ANNAPOLIS – The Maritime Republic of Eastport “rejoined” Annapolis Friday, ending its fictional secession from the city with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the bridge linking the two communities.
The revolt lasted the three weeks it took the Maryland State Highway Administration to reopen the Spa Creek Bridge after closing it for repairs.
Maritime Republic of Eastport “Prime Minister” Leon Wolfe, wearing a Napoleon-like admiral’s jacket with medals, marched up his side of the bridge at noon with a delegation of Eastport dignitaries.
They were met by Annapolis Mayor Dean Johnson, who was accompanied by some city officials and a flag bearer carrying the Annapolis flag.
The delegations shook hands with each other and then held “the world’s fastest ribbon-cutting ceremony” to reopen the bridge to traffic.
“They could not wait another full day to keep it closed” said Rose Muhlhausen, a state highway spokeswoman. She noted that anxious Eastport residents demanded that the reopening be pushed up from 5 p.m. to noon Friday, after they found out the bridge had been finished.
“I’m sure it was an inconvenience but they were very gracious,” Muhlhausen said. “They were really good sports and we really didn’t get any complaints.”
Eastport “seceded” on Jan. 25 to make light of the bridge closing, which led to irritating detours for commuters and concerns about falling business in Eastport shops and restaurants.
“Rather than complain about it we just smiled about it and had a good time,” said Tom Roskelly, a double-agent who serves as Annapolis’ public information officer and Minister of Disinformation for the Maritime Republic of Eastport.
When Eastport proclaimed its secession, it celebrated with a constitution, a national anthem, a new name and a march from the bridge to the new capitol and statehouse — Wolfe’s barbershop on Fourth Street.
Even Anne Arundel County legislators supported the revolution, issuing a resolution that recognized Eastport as “free” from Annapolis.
“We all looked at it as a kind of a positive community activity,” said Del. Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel. “It’s given everyone in Eastport a great identity.”
Eastport business owners had compiled a coupon book to attract customers while the bridge was being repaired. But they said Friday that business did not suffer as much as they had dreaded.
“It affected [business] some but not as much as I thought,” said Richard McClure, 48, general manager of Carrol’s Creek Cafe.
But he was still “very happy” the bridge reopened because his lunchtime business picked up.
“I’m having the best lunch that I’ve had in the three weeks the bridge had been closed,” McClure said.
A small crowd gathered on the bridge Friday for the ribbon- cutting ceremony, which Roskelly said took all of 63 seconds.
“It was a cute little ceremony,” said Ed Drago, 40, Spa Creek’s bridge tender.
In accordance with Eastport’s motto “Any Excuse for a Party,” a Reunification Ball was planned Friday evening at the Clipper Restaurant in Eastport just near the end of the bridge.
“We Eastporters are basically party animals,” Roskelly said.