Who Makes the Season Bright and Green

by Elvia Thompson

November 2016 - This year the beautiful holiday decorations in downtown Annapolis will be a little Greener – in terms of energy saving and resource recovery, and our air will be cleaner. More below, but first a bit about exactly who makes the season bright.

annapolis jayceesThis Saturday you’ll see some 60 young people fan out in teams to decorate storefronts along Main Street, Maryland Avenue, State Circle, Dock Street, and Market Space to bring holiday cheer to our town. These are the Annapolis Jaycees. For close to three decades this volunteer/merchant partnership has brightened the holiday season.

The project is also a major fundraiser for the Jaycees, whose motto is “A force for good,” and they love doing it. Jaycee members “age out” of the organization when turn 40, but many former Jaycees come back year after year for this one project because it’s fun and because it gives the town such a lovely, quaint look.

downtown annapolis partnershipWhile the Jaycees cover the businesses, public spaces such as alleyways and the harbor area and light poles, are decorated by Homestead Gardens, which is hired by the Downtown Annapolis Partnership (a 501(c)(3) tax-deductible, non-profit organization), to do its magic. The partnership will spend more than $30,000 in donations and sponsorship funds to decorate downtown, promote Small Business Saturday (November 26) and Midnight Madness.

This year you’ll see public decorations from the big tree at St. Anne’s on Church Circle to wrapped and lighted light poles reflecting on the water along Ego Alley. Also, along Maryland Avenue you’ll see planter boxes and over-the-avenue swags. On West Street, you’ll see lamp posts decorated from Church Circle to Westgate Circle and the Inner West Street Association’s swag lights over the street on the first block.

Greening the Green: Energy Saving & Resource Recovery

string of lightsWhat makes the project Green this year is that for the first time, the Jaycees’ lights will be recycled through a partnership with Annapolis Green. And next year’s lights will be LEDs, not incandescent. It’s been too time consuming for the Jaycees to separate the lights from the greens at the end of the season so everything has been thrown away each year. In January, Annapolis Green volunteers will collect the garlands and wreaths and pull out the lights for recycling in partnership with Mom’s Organic Market in Bowie. The lights, along with those of anyone who wants to recycle old lights, will be sent to a company that will harvest the valuable parts from which the lights are made, thus eliminating waste. The greens will be “recycled” via Annapolis’ yard waste recycling program.

Air Quality

For the first time ever, Main Street – from Conduit to Church Circle –will be closed to automobile traffic during Midnight Madness I & II and III (the later formerly known as Eleventh Hour)! It will be a beautiful, exhaust-free pedestrian mall from 6 p.m. to midnight on December 1, 8, and 15.

lights on west streetThink of Main Street, Maryland Avenue, and Inner West Street as our mall without walls. In fact, you would probably walk a longer distance to shop at the big mall just outside of town than you will downtown.

Midnight Madness, a great time to support our local businesses downtown, is also a traditional social event in Annapolis. Old and new friends will be out walking, taking in the sights and refreshments offered by merchants, and getting into the holiday spirit. When we Shop Local, we reinvest in our community and help the heartblood of Annapolis, our downtown businesses, thrive.

If you’re worried about parking don’t be. Discounted parking ($5) will be available in city garages. There will be FREE three-hour valet parking offered on Dock Street, FREE electric shuttles running (tips to Urban evenTours drivers appreciated), and the Circulator will run.

gift boxComplimentary gift wrapping will be available at the Market House by the Ward One Residents Association. Annapolis Green also will offer complimentary, alternative, eco-friendly, and innovative recycled gift wrapping at our location at 92 Maryland Avenue, starting at 8 p.m., right after Green Drinks Annapolis at Pusser’s Caribbean Grille.

Enjoy your Green holidays!

This appeared as a guest column in the November 17, 2016 edition of The Capital.

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