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Bar Opening 2001
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Solomons Island, MD – 20 April 2001 - Despite having lived in St. Mary’s County since
1983, I have never attended the infamous Tiki Bar opening.
Tonight was to be different.
Having just returned from several months in Rio de Janeiro, a
veteran of two Carnavals and more Samba that you can shake your bunda
at, I had to see how the Southern Maryland residents celebrated the
party of parties on the Island. To
be honest, I have been at the Tiki Bar on several occasions over the
past few years. I was
curious to see how they were going to accommodate the 9,000 or so
expected party-goers in such a confined area.
Driving over the bridge from St. Mary’s I could
see the cars amassing in a field close to the boat launch ramp. I took the cue and followed the deputy’s directions to my
parking space. One deputy
scanned my ID to ensure I was legal to drink and provided me a green
wristband. To my surprise,
they had several free shuttle buses lined up to accommodate the
satellite parking. The ride
was short and sweet, terminating in the parking lot by the Pier.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I
arrived. My only
expectations were driven by what various readers had posted in our
Community Forums. Basically, I was expecting the worst. From confrontational police officers to hostile island
residents and violent drunks urinating on the streets.
Granted I arrived relatively early, but my impressions were quite
the opposite of what I had come to expect.
Make no mistake. The police were there and they were there in force. I exchanged a few pleasantries with several deputies and troupers and they were quite friendly and polite. One kind trooper even agreed to pose for me on his beautiful Harley Davidson motorcycle. That’s what I call a fringe benefit! As I was leaving, I noticed that they were even bringing in the mounted police ala the Maryland Park Police.
The planners and authorities appeared to be well prepared for the event. I was quite impressed. In addition to adequate security, ample parking and shuttle bus services, there were ample porta-potties conveniently located throughout the island. I saw little reason to risk an arrest for public urination. Finally, there were emergency medical services on-hand, presumably for those who might overindulge themselves.
Aside from the amenities, the next thing that caught my attention were the beads. Beads can best be described as long necklaces of shiny beads, almost like small Christmas tree ornaments. They were everywhere. Women were wearing them, men were wearing them and quite a few entrepreneurs were selling them throughout the island. I've been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans and rumor has it that they use the beads for the same purpose on the Island. If true, we wouldn't be able to show you any photographs here since we are a family-oriented site.
By 6:30 p.m. the crowd at the Tiki Bar looked relatively small and tame. There were a few party-goers on their boats at the nearby docks. Across the street, a band called Round Midnight was playing under the auspices of the "Harbor Sounds Spring Music Fest 2001." There was also a booth selling sausages nearby. I imagined that they would become quite popular as the night wore on and the munchies prevailed.
According to the Calvert County Sheriff's Office in Prince Frederick, there were seven arrests on the island that night. Perhaps in anticipation of a large number of arrests, the authorities had established an on-site processing center. From there, those unfortunate enough to overindulge and cross the line of the law were sent directly to jail, thus bypassing the normal processing in Prince Frederick.
If you were at the Tiki Bar Opening 2001, please post in our Community Forum and give us your impressions. Did you have a good time? Was it what you expected or far under or over rated? Kudos or thumbs down to the authorities for their planning and handling of the event? How did you use your beads? Is the Tiki Bar really being sold? Talk to us and let all of Southern Maryland know!
If you've never been to Solomons Island, see our Photo Essay and see what you've been missing.
Tiki Bar Trivia:
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