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Really? You Don't Look a Day Over 299 . . .
For Annapolis and others, 2008 is a milestone year. Here's how to get in on the celebrations.

By Elissa Leibowitz Poma
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Where's the party in 2008?

Everywhere. Plans are underway across the region to honor city charters, jazz musicians, bridge jumping and even your mama throughout the year.

Let's start in New York. To mark a century's worth of ball drops in Times Square, the city is unveiling a blinged-out, multi-colored, energy-efficient, crystal-drenched ball that will descend in time-honored fashion just before midnight on New Year's Eve. You can celebrate the milestone with millions of your friends; check http://www.timessquarenyc.org for details.

Already have plans? Good for you. Might as well consider joining in on the fun, then, at these 10 celebrations, and get some use out of that calendar you probably just opened for Christmas.

300th anniversary of Annapolis.

Back when Great Britain ruled the Colonies, few places were allowed to elect their own officials; most were appointed by British governors. In 1708, Queen Anne signed a royal charter allowing Annapolis to hold elections and establish itself as a city.

Commemorative events, scheduled throughout the year, began with a fancy-schmancy ball this fall. In the coming months, there'll be Colonial food tastings, a lecture series, the premiere of symphonies honoring the city and a dog show featuring breeds around in the 1700s (King Charles spaniels and mastiffs among them). The biggest events will be Maryland Day on March 30 and CharterFest May 1-4.

More info: 410-280-0445, http://www.annapolisalive.org.

250th anniversary of Pittsburgh.

The region named "Pittsborough" after a British secretary of state was merely an outpost at an important confluence of rivers that was key to trading during Colonial times. This celebration honors the naming of the region in 1758.

Activities will go on all year. Cycling enthusiasts can watch elite competitors race along the historic Forbes Road between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in June. The renovated Point State Park will be highlighted in October during a festival of lights. The city will host an art show as well as exhibits on the city's history. Check the city's tourism Web site for more goings-on.

More info: 800-359-0758,http://www.visitpittsburgh.com.

250th anniversary of Newark, Del.

Newark, about two hours northeast of Washington, was perhaps the 13 Colonies' original party town. The city was chartered by George II in 1758 and the same year received a license to hold semiannual fairs. Granted, they were for agricultural purposes, but they set the scene for a partying tradition that University of Delaware students continue to carry on just fine.

Events are going on all year, but the biggest will be during the week of the anniversary (starting April 13). The city will host a parade, an arts festival and a gala.

More info: 302-366-7000,http://www.cityofnewarkde.us.

100th anniversary of Mother's Day in Grafton, W.Va., and Philadelphia.

Anna Jarvis thought her mother was a pretty righteous babe. She wanted to honor the Civil War-era activist by creating a memorial day for women, so in 1908 she organized a celebration in her church in Grafton, about 230 miles west of Washington and a half-hour south of Morgantown, W.Va. It caught on -- so much so that nine years after Mother's Day took off, Jarvis opposed it, supposedly saying it had become too commercial. In 2008, moms get their day on May 11; Grafton is home to the International Mother's Day Shrine, which will mark the anniversary.

Philadelphia claims Mother's Day as its own because Jarvis lived there when she brainstormed the idea. (She later moved to Grafton.) The city is planning festivities as well, though no events have been finalized.

More info: In Grafton, 304-265-1589,http://www.mothersdayshrine.com; in Philadelphia, 800-537-7676,http://www.gophila.com.

75th anniversary of Virginia Historic Garden Week.

Flowers now are dormant in the gardens across Virginia. But in spring they'll be wide awake, ready to be primped and trimmed like show dogs. During Historic Garden Week (April 19-27), more than 250 homes will invite visitors to wander manicured lawns and neatly groomed walkways of formal cottage, herb, water and secret gardens.

The week includes more than three dozen organized tours of private estates, plantations and historical sites. Complete schedules are expected to be posted on the official Web site in January. Tickets will cost $10 to $35 per event.

More info: 804-644-7776,http://www.vagardenweek.org.

40th anniversary of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, along the Delaware River.

Nearly 12,000 river miles are protected by legislation that Congress enacted in 1968, including big sections of the recreation-rich Delaware River.

New Jersey will mark the anniversary June 22-28 with its annual week-long Sojourn that begins in Barryville, N.Y., and ends in Mount Holly, N.J. Participants canoe and kayak the river and camp along the way. You can sign up to do the entire trip or a portion.

More info: 609-883-9500,http://www.delawareriversojourn.org.

30th anniversary of the New River Gorge Bridge in Fayette County, W.Va.

Extreme: Leaping off a 16-foot-long aluminum diving board from an 876-foot-tall bridge. Even more extreme: Having four seconds to open your parachute, lest you become fish bait.

It'd be goose-bump-raising for most, yet hundreds of jumpers do it off the New River Gorge Bridge, making this the largest so-called BASE jumping event in the world. (BASE stands for building, antenna, span and earth.) Thousands of spectators attended last year's one-day festival, and 2008's edition on Oct. 18 will mark the bridge's 30th anniversary. (The event began in 1980.) The festival includes rappelling, whitewater rafting, rock climbing and food and craft vendors. The bridge is about 300 miles southwest of Washington.

More info: 800-927-0263,http://www.officialbridgeday.com.

25th year of Musikfest in Bethlehem, Pa.

Many events call themselves music festivals merely because they nab one big name or call a heartthrob out of retirement to croon a hit or two. But true music fests are akin to this one: The 2007 Musikfest lineup included artists from Ludacris to Joan Osborne to the Black Crowes to B.B. King.

As per tradition, the 2008 fest won't be pegged to one genre. Here's why: The variety -- blues, tropical, rock, hip-hop, polka, etc. -- has helped the once-small concert grow into a 10-day event (Aug. 1-10) with 13 stages, nine of which hosted free shows in 2007. Schedules and prices will be posted online as soon as they're confirmed. Bethlehem is 200 miles northeast of Washington.

More info: 610-332-1300,http://www.musikfest.org.

20th anniversary of the DuPont Clifford Brown Jazz Festival in Wilmington, Del.

Organizers call the week-long event (June 15-21) the largest free jazz fest on the East Coast. Committed to the notion that access to good tunes need not be pricey, the festival is named in honor of a hometown trumpeter who died in a 1956 car accident at age 25.

Most of the lunchtime and evening performances are around Rodney Square in downtown Wilmington, which is a little more than two hours northeast of Washington. The 2008 lineup isn't yet available, but the past year's included guitarist Stanley Clarke, singer Peabo Bryson and classic, smooth, Latin and even Afghan jazz.

More info: 302-576-3095,http://www.cliffordbrownjazzfest.com.

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