Mermaids, Pirates, Privateers and You

You don’t forget a visit to Historic London Town and Gardens.
    The archeological dig site and people dressed like colonials are memories children hold onto.
    “I thought it was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen,” says 19-year-old Robert Lee, of Edgewater, of his visit a decade ago to “this place hidden all the way down Londontown Road.”
    Adults are just as susceptible. A wedding in the garden on a June evening, with roses blooming and the sun coloring the South River is held as a lifelong love story. That’s how Michele Allman of Bowie remembers her best friend’s London Town garden wedding.
    Bringing history into real life is what the 23-acre, interpretive-history park is all about.
    During the school year, that mission means leading grade-schoolers back in time to the thriving 17th and 18th century ferry town where George Washington dined and ordinary people like us made their living, cooked and washed their clothes. On June 8, it means staging Revolutionary Day, so you can enlist to aid the Continental Army. On August 8, it means inviting moderns to get dirty in archaeology digs.

Historic London Town is known for its gardens, its archeology and its colonial reenactments. But it is also a great place for parties.

    Just as often, it means parties, weddings and galas overlooking the South River and spilling into the gardens.
    Usually, parties at London Town are by invitation of the bride or graduate. But on June 7, we’re all invited.
    That evening, London Town supporters — they call themselves the Mermaid Society — taking their name from the park logo — throw a grand Privateer Party to bring in lots of loot for their cause.
    To get you there and give you a good time, the Mermaid Society is playing every card in its thick deck.
    The time is right. June’s days are the longest of the year. The air is perfumed, and London Town’s ornamental garden — one of four — will be abloom with roses and hydrangeas. Darkness will have just fallen after 14 hours and 51 minutes of light when the party ends at 9pm.
    The company is extraordinary. Mermaids, seafarers, privateers, the spare pirate — and you — are on the guest list.
    London Town thrived by the water, so nautical characters were regulars. Even mermaids, whose images on plates excavated from the cellar of the historic tavern suggest it went by the name Sign of the Mermaid.
    Among the mermaids certain to make the party are a school of 18, created for auction by local artists in the image of the Sign of the Mermaid.
    Annapolis plein air painter Lee Boynton will work in oil from two models — a woman and a fish — to bring his mermaid form to imaginative life. Boynton’s daughter and artist Margaret is considering mosaic tiles.
    Mother and daughter artists Nendy and Kendyl Lawson chose other media. Nendy, who works in fabric and “found stuff,” so liked dressing her first mermaid as a purple nymph that she created a second, “a hussy, who’s definitely looking.” Kendyl, on the other hand, sheathed hers in copper for the tail, gave her beer caps for a brassiere and set her on a wave of oyster shells.
    Those costumes will be hard to beat, but you’re invited to try. Among guests in business casual attire, pirates and mermaids will roam.
    The food will be extravagant. Thirteen caterers — not coincidentally, all are approved caterers for events at London Town — contribute “fabulous food,” says Jean Clare Shea, who’s in charge of the feasting.
    That means salmon and beef canapés from Whole Foods … terrines and pates from Ken’s Creative Kitchen … gazpacho shooters with shrimp from Creative Cuisine … prime rib sliders from Roundz … shrimp and mango skewers from The Palate Pleasers … crab salad in filo tartlettes from Saucy Salamander … mini beef Wellingtons from Julie St. Marie.
    Sweetening the menu are elegant desserts from The Main Ingredient, Whole Foods and Fiona’s Cakes, who’ll be serving cakes usually reserved for weddings.
    “We are the event that has the premier caterers with the premier food,” says Shea.
    Three liquor stores — Bay Ridge, Eastport and Edgewater — are donating cases of wine. “Whatever we ask for,” Shea says. And Heavy Seas Beer out of Clipper City Brewery in Baltimore is donating four cases of pirate-themed beer, including Mutiny.
    The auctions are appealing. To persuade you to spend more money, Mermaid Society members and London town supporters have donated goods from — and trips to — the far ends of the world.
    The cause is worthy. Your good time supports London Town’s mission of preserving colonial history through education programs, archaeology, horticulture and William Brown House tours.
    What more do you need to know, except how to get your ticket:
    You don’t have to loot and pillage to raise funds for Historic London Town. Instead, dress in swashbuckling style, ransom your way into the fifth annual Mermaid Society benefit and feast on food from the region’s top caterers, bid at live and silent auctions. Friday, June 7, 6-9pm at Historic London Town and Gardens, Edgewater. $110: 410-222-1919 x200;