Every senior at the U.S. Naval Academy has been grounded for the weekend after a time-honored celebration in the streets of Annapolis gotout of hand.
In an unusually raucous celebration of Service Selection Day, crowds of midshipmen caroused in the downtown pubs Tuesday night and sang at the top of their voices at City Dock. Their rowdy revelry continued past midnight and woke up a number of residents.
Earlier that day, the 1,038 senior midshipmen donned flight jackets or baseball caps with the insignia of submarines as they chose their Naval careers. The day is the culmination of four years of hard work, and considered more exciting than graduation by many midshipmen.
"It's a rather momentous day," said Academy spokesman Noel Milan. "There's generally a celebratory evening, but this became a little too boisterous."
Downtown residents complained that they were awakened late in the evening by loud shouts and bursts of song.
"They were hollering and singing at the top of their lungs," said a longtime resident of East Street, who asked not to be identified. "You couldn't understand all the words, but they sure were loud."
A neighbor in the next street, Carol Woolsey of Cornhill Street, said she also heard the midshipmen celebrating, but wasn't bothered by the noise. "I figure they deserve to let their hair down every once in a while," she said.
At least 100 midshipmen failed to show up until after taps, a junior said yesterday on his way to the gym. "They'll just be spending the weekend here -- that's the long and the short of it," he said.
Confronted with complaints the next morning, the class leadersdecided to revoke town privileges this weekend as punishment, Milan said. He described Tuesday night's "general rowdiness" as "unbecomingbehavior for midshipmen," but noted that nobody was arrested for disorderly conduct.
Seniors who planned to take their sweethearts to dinner and a Valentine's Day dance tomorrow night have had to cancel their reservations at downtown restaurants. The dance is still on, but couples will have to munch a romantic dinner of take-out pizza onthe Academy grounds.
"It will be a hardship," Milan said. "Those whohave dates coming will be spending time with their dates inside the gates."
Many residents and bartenders said yesterday that they sympathized with the midshipmen. Service Selection Day is the midshipmen's big chance to "blow off a little steam," they said.
"I heard some noise, but you know, to me it wasn't as much as people coming out of these bars at 1 in the morning," said Eleanor Meiklejohn, who lives on Cornhill Street. "They had a reason to be happy. And I think themids contribute a whole lot to the city of Annapolis, free of charge."