ABOUT A YEAR AGO, I was privileged to be among the band of loonies who staged a mock revolution and formed the fictitious Maritime Republic of Eastport (MRE).
Our goal was to raise a big enough ruckus to make people wonder what the fun was all about so they would come and keep the local businesses going while the bridge connecting the Eastport peninsula to Annapolis proper was closed for repairs.
Nobody could have anticipated the incredible response that weekend and the rest of the year. Most of the Eastport restaurants did better during the three weeks the bridge was closed than they had done the year before. When all the shooting was over, volunteers had sold enough T-shirts, sweat shirts, mugs, flags and bumper stickers to donate $1,000 each to five neighborhood nonprofit groups.
Other events throughout the year brought on a surge of neighborhood spirit. "Admiral" Bob Slaff and an armada of privateers captured Annapolis Harbor and renamed it the Gulf of Eastport. They began a tug of war across the gulf, pitting MRE against the Annapolis Jaycees.
The tug of war raised about $8,000 for community nonprofit groups. The gold-and-black MRE flags continue to fly proudly over homes and businesses. The membership of the Eastport Civic Association grew dramatically over the year. Dave Stahl, former ECA president, attributes the increase to the revolutionary movement. I've heard real estate agents cite the MRE as the cause for a rise in property values on the peninsula.
Best of all, it's been a great catalyst for new friendships and for newcomers to get involved in the community.
Just to prove Eastport is still revolting, residents are staging MRE II, a weekend packed with festivities.
It starts Friday with the Ambassador's Ball at Eastport Clipper Cantina. The .05 K Eastport Bridge Walk/Run and Dog Day Afternoon events for canines and their humans are scheduled for Saturday.
On Sunday comes the revolution again. Military re-enactors of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries will gather at noon at the Eastport Bridge to fire on Annapolis, followed by a parade to the Eastport Capitol, also known as Leon's Barbershop, where Prime Minister Leon Wolfe will welcome all Eastport patriots.
It's great fun and proceeds will go to good causes. Information: Premier Jeff Collins, 410-268-3442.
Dance the night away
More fun is brewing at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St., Annapolis, where executive director Linnell Bowen is planning to dust off her poodle skirt for a sock hop in the gym Feb. 19.
Ballroom dance instructor Jennifer Gooding will offer free jitterbug lessons at 7: 30 p.m. so you'll be ready to swing when the Fabulous Hubcaps start playing at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $20 for Maryland Hall members or $25 for nonmembers. Proceeds will help pay for Maryland Hall's dance studio renovations. People need to register for the jitterbug lessons.
Sandy Ross, executive director of the Charles Carroll House of Annapolis, says the historic lecture series she's organizing at Maryland Hall is sold out.
Some seats may become available after the first lecture Thursday. Ross advises those interested in getting on the waiting list to call 410-269-1737, Ext. 3.
The Shady Side Rural Heritage Society has a popular lecture series at the Captain Salem Avery House, 1418 E. West Shady Side Road.
The speaker scheduled for a luncheon Feb. 3 is Jane Tukarski, one of only about a dozen people who still do scrimshaw, or intricate carvings on ivory or whalebone, in the United States.
Tukarski learned the whalers' craft in Seattle, where she did scrimshaw as an apprentice while completing a degree in textile design. She lives in Crofton. Her work is on display at the Maryland League of Craftsmen in Annapolis and Mystic Maritime Gallery in Mystic Seaport, Conn.
The Captain Salem Avery House Museum has a wonderful collection of artifacts on the life of watermen and the rural charms of Shady Side.
Pub Date: 1/25/99