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Lee Capristo
Director of Publications
Anne Arundel 100

Happy, Happy Birthday!

Written by Barbara Geehan

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Happy 300th!

 In 1934, Maryland threw herself a massive 300th birthday party that lasted two years.

It began with a commemoration in England on the Isle of Wight by placing a plaque where the colonists began their trip to the New World Nov. 22, 1633. At the same time, there was a special commemoration at the War Memorial in Baltimore and a presidential radio address by Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“It is a good thing to demand liberty for ourselves and for those who agree with us,” he stated, “but it is a better thing and rarer thing to give liberty to others who do not agree with us. We would do less than our duty to Lord Baltimore if on such an anniversary we paid no tribute to this, his greatest contribution to America, a free America.”

There was a second commemoration at St. Clement’s Island on March 25 (Maryland Day) and included the installation of the large concrete cross, an outdoor Catholic mass, and a range of political and patriotic orations.

 The grand finale of the season of celebrations was on June 15th and 16th in St. Mary’s City. The original plan for the St. Mary’s part of the celebration called for the creation of a stone temple on Church Point to commemorate the site where religious toleration was born. However, negotiations with the vestry of Trinity Church were slow and the plans almost came to naught, until the descendants of Dr. John Mackall Brome stepped forward. The two Brome daughters, who had inherited most of the original town lands of St. Mary’s City, from their father James Brome offered slightly more than an acre of land, but with stipulations. Rather than a stone temple to toleration, the two sisters offered the property for a reconstruction of the brick State House of 1676. The State House is a lasting monument to the founding of the Maryland colony.

There also was a water pageant featuring recreations of the Ark and the Dove, and visits by two U.S. Navy destroyers (USS Manley and the USS Overton), a British heavy cruiser (HMS Dundee), the Maryland Conservation Navy, and an array of yachts and private watercraft. Many of the participants at St. Mary’s came by steamship on special one day excursion rates.

And a special historical pageant dramatized the story of the early colony. Entitled, “St. Mary’s, Mother of Maryland”, the script was written by Kathleen Read Coontz and the cast was consisted of local St. Mary’s residents, some actually playing the roles of their ancestors.

According to newspaper accounts of the time, 100,000 people attended the celebration over two days with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. But they ate well: In only the first day, according to accounts, 2,500 pounds of hot dogs, 3,000 sandwiches, 1,000 chicken dinners, 1,000 roast beef cold plates, 7,000 gallons of orangeade, 7,000 gallons of lemonade, and 40 ½ barrels of beer  were consumed. Prohibition had been repealed just seven months before.

Nationally, a special U.S. postage stamp and a specially minted half dollar were created, and the first commemorative license plate was hammered out.

The next year, May of 1935, the Freedom of Conscience Monument, built from donations from the counties of Maryland, was dedicated.

 - Compiled from data from Historic St. Mary’s City, in particularSilas Hurry, curator of collections and archaeological laboratory director

Happy 375th!

 Celebrations of Maryland’s 375th birthday already have begun and will continue through the year. More than 40 of the county’s 2009 annual events include special “Celebrate 375” components. Also, a special beer was brewed, a special music composition was commissioned, and a special ice cream was created. For more information, see The big weekend, however, is June 19-21:


June 19 - River Concert World Premiere

The College’s River Concert Series Season Opener celebrates the 375th with the world premiere of a symphonic work “Terra Mariae: A Creation Story” by Maryland composer Nathan Lincoln-DeCusatis with spoken texts culled from early writings on Maryland’s founding prepared by Jennifer Cognard-Black, associate professor of English. 7 p.m.

 June 20 - Maryland’s Birthday Celebration

All-day celebration at Historic St. Mary’s City, site of Maryland’s first colony and capital, features tall ships and skipjacks you can climb aboard along the St. Mary’s River waterfront. There will also be colonial-style food, make-and-take crafts, vendors, music and dancing, and a cider/beer/coffee garden. The day will close with a special River Concert on the college campus, to include a reprise of “Terra Mariae: A Creation Story” and fireworks.   Free. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

 June 20 - Juneteenth Celebration

Entertainment for all ages celebrating cultural diversity and freedom at Freedom Park in Lexington Park starting at noon. Early evening jazz concert.

