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Volume 16, Issue 48 - November 27 - December 3, 2008
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From Homestead to Annapolis

How the city gets its Christmas tree

The Annapolis city Christmas tree speaks for itself: Full of bough and ornament, it tells you to look! look! and you find more.

Look behind it, and you’ll find more, for the tree tells a secret story of the generosity of neighbors.

“We start looking for a tree in October,” explains Homestead’s Tim Hamilton. “We place newspaper ads saying we’re searching. Usually we get 10 or so calls.” Often, the tree has outgrown its site.

Homestead’s owner Don Riddle himself chooses among the contenders. “Don and his family live in Annapolis, and he takes personal pride in the tree. A tree doesn’t come down till he comes out and takes a look,” Hamilton says.

For the second year in a row, the Annapolis Christmas tree comes from the yard of Bernard Kelm of Pasadena. Kelm donated the pair last year.

Homestead’s landscaping crews cut down the honored tree Thanksgiving week, in time for decorating for the city’s November 30 Grand Illumination. After the cutting, Annapolis public works grinds the stump.

The design of the tree is a secret closely guarded by Homestead’s visual merchandising manager Scott Daly. One year the theme was Maryland’s heritage, and the tree was decked out with crab pots.

This year, we’ve gotten an early hint: “It’s going to be a natural tree, inspired by woodland themes,” Hamilton says. “When times are hard, people go more traditional and want comfort.”

–Sandra Olivetti Martin / Margaret Tearman

Brightening Light House’s Holidays

Eat and drink to make the holidays merry for residents of Anne Arundel County’s Light House Shelter.

Throughout December, volunteers bake their best confection constructions, submitting gingerbread houses to Eastport’s Long and Foster. The delicious domiciles will be displayed in the office from December first through December 13th. Peruse the selection before bidding on your favorite at a silent auction held on the realtor’s website (

Wash down your edible prize with a red or white at Wine Cellars of Annapolis’ December 14 Light House fundraiser. Between 1 and 4pm that day, 10 percent of all Wine Cellar sales benefit the Light House. Store experts can advise you on which vintage pairs with gumdrop doors and hard-candy windows (

–Diana Beechener

Soup’s on

In spite of strong gusts of wind, the Admiral Heights Improvement Association served up bowls of crab soup at the first annual Ultimate Crab Soup Cook Off.

The association’s first attempt to fill the void left by the cancellation of Maryland’s Seafood Festival was itself cancelled by weather from tropical storm Hannah. On their rescheduled day November 22, the crowds and vendors braved wind and cold, but less rain.

Thirteen of 20 expected restaurants served up soups in three categories: cream of crab, vegetable crab and alternative crab soup. Winners were chosen by a panel of celebrity judges: Taste of the Bay’s Joe D’Urzo, Judge and Maryland First Lady Katie O’Malley, Feasty Jon, Wayne Allen and Carrie Neuman.

Professional palates declared Ports of Call’s a superior cream of crab. Mangos Bar and Grill in Tracy’s Landing bested in the vegetable category. Lure’s Bar and Grille added jalapeños to their alternative soup, taking that top prize:

–Diana Beechener
© COPYRIGHT 2008 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.