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'Pray you don't fall over': Annapolis triumphs over Eastport in annual Tug of War

Phil Davis
Contact Reporterpdavis@capgaznews.com

A rope sits dormant on top of the water across the span of Spa Creek.

It's the annual Maritime Republic of Eastport Tug of War. Each year, the west and east side of the city, separated by the Annapolis-Eastport Bridge, are pitted against each other in a friendly competition of strength that takes place across the water.

The event is equal parts community get-together and friendly rivalry. Those not participating walk around holding cups of beer and snacking on fried foods while the competitors strap on gloves and plant their feet on the ground at their respective homesteads.

This year is a bit different.

It's the last heat, with the groups "Young Women Committed to Action (YWCA) Annapolis" and The Bernie House of Eastport headed up against each other.

The west side, Annapolis, is up 4-3.

"This doesn't happen that often, so let's hear it," an announcer tells those in attendance.

On the east side, Eastport, they're equally trying to keep spirits high in hopes that a win would result in a tie and possibly a tiebreaker.

The two sides gather on their respective sides of the rope. While they're competing for superiority, both of their missions are to fight domestic violence.

Members of YWCA start to position on the rope with gloved hands and wide smiles. As the countdown begins, there's some friendly chatter among the group as they start to lean back on the rope.

"5. 4. 3. 2. 1."

Early on, the two sides seem relatively even. No side seems to be dominant as the rope pulls taut over the creek.

But as the two sides jostle for the lead, YWCA starts to steadily gain ground as the group continues to pull more of the rope onto City Dock.

"Tug! Tug! Tug!" the crowd screams, ultimately leading to a YWCA win and a 5-3 win for Annapolis.

After the group poses for pictures, Bailey McMahon walks to the side and shows how her hands are still shaking.

"Dig and pull hard ... and pray you don't fall over," she said of her team's strategy.

The group's clinical director, Stacie Gold, explains that the overall strategy was "to get low into a seated position ... and get your feet planted." The group jokes, however, that the overarching strategy was really just to win.

"We felt a little pressure to win because nobody wanted to tie," CEO Molly Knipp said.

But they all say it wasn't necessarily about the competition. It was the group's first year in the competition and, in pairing with The Bernie House, their real goal was to bring awareness to the issue of domestic violence.

As the crowd disperses, finishing their beers so they can walk around downtown, Gold said she has a simple message for both the team's victory and their advocacy.

"Join the winning team," Gold said.

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