June 21 - Family, Fun and Fitness!

The College of Southern Maryland, Leonardtown campus, celebrates 375 years with wellness, fitness & recreation. Includes fitness demos, wellness tips, health screenings, fun races and a 3.75-mile walk to include historic Leonardtown. 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

'In Terrae Mariae: A Creation Story'

The River Concert Series featuring the Chesapeake Orchestra with Jeffrey Silberschlag, music director, kicks off the 2009 season with a double-header weekend on June 19 and 20 to celebrate Maryland's 375 with the premiere of a newly commissioned work, "In Terrae Mariae: A Creation Story," commemorating the founding of Maryland. The piece tells about the arrival of the English colonists and their thrill of seeing Maryland for the first time. The text was inspired by historical documents assembled by Jennifer Cognard-Black (St. Mary's associate professor of English) and the music was composed by Maryland's rising star Nathan Lincoln-DeCusatis.

This is Lincoln-DeCusatis' second commission for the River Concert Series. His first work, "Parabola Sospesa," was performed in the 2007 concert season, the result of a commission award given to him while studying composition with David Froom (St. Mary's professor of music) at the College's Alba, Italy, program in 2006. Froom says of Lincoln-DeCusatis, "he has an unerring sense of how to make a really good sound, and how to put a piece of music together." Lincoln-DeCusatis has a doctor of musical arts degree from the University of Maryland, College Park. In addition to his work as a composer, Lincoln-DeCusatis performs as a jazz pianist in the Washington, D.C. area.

Also Friday night, Dvorak's Symphony Number 9 "New World," and Saturday night celebrated violinist Anne Akiko Meyers performs Barber's violin concerto and pops favorites, plus Handel's "Royal Fireworks" with real fireworks overhead! Booz Allen Hamilton, and SAIC, are special sponsors of River Concert Series' Maryland 375 celebration. - by Lee Capristo

Brewed Like the Old Days

Brewer's Alley, Frederick County's original brewpub, has created a   commemorative ale for Maryland's 375th anniversary.

Tom Flores, master brewer at Brewer's Alley, created "1634 Ale" with ingredients that had been available to the colonists. To start the process, he and head brewer Margaret Lenz studied descriptions of 17th- century brewing compiled in William J. Kelley's historical beer review, Brewing in Maryland (1964). "We used raw materials that would have been found in the austere conditions of early colonial Maryland," says Flores. The ale's ingredients include molasses, malted rye, malted wheat, and caraway. Since hops were scarce in colonial Maryland, the brew uses a small amount compared to modern standards.

They first brewed a small batch, roughly equivalent to 12 kegs. They taste-tested it with the regular customers at the Brewer's Alley restaurant in historic Frederick, Maryland. The tasters gave the first batch high marks, but the brewers tweaked the recipe for a second batch, thereby creating "flavor bookends." Flores says this is a typical brewer's process, necessary to control quality on larger-batch brewing.

Finally, it was ready. The ale was sampled by state officials on Maryland Day, March 29, in St. Mary's City. It will be the featured brew for Maryland's Birthday Bash on June 20.  Bottles of "1634 Ale" will be retailed at Maryland packaged goods stores carrying special craft beers beginning in May.  For more information on "1634 Ale" or Brewer's Alley, visit or call 301-631-0089. - by Lee Capristo

aledrinkersModern colonials taste a new "vintage" ale at Maryland Day on March 29 in Historic St. Mary's City. Photo credit: Sue Wilkinson

A Frozen Sensation

Deb and Ray Bednarcik, owners of Bruster's ice cream in Hollywood, Maryland, have created a special ice cream flavor to celebrate Maryland's 375th birthday.  "Maryland 375" stacks up on a cone like the state flag, with yellow, red, and black provided by cake batter ice cream, cherries, and chocolate sprinkles. Their frozen confection passed the taste test with the St. Mary's County Department of Economic and Community Development and made its official debut at the Southern Maryland Legislative reception in Annapolis on February 26.

"Maryland 375" will be offered until Dec. 31 at Bruster's ice cream locations throughout Maryland.