|Mayor Saves the Day after First Night
The ball had dropped, the fireworks had exploded, the crab crawled out of 1999 and the New Year been wrung in. Now it was time to head home.
For some First Nighters the trip home got off to a slow start.
At 12:15am, Kathy Johnson, of Churchton, and her friends hopped into the car on the fifth level of the Gotts Court Parking Facility. She pulled her Saturn out of its spot and got in the line of cars heading for the exit. But the line didnt move.
They sat and sat and sat and sat. 12:30, 1:00, 1:30, 2:00am.
Around 1:30, a friend headed to the exit, where she found chaos reigning. The arm of the gate was ripped off. A small nub was going up and down. A single employee was overwhelmed by the tide of cars.
Drivers and the attendant bickered back and forth. No one was going anywhere.
Meanwhile, at 2:10am, the phone rang at Mayor Dean Johnsons house. Johnsons New Years celebration had ended about a half-hour earlier. He had just fallen asleep when his son came in with the phone.
Johnson dressed and headed down to the garage.
Thats part of being a mayor in a small town, says Johnson. Your number is in the book and people call.
When Johnson reached the scene, things had gotten ugly. The stuffed garage was understaffed and the attendant frustrated as he processed parking tickets one at a time, charging hourly rates for each car.
The line of cars crawled through the exit.
Back on the fifth floor, at 2:15 Kathy Johnson got a knock on her window. She rolled it down to see Dean Johnson. Mayor Johnson smiled, shook her hand and apologized for the inconvenience. Walking through the garage, the mayor greeted as many stranded drivers as possible.
He kept waving and yelling Get two dollars out, well get you out of here, have your money ready, Kathy Johnson recalled.
After the mayor decided to charge a flat rate of $2, the garage took about 20 minutes to clear.
He also figured out a way to do it better next year.
There is a review of First Night, and flat parking rates have been suggested before. Maybe well discuss them again. It might help clear up some of the confusion.
Johnson praised this years First Nighters for their patience. It really was a good-natured, friendly event. First Night has a light-hearted crowd. They understand there are 12,000 to 15,000 extra people in town, the mayor said.
Kathy Johnson proved his point. We made the best of it, she said. I was with good people and we enjoyed the time with each other. We stayed calm and watched the other people go nuts. And hey, I got to meet the mayor.
Leaving the garage, she saw a tired mayor with a big smile, happy that he could save people a few hours of their new year.
Christmas Unwrapped: How NBTs Shopping Solutions Succeeded
As Christmas approached, NBT reported on how we planned to satisfy the toughest people on our lists, hoping to inspire your 11th-hour giving. Heres how our gifts were received:
Grandson Jonathon, 5, who likes to walk Calvert County beaches looking for sharks teeth, was so excited about his Expedition Kit, he wanted to run right into the kitchen to begin mixing paint for his new shark mold. Mom and Dad had other plans on Christmas morning, so hed have to wait to get started on Grandmas gift.
Niece Sage: Almost 6 is a different age
Opening presents is in itself a gift. An unfamiliar video doesnt hold much attention when there are more boxes and bows. Pulling the paper off the boxes takes precedence over the actual present. We are sure the Wallace and Gromit videos will become a favorite. It may just take some time.
Daughters Mary, 9, and Sarah, 11, were very pleased with their gifts. Mary put her new cookie cutters to work right away making New Years goodies, and Sarah looks forward to her New Year haircut, soon to be scheduled.
Sarah Brewer can hardly wait to get her Year 2000 haircut. Its just what I need, she said.
Son Alexander, 14, loved his boom box and camera. Mom Bebe Murry says shes already been rewarded with a nice self-portrait and some classical sounds, so I finally did something cool!
Cousin Meredith, 16, said shed rather have her Christmas Hawaiian shirt than diamonds. Shed certainly rather have that shirt than the notions the family got her.
Cousin Kate, 23, loved her gifts because she got what she asked for: Victorias Secret cologne plus Bath & Body Works peach cream and lotion. She especially liked her surprise, red pens, because, she said, teachers still write in red on their students papers.
Man, 25: Christopher Heagy got himself something hes always wanted but would normally never buy for himself: a massage. I spent the 70 minutes in a trance-like state between sleep, consciousness, comfort and relief, reports a contented Heagy after his massage with Vicki Halper. (But we know that came after a few minutes of deep anxiety as he figured just how much he was comfortable taking off.)
My entire body felt like I had just taken a deep breath and let out a giant sigh. I was relaxed and ready to enjoy the next few days, Heagy added. What other Christmas gift could do that?
