At  Light City Baltimore, children play on "The Pool" by Jen Lewin, a series of color-changing circles that react to movement of festival-goers.
At  Light City Baltimore, children play on "The Pool" by Jen Lewin, a series of color-changing circles that react to movement of festival-goers. (Jerry Jackson / Baltimore Sun)

In 2016, new events and programs launched, leaders emerged and even new license plates appeared on vehicles. At the same time, Marylanders said goodbye to a political stalwart in Congress, a family-owned local supermarket chain — and a beloved beer at baseball games.

Welcome

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Light City: The city's first lights festival transformed the Inner Harbor and several neighborhoods with a 20-foot peacock adorned with LEDs, a colorful light canopy connecting Piers 4 and 5, and interactive circular light pads. The festival was modeled on Australia's annual Vivid Sydney festival and also featured food and live music.

Gov. Larry Hogan unveiled new Maryland-flag themed license plates.
Gov. Larry Hogan unveiled new Maryland-flag themed license plates. (Erin Cox / Baltimore Sun)

New Maryland plates: In with the new Maryland flag-themed license plates, out with the old War of 1812 license plates. Gov. Larry Hogan dispensed with the War of 1812 plates commissioned by his predecessor, Martin O'Malley, and unveiled plates Hogan helped design.

Body cameras: Hundreds of officers in Baltimore and Baltimore County began receiving body cameras this year, part of an effort for the departments to be more transparent with a public demanding greater accountability. The devices have yet to capture many police-involved shootings, and the first such video was released in November.

Sonja Santelises: Baltimore's public schools CEO took over the state's fourth-largest school system in July after a secretive process to replace her predecessor, Gregory Thornton. Santelises, who previously served as the school system's chief academic officer, believes African-American children are too often treated as if they are intellectually inferior.

Monthly water bills: Baltimore rolled out new monthly water bills in the fall to resolve long-standing complaints about excessive charges and erroneous quarterly bills. But many residents have complained that the new bills contain outrageous charges, too.

Ivan Baylor, Baltimore Station, places a Baltimore Bike Share bike into a rack at McHenry Row.
Ivan Baylor, Baltimore Station, places a Baltimore Bike Share bike into a rack at McHenry Row. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Biking amenities: Cyclists in Baltimore got a boost this year when the city completed a 2.6-mile, two-way protected bike lane on Maryland Avenue and Cathedral Street. Some 200 GPS-outfitted bicycles also are now available for short-term rental at 20 stations around the city, with more to come in the spring.

Hyun Soo Kim: The Orioles left fielder was nearly banished to the minor leagues and was booed on Opening Day at Camden Yards. But he bounced back, hitting a home run in a critical game against the Toronto Blue Jays and helping the Orioles advance into the postseason.

New $20 bills: Harriet Tubman will be honored with a spot on the $20 bill, the Treasury Department announced in April. Born a slave in Dorchester County, the abolitionist helped slaves make their way to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

Redonda Miller: Miller, who previously held top roles at Johns Hopkins Hospital, became the hospital's 11th president and the first woman to hold the post since the hospital was founded in 1889. Miller was hailed by the hospital as an advocate for women's health.

Panamax ships: In July, Baltimore's port welcomed the first of what officials hope will be many massive container ships from Asia that have come through the Panama Canal. The port acquired four giant new cranes to accommodate the massive ships.

Farewell

Sen.-elect Chris Van Hollen hugs Sen. Barbara Mikulski.
Sen.-elect Chris Van Hollen hugs Sen. Barbara Mikulski. (Brian Witte / AP)

Barbara A. Mikulski: The longest-serving female member of Congress retired this year after nearly four decades. The U.S. senator will be replaced by Chris Van Hollen.

Dolphins: Four years after it stopped offering dolphin shows, Baltimore's National Aquarium announced plans to open a seaside sanctuary for its bottlenose dolphins by 2020. Aquarium officials said in June that they envision a protected habitat where humans would still be involved.

Sparrows Point: The company that bought the former Bethlehem Steel Co. plant in 2014 with plans to redevelop it as an industrial and transportation complex unveiled a new name in January. Officials hope Tradepoint Atlantic's rebranding will help it better market itself in Asia and Europe.

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Carla Hayden: The Enoch Pratt Free Library's CEO became the first woman and first African-American to lead the Library of Congress in Washington. Hayden helped bring Baltimore's library system into the modern digital era, and her supporters hope she will do the same for the Library of Congress.

Mars Super Markets: The family-owned chain in operation since the 1940s folded this summer after years of declining sales. Weis Markets bought five of the chain's 13 stores, while the rest of the Baltimore brand's stores were closed.

Bishop Frank M. Reid III speaks during an interview before he said farewell to the congregation he has served for 28 years.
Bishop Frank M. Reid III speaks during an interview before he said farewell to the congregation he has served for 28 years. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

The Rev. Frank M. Reid III: The longtime pastor of Bethel AME Church got a promotion this year, elevated to the rank of bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Reid will help organize black voters and oversee AME chaplains who work in the military, prisons and hospitals. The Rev. Patrick D. Clayborn now leads Bethel AME Church.

Natty Boh at Camden Yards: The beloved National Bohemian beer mysteriously disappeared from Oriole Park at Camden Yards after the first six home games. Natty Boh's parent company used Orioles imagery on its can without permission, and the Orioles later pulled the cans and kegs from the stadium.

Cal Ripken World Series: The Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series, a Babe Ruth League international tournament for players ages 11 and 12, announced it was leaving Aberdeen after 13 years. Hosting the event cost about $100,000.

Sailor Moon cosplayers dance around in the lobby of the Convention Center during Otakon.
Sailor Moon cosplayers dance around in the lobby of the Convention Center during Otakon. (Caitlin Faw / Baltimore Sun)

Otakon: The annual three-day anime convention featuring extravagantly costumed participants is pulling out of Baltimore after 18 years, citing deteriorating conditions at the Baltimore Convention Center. The 2017 convention will relocate to Washington, D.C.

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake: Baltimore's mayor's last day was Dec. 6 before she ceded the seat to state Sen. Catherine E. Pugh. Rawlings-Blake says she will seek re-election as secretary of the Democratic National Committee.

Baltimore Sun reporter Mary Carole McCauley contributed to this article.

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