A blue cardboard fish covered in tinsel wandered around the 21st floor of the World Trade Center in Baltimore today, accompanied by a tuxedoed trumpet player, a Native American drummer and a street performer named Foo-Foo.
They were part of the backdrop for an announcement of year 2000 celebrations. The Maryland Commission for Celebration 2000 was given the task of planning a millennium celebration that is unique and comprehensive, and it has organized a dozen or so programs for the entire year.
The commission's plans were delivered today with a bit of silliness and much fanfare, a tone set by the group's chairman, state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer (D), a former Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor.
Foo-Foo, a performer in Annapolis's First Night party, mingled with public officials and corporate sponsors, covered in multicolored rags and a startling white mask, piling confetti into the hands of anyone who would let her.
Meanwhile, officials in regular clothes, including Schaefer and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D), unveiled a guide to the commission's programs next year and to local New Year's Eve celebrations. The commission, appointed in 1997 by Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D), has raised $850,000 toward its $1 million goal to pay for programs throughout the coming year.
"We shied away from the poof, big-bang midnight celebration," said Louise Hayman, the commission's executive director. With New Year's events in Baltimore, Annapolis, Frederick and nearly everywhere else, she figured, "Why compete with that?" The commission decided to help promote the local New Year's celebrations and focus its own efforts on continuing programs.
Among them are MaryLandscapes, which creates environmentally friendly gardens; Food for the Future, a food drive in March to feed the hungry; and Filming Maryland, a series of free exhibits and movies from April through October at the Maryland Historical Society.
"When you have much to look forward to, you celebrate, and that's just what we plan to do," Townsend said.
The Maryland 2000 guides can be obtained by calling the commission at 1-877-MD2-0001. Starting next week, guides will be available at all local libraries and the state's tourism centers.
CAPTION: Comptroller William Donald Schaefer and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend discuss the state's millennium events.