Good Friend 51, drew a hit. The original scratchboard sketch of her Maine cottage meant a lot to her because says she, it represents a special place in her life. She was amazed at how Gary Pendletons drawing captured the essence of the vacation home he had never seen except through photos.
Brother Johnny, 54, politely received his elaborate, reusable door wreath, while everybody else raved about the greenery.
Mom & Dad, 56 & 57: Mother Burns, a good cook known for her unusual dishes, turned son Marks gourmet olive oil into both salad dressing and a special tofu dish. But Dad Burns never got his tighty whity undies with peace signs, for the giver lost his nerve. The peaceloving shorts were returned and replaced with a Star Trek Insurrectionist video for dear old Dad.
Dad Sikorski, 71: See, Im not so hard to buy for, after all. Dad loved the large basket filled with an old-fashioned gardening book, an index card box and seed packets because I will be able to use it all year long.
Mother-in-Law 87: Oh, said Mrs. Darago Sr. on hearing that her gift from son and daughter-in-law was a dozen pint jars of her favorite Bowens Grocery chicken salad, packed for freezing. By the end of the day, the table packed high with gifts for mother and mother-in-law was bare except for chicken salad on ice.
The Family Dog: Francine, a ferocious Lab-cocker mix with a habit of destroying nearly everything she touches, offered mixed reviews of a UFO rubber ball advertised as indestructable. Francine was frightened by the long eerie sound emitted by the UFO, so this toy survived the holidays.
Tennis Lovers Polish Their Games
Do you only hear the word love on the tennis court? Is your overhead swing rusty? Do your opponents ace you with every serve?
Then youre the player tennis director Paul DAmico of Sport Fit in Bowie invites to improve your game the Third Annual Saddlebrook Weekend Fri. Jan. 7 and Sat. Jan. 8.
You get a chance to review different things about your game, learn new techniques and see what potential future tennis lessons holds for you, says DAmico, former United States Naval Academy head tennis coach.
Curley Davis, leading tennis author and instructor, and staff from Floridas Saddlebrook Tennis Resort where Pete Sampras trains co-sponsor this free open house. This weekend, pros whove worked with champions turn their attention to you.
You can find out if your backhand swing is weak or if you can speed up your serve. Agility drills will improve your movement on the court. The pros also videotape your game for further analysis.
On Friday evening, adults join in clinics, learning the importance of doubles strategy. Two hours of round-robin play follow.
PeeWees, ages 4-7, and juniors, ages 7-16, work on their skills Saturday morning.
This gives parents the opportunity to see if their children are interested in the sport, even those that have never picked up a racquet, DAmico says.
For the PeeWees, not all of the fun is in the swing. A special visit from a magician adds to the entertainment.
And younger clinics are not only for beginners, either. Intermediate and advanced players work on improving their skills and on learning new things. Every player is grouped with players of similar background and skill.
Once again, adults take the court on Saturday afternoon, in a clinic focused on singles and doubles work. A round robin leads the evening, with a competitive tournament starting at 6pm.
The weekend gives you a chance to meet new staff and get tips from professionals who may teach in a different style. You can get an introduction to our tennis facility, make new friends and always, have fun, DAmico adds.
For more information, contact Sport Fit Bowie Racquet: 410/741-1355.
Way Downstream ...
France and Turkey provided sad holiday reminders of the need to enforce extreme environmental safety by ships on the Chesapeake Bay. French officials claimed an ecological catastrophe after oil began washing ashore Christmas day from a sunken tanker. In Turkey, a Russian tanker ran aground on Dec. 29 in one of the worlds busiest shipping lanes, causing what officials called a natural disaster near a population of 10 million
In Alabama, state Rep. Johnny Ford, a Democrat not known as a friend of wildlife, uttered our favorite quote of 99 while discussing a proposal to list the rare sturgeon as an endangered species. Said Ford: We dont want these ugly fish in the state of Alabama.
Colorado developer Bill Shuck uttered our second favorite quote of 99 when complaining that officials in Colorado Springs were sensitive to citizens groups worried about growth. He said: You cant be an elected official and let people dictate the law of the land.
Our Creature Feature comes from Wyoming, where the town of Sheridan has approved an unusual animal plan: the Bunny Death Penalty. The city council ordered a campaign of lethal force after Police Chief Vince Yardas told them that rabbits are eating through siding, flower bulbs in the ground, destroying gardens, chewing through wires and cables.
But council member Jim Tyra was skeptical: Theyll multiply faster than you can shoot them.
New Bay Times Weekly