by Alderwomen Elly Tierney, D-Ward 1 and Rhonda Pindell Charles, D-Ward 3, stems from complaints by residents that cars without permits were overstaying the two-hour limit.

The council also passed another Tierney-sponsored bill, O-33-20, which strengthened the rules for towing cars in the city and hope to reduce repeat offenders.

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Currently, vehicles that block a driveway or park in a loading-unloading zone are issued fines. The same goes for trailers or similar vehicles that block an emergency vehicle or when a vehicle is parked on a street, parking lot or parking garage for longer than 48 hours are issued fines. Tierney’s bill requires those infractions to come with a fine and a tow.